My sweet, loving MIL tends towards wanting to push kids harder than I do. It comes from a good place, but I just don't place as high a value on certain things as she does. It seems like she'd like for my kids to be the fastest/best/earliest at everything, whereas I'm comfortable with them taking their time and going at their own pace. Here are two recent examples:
1) My DS is 4 and will turn 5 in late October. DH and I discussed whether to send him to kindergarten this year, and decided to do so (he starts on Tuesday!
). At his school, there are two K-only classes and one K/1 combo class. I mentioned this to my MIL and she said, "Oh, I hope he gets in the combo class!" I said, "I actually hope he doesn't. He's already very young for his grade." We both dropped it after that.
2) My DD is 16 months old, and says several words like mama, dada, ball, wawa, etc. She also does this adorable baby babbling, where she says whole "sentences" in a totally made-up language. She was doing it the other day while we were with my MIL and she said, "Did [4yo DS] ever do that made-up language thing?" I said, "Not that I remember" and she said, "Maybe we should mention it to [SIL, who is a speech/language pathologist]." I said, "She's just doing baby babbles. It's normal for her age." Again, we both dropped it after that.
She's very respectful, and she does drop the discussion immediately when she can tell that I disagree, so I'm glad about that, but this has happened a lot over the years. Should I just continue handling it the way I have been, with short, polite disagreement and redirection of the conversation? As my kids get older, I don't want them to get the vibe from her that they should be doing more than they are, or that something is "wrong" if they're "only" average in school.
Are they her first grandchildren? In the two scenarios you mentioned, it sounds like she just wants professional recognition that her grandbabies are brilliant.
Of course as mamas, we know that we will love them whether they are brilliant or not, so whether they are the best/fastest/earliest at anything is not really the point.
I would keep doing what you're doing, as long as she's not expressing disappointment, or comparing them to other children (such as their cousins or something). Since you say she is a very good grandma, I would bet it will sort itself out as they start to come into their own as individuals.
It's a good sign that she lets it drop when you respond the way you do. It may be that she can see the value in your views, and just needs time to get used to it. Coming from an achievement-oriented perspective, it can be difficult to let that go.
I think you need to go a bit easier on your MIL, OP. She just wants the best for her DGC. She backs off when she realises that you see things differently. You can't ask for much better than that.
I can't imagine when I'm a MIL (I have 3 boys, so seems likely!!) keeping my mouth shut about lots of things. If my DGC aren't breastfed, if they aren't cuddled to sleep most the time, if their parents have unrealistic expectations (and they will, because all new parents do) : I wll end up biting my tongue off!! I know that I will have to keep quiet, but it's going to be very hard.
The "Made up babble" is actually called jabber and jargon and is a very normal and important part of language development. She's practicing sounds and structure. Maybe it would help your MIL to know that it's something that most kids do and that it's actually very helpful in language development?