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What's a child's birthday party without family drama?

On Sunday evening we went to the Annoy Inlaws for Niece’s fifth birthday party. Well, technically it was the “after party” as she had a party with her friends all afternoon. Anyhow, when she opened the present from her grandmother, I cringed a bit.

My MiL had told me she was having trouble figuring out what to get for Niece. She has a lot of toys, so she didn’t want to get that, but whenever my MiL gives niece clothes, they never seem to get worn.

So at some point Sunday, my MiL decided to get her a betta fish. From the surprised looks on the Annoying Inlaws’s faces , it was clear my MiL hadn’t asked them if it was ok. Some parents would be fine with such a surprise. But the Annoying Inlaws aren’t good with rolling with things. I don’t know what my MiL was thinking. But no one seemed to be noticibly upset.


So the party ended and everyone went home. Monday evening, my MiL came home from work to discover the fish, the tank and everything else sitting on her kitchen table. With it was a note written by Niece that says something to the effect of “Please love him, and I will come visit him whenever I can.”

Monday was technically Niece’s birthday, so my MiL called to wish her a happy birthday. In the course of the conversation Niece tearfully told my MiL “I can’t have a pet because it might die like Poppy.” (Poppy is her grandfather who died over 10 years ago.) Then she tried to ask if she could visit the fish tomorrow, but ASiL cut her off saying they have plans, and ended the conversation.

Then ABiL called my MiL and yelled at her for buying the fish without asking saying among other things that they don’t have the means to take care of a pet. I totally get that they might not have wanted a fish, but a financial argument? Fish food isn’t that expensive.

Like I said, I agree my MiL should have run the fish idea past them before getting one. But surely there was a better way to handle it than passive aggressively dropping everything off at grandma’s when she wasn’t home. Also, it seems a bit cruel to prolong the “you can’t keep the fish” moment by making a five year old write a note about it, on her birthday, no less.

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