I've thought about this for two days, wondered whether or not I should write you, and ultimately decided that regardless of whether or not it will change anything (and I don't anticipate it will), I have to attend to the matter for the sake of my family, so here I am.
[FIL], first and foremost, you disappointed my son. You hurt his feelings and you let him down. That will not ever happen again on my watch. You do it to your son regularly and I wish he wouldn't allow it, but he is an adult and he has to make those decisions for himself. [Zen Son] is under my care. Much the same as with [mother-in-law, your ex-wife], I will not allow you to do to my son what you've done to your own. You won't be given that opportunity and I won't ever purposely put him in the position to feel that again.
We did a little math on the way home from pizza. You spent two hours with your son and grandson when [Zen Son] was just about 6 months old. He is now almost three years old. In the last 2 1/2 years, you've not asked to speak on the phone with [Zen Son], you've talked to your son on the phone a handful of times (your typical 2-3 times a year), you've not asked for pictures, you've not concerned yourself with either of them at all. You've been in no way a father or grandfather. (That can actually go for the last 15 years with regard to [Zen Husband] and precious little for the 17 years prior to that.) During this visit, you saw fit to take a couple hours out of your potential time with your only child and only grandchild to sight see. Now, you very well could have done that on the way back up, taking, instead, the time out of your visit with [your lady-friend's] brother (an entire week-long visit as opposed to the 24 hour visit with your family), but you didn't. You arrived at 5:40 p.m. on Saturday. We left at 6:30 p.m. and drove separately. We spent an hour together at the restaurant. You didn't bother to say goodbye to your grandson. He was disappointed. That's less than two hours together that day. Add that to the two hours the only other time you've seen your grandson and you're up to four hours (I'll round up, for the sake of argument) in nearly three years of his life. The next day, you arrived at 11 a.m. We left about 1 1/2 hours later and, again, drove separately even though you were invited to spend the hour drive there and the hour drive back with your family. You spent approximately 15 minutes putting together a puzzle with [Zen Son] and then left, never to be seen again. What was the point of us all going there together exactly? You disappointed my son. You disappointed my husband. You yanked them around, giving little glimpses of involvement as a patriarch and then snatching it away as I have come to fully expect, but your son has yet to understand and your grandson is too young to comprehend. All they know is you disappointed them. You hurt them. We then spent another hour at the pizza joint. Now, as we arrived as a group, I (wrongly) assumed we would at least consult one another to see if we wanted to share a pizza together. Obviously, that was never a consideration for you. Just like at the museum, you did your thing and we were left wondering why we were there together if only to share the same air. Let's add that time up, shall we? Two hours at the museum (but that doesn't count, since you weren't there), an hour an a half beforehand, and an hour at dinner. All told, in the entire visit, you spent 4 1/2 hours with your son and grandson. And that was clearly plenty, as you could not wait to get back to the hotel, forgoing, even, a final goodbye to your grandson. I will never again allow you to bring out that intensely disappointed voice in him when he asks over and over, "Why, Mama? Why did they go? Where are they? Why did they leave?" Can you explain to me how I'm supposed to explain utter selfishness to a two year old? I mean, toddlers are fairly selfish themselves, but even he couldn't understand such an egregious level. He was near tears and, as a result, [Zen Husband] was in tears.
Let's do a little comparison. I won't ask you how much time you spend with [lady-friend's] son, because he lives nearby and that's not a fair comparison. I won't ask you how often her daughter comes to visit you in Michigan, because, in fairness, we don't come to visit you (for very good reason, you must understand, given what is outlined above), so again, not a fair comparison. I have to ask, though, how often do you visit her daughter in Georgia? And how often to you visit her brother in Vegas? And when you visit, how much time do you spend with each? Why is that, [
I'm well aware that you'll avoid this email. I'm well aware you'll not write back or address the issue head-on, so I won't even expect it. However, I will say that if you have any even fleeting thought of confronting the pain you've caused, don't bother writing me. You didn't hurt me (not directly, anyway, only by way of my family). Address it with your son or don't be surprised when the time comes that you find yourself without a son. You've already managed to find yourself without a grandson and that is by your own hand. Someday, [FIL], [Zen Husband] will grow out of the childish hopes he has for you. When that day comes, you'll lose him completely, not that you seem to care much.
Consider it all, [FIL]. Take it in. Search your soul. And ask yourself: If [Zen Husband] were the kind of dad and grandpa that I am, what would I think?