So background: I (32f) have a brother, 'Dave' (35m), who's married to 'Sarah' (29f). They don't have children yet. I have a son who just turned four and a three-month-old daughter with my husband (39m). My husband and I live in Belgium most of the time, but we travel back to visit my family about once a month (in England).
At home, we speak both English and French to our children (my husband is Belgian), and right now, my son is in this very sweet phase where he'll sometimes mix up the two languages and say a couple of words in English in a French sentence or vice-versa.
This has never posed a problem to us, and even the staff at his nursery have reassured us that it's very common and they tend to grow out of it once they start at school. My sister-in-law has decided that this is a problem, so when we're visiting my parents and she notices my son doing this, she'll correct him, but she does so really rudely, whereas my husband and I will just gently correct him.
Anyway, we're visiting at the moment and she's now decided that instead of correcting him, she's just going to start ignoring him when he does this. I sort of noticed her doing it when we arrived, and I thought it was odd, but assumed maybe she was just stressed (her job is quite intense), but it only really became an issue yesterday.
My husband was talking to my dad outside and I was feeding my daughter in the other room, and I'd left Louis with Sarah and Dave. When I came back downstairs, Louis was crying, and I managed to understand that he'd tried to ask Sarah for a drink (he has a special cup he uses that he was holding, so it was obvious what he meant) but that she'd just ignored him.
I asked her why and she explained that she wasn't going to reply to him unless he said the sentence correctly and that I shouldn't be 'ignoring my son's obvious speech issues.' For context, it's not that she didn't know what he wanted. She told me that she understood exactly what he was asking for, but that she was deliberately refusing because he hadn't asked correctly.
This really pissed me off, but luckily my husband came inside at that moment and pulled me away so we could calm down and settle Louis. That night at the dinner table, Sarah asked me to pass her something, but she said it in 'bad' English (she IS English, I just mean that she asked for it in slang. Think, 'Pass us the peas, will you'.
I had a bit of an epiphany and I just decided to totally ignore her. She asked again, and I did the same thing. My brother asked why I was ignoring his wife and I said that I'm not able to reply if she can't speak English correctly and that it's wrong of him to ignore her obvious issues with grammar.
Everyone's pretty pissed off with me and I admit it was incredibly childish, but she was needlessly being a dickhead to my baby. Should I just apologise?
NTA. You completely passive-aggressively defended your kid against a childish adult. Was it petty? Yes. Was it deserved? Hell yes.
NTA. I think it was a good way of making your point, actually. Your son is four, for Chrissake (I mean, 'for Christ's sake'). Of course he's going to make a few grammatical and pronunciation errors. Gentle correction is the way to go, not ignoring the kid unless and until he gets the sentence right. How does he even know what's right unless the adults in his life tell him?
NTA. I wouldn't apologize, given the fact that she refused to help a child & made him cry based on the same logic you're using (which is actually her logic). If she can't even meet her own standards, she has no business imposing them on a toddler.
NTA. Tell your sister in law that until she shows you her qualifications in speech therapy, she should keep her opinions to herself on what is normal and what isn't, especially when she doesn't speak in perfect grammar in her own native language.
That ignoring a 4 year old, refusing to get him a drink, resulting in him crying has now resulted in no unsupervised time with your child because that is borderline abusive.