When Bean Dipping Won’t Help

by admin on January 3, 2011

My mother and father moved away from the large part of our family when I was little. Since it was so far a drive, I usually only saw my grandmother once a year at Christmas. A few other times my father would suggest going to see her but my mother was always reserved when the subject came up and so often my father would go alone. I always thought my mother was being a bit ornery when it came to my grandmother but now I see why she tried her hardest to avoid my her.

On a rare occasion, my mother, father, and I went down to see my grandmother. My grandmother had just remodeled her bathroom and, being one of those people who likes to fish for complements, kept asking my mother for her opinion. My mother kept smiling and telling her how lovely it was and other non-committal remarks but my grandmother kept asking because she wasn’t getting the opinion she wanted.

Finally, my grandmother told my mother to give it to her straight and tell her exactly what she thought about her bathroom. My mother mentioned that perhaps bright yellow walls wasn’t the best color for a bathroom that had a pink bathtub and dark colored sink. My grandmother laughed before saying, “Well, you know what? You better talk to my ass because that’s the only one who gives a shit.”

You could have heard a pin drop. I was so shocked that my grandmother had demanded my mother’s opinion and when she had voiced it my grandmother had insulted her that I couldn’t even think of a single thing to say to get the conversation going. Needless to say, now I understand why my mother doesn’t like to visit my grandmother. 1213-10

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Typo Tat January 3, 2011 at 6:43 am

Whoa, classy grandma.

I say, when in this kind of situation, lie through your teeth. You’re not doing anyone good by saying what you really think. There’s a saying in my language: Don’t be right, be smart!

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Hiding My Name January 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

I have a stepdaughter exactly like this and our tastes differ greatly. She took great pleasure in critisizing anything I purchased from clothing to furniture and everything in between, no words spared. She once showed me something she had bought and, for once, I decided to say exactly the same thing she had said to me about *my* last purchase, word for word … and she became extremely angry.

There are those that cannot live without constant praise and become indignant after demanding the *truth* from you. I know several such folks.

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boxy January 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

What a horrible thing to say to someone. Please, oh please, tell us your dad stepped in and stood up for your mom.

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Xtina January 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

Well–I presume that there is a backstory as to how come Grandma would pick on her daughter-in-law so badly and how they came to have a relationship of this sort. More details, please! :-)

At any rate and no matter what–Grandmother has a horrible potty mouth and is very rude! Maybe Grandmother has a problem with the need for her choices to be accepted–as other posters have said, there are people in this world who demand “the truth” but aren’t able to handle it. My initial thought is “then why ask for an opinion”, but some people don’t march to the tune of reason.

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aerrigad January 3, 2011 at 10:05 am

@ Xtina – I wouldn’t necessarily assume that there’s a backstory about WHY she acts so towards her daughter-in-law. I have an elder female relative that I have personally witnessed set up another of my relatives up for just that sort of fall for no better reason than she seems to thrive on the drama.

I have to respect your mom for not putting herself in a position to have that happen to her any more than absolutely necessary, and your dad for not forcing her to come along. It would have been nice to see him stand up for her as well, but believe me when I tell you that I’ve seen first-hand how hard it can be to stand up to a parent, even when you’re old enough to do so. Sometimes avoidance is just the easier, less painful option for all involved.

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Elizabeth January 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

I agree with the first comment, lie that you love it.

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Jillybean January 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

Sounds to me like granny heard what she thought was a funny punch line from someone and couldn’t wait to try it herself so baited the one person she could rely on til she finally got the opportunity.

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bookworm January 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

I think there’s more to this story that we’re not hearing, probably because it started before you were born. Perhaps your mother should have submitted it had she felt this story worthy of being posted on the internet for all the see.

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Dorothy January 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

It was not your place to say anything. Standing there with a shocked stare on your face was the appropriate response for you to make. Let your parents handle it. I wonder if Grandma was beginning to slip mentally. (I don’t know the names for these illnesses, and I don’t want to use the wrong one.) IMO the appropriate response would be, “Well, you asked me — several times!” and a change of subject. And if Grandma continues saying inappropriate things, an early departure. Then she can tell everyone how seldom her son and his family visit and how short the visit is — all the fault of that terrible woman he married. Let the old bat have her fun and keep out of her way. Sad, but the only answer.

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Enna January 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

That is shocking. My firend redocarated her living room and asked what her sister said – sister didn’t like it but it was more of a jokey-banter type agruement were both siblins were expressing their honest opinion not a rude confronatation like this.

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karma January 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

Not only is grandma rude, but she is crude as well. I wouldn’t talk like that to anyone.

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Allie January 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Sounds like she knew what she wanted to say in advance, and was just trying to set up the perfect opportunity to say it. Just couldn’t wait to use that rude phrase. Perhaps she thought it was funny, when it was just offensive.

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Ashley January 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Some people just thrive on drama, that is really all their is too it. It’s unfortunate when it is family members because it puts people in stupid positions like this. I’m curious though, did OP’s father step in and say ANYTHING in his wife’s defense?

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D January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

My first thought when reading this was to shrug and say, “Well, you asked.”

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DGS January 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

WHAT?…How rude! What I can’t decide is if this Grandmother is just a horrible rude little old biddy, or if she is dementing, which does not justify but might explain the outrageous behavior. At any rate, OP, I’m so sorry that your Mom had to go through that, and I hope that your Father stood up to his Mother and asked for an apology for her insulting his wife.

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Orwellian January 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

My mother used to take Benadryl before going to see my grandmother. Mom would get drowsy and take a nap and miss most of the visit. I think that’s what you’re supposed to do when confronted by a bear, but it definitely works for visits to a mother-in-law.

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Kat January 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Dorothy – if grandma IS beginning to “slip mentally,” avoiding her probably isn’t the appropriate response. Did I misinterpret your comment?

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Bint January 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I’m with Jillybean – this is Grandma trying to set the mother up for her ‘hilarious’ punchline.

Tackerama.

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Nannerdoman January 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I agree that Grandma was setting her DIL up. Why else keep nagging and nagging for her “real” opintion when DIL had already said the conventional, “Oh, it’s lovely” several times?

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Alexis January 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

It sounds as if she heard this line somewhere and couldn’t wait to use it. It also sounds as if she behaved this way a lot if mom just kept avoiding her. That being said, the thought balloon over my head would have read: Oh, I thought I WAS! (I would not have said this aloud, but I would have really, really wanted to!)

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HeatherT January 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I’m thinking if the OP was a young child at the time, she may not know the backstory. Is it really necessary to know that? I can’t imagine what circumstance that knowing some sort of backstory would make this scenario ok. Maybe she was just a mean human being.

Heather

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Random January 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I doubt she is slipping mentally. Someone who is developing problems like that might insult others, but I do not think they would deliberately set someone up like that.

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Anonymous January 4, 2011 at 1:41 am

Wait, back up…..did the grandmother really decorate her bathroom in hideous, clashing colours, JUST so she could bait the mother into saying she didn’t like it, so she could trot out that disgusting line about talking to her rear end? I’m calling shenanigans here–it sounds EXACTLY like the kind of dirty joke I’d expect to hear in the schoolyard in grade six.

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Enna January 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

@ Anonymous I don’t think the Grandma decorated her bathroom in away to cause an agruement it was the way she was badgering her DIL for compliments etc and then used the excuse to swear at her. Now some members of my family don’t get along but they don’t swear at each other.

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Bint January 4, 2011 at 7:57 am

“Wait, back up…..did the grandmother really decorate her bathroom in hideous, clashing colours, JUST so she could bait the mother into saying she didn’t like it, so she could trot out that disgusting line about talking to her rear end?”

No, I meant grandma decorated it the way she wanted but guessed her DIL wouldn’t like it and thought she’d found her opportunity.

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Anonymous January 4, 2011 at 9:18 am

So, Grandma really DOES have terrible taste them–I mean, bright yellow walls, pink sink, and dark coloured bathtub? The whole thing sounds like an acid trip of Doodlebops’ proportions. But be that as it may, it’s not rude to have bad taste. Nevertheless, what a horrible thing to say. I’d give her a pass if she appeared to be slipping mentally (then again, she might be, given her choice of bathroom decor), but since that statement was pre-meditated, I say toss Grandma into E-Hell.

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LurkerWisp January 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing someone who, as everyone keeps putting it is “slipping mentally.” That sounds like something a nasty excuse for a human being with a talent for unkindness would say. My grandma is “slipping mentally.” When she says terrible things about/to people it’s never so witty and never has such a set up.

It must get lonely being so mean. :(

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SJ January 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I think that Grandma was just dying to get anything resembling a criticism just so she could use that remark.

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RP January 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

@Typo Tat – Normally I’d agree with that advice except the OP’s mom had already tried that. I think the grandmother would have harassed the mom the entire visit if she didn’t get the answer she wanted. Mom tried bean dipping and it didn’t work.

I don’t know if there’s a polite way out of that situation. If it were me I’d have asked her why she demanded my opinion if she didn’t actually care about it (and likely started an argument).

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Sharon January 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I would say that the decor of the bathroom fits the personality of grandma perfectly.

Like LurkerWisp said, “It must be lonely being so mean.”

@bookworm, I can’t understand why you don’t think that people should post other people’s antics on this site… I thought that is what the site was all about. And, OP did not post any names. I doubt that the mother would post anything about her own personal actions, she probably thinks that she is cute and funny… what she is… is mean.

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NINA HEFFERNAN January 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

This sounds like my MIL. She was the nastiest, most vicious excuse for a human being I’ve ever met. She could (and would) cut you to pieces verbally and really enjoy doing it. She wasn’t crude, though. Unfortunately, she enjoyed doing it publicly. I suffered with that woman for 40 years. I’m sure the devil is hiding from her now, praying for deliverance.

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David S January 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I strongly disagree with the suggestion to lie about it. If you’ve nothing NICE to say, simply say nothing at all. It takes two to tango, after all. Yes, granny was definitely egging DIL on, but all the bullying and nagging in the world cannot FORCE you to react.

In this situation, the tactful thing to have done would have been to be proactive. If DIL’s MIL behaved this way frequently in the past, the right thing to have done would be to give a non-committal answer like she did and then to change the subject, suggest some kind of activity in which the family could participate, and get the focus off of the poorly-painted bathroom.

If, in the event that no such activity was available, then DIL did the appropriate thing by finally caving in to repeated requests for her opinion and giving an honest assessment of the bathroom.

MIL’s response was obviously sans-tact, but to lie about your opinion of the room is not only just as tactless, it is also an enabling behavior. How so? It is a tacit admission that MIL is dominant over you because she has forced you to walk on eggshells.

I have a very similar situation with my own MIL. She would never say something as blunt as this, but she has, on several occasions, said to my parents that I am, “Difficult to love”, has fabricated stories about tacky things I’ve said or done, and even suggested that my own mother called my wife a woman of ill-repute (she used a word starting with w and rhyming with snore).

Now at first, because my wife is actually quite afraid of crossing her mother, I treated my MIL with the behavior many are suggesting here: I would lie to try to cover up what I thought, I would intentionally keep my opinions to myself, and would in many ways be beholden to her. Then I realize I am a 6’4″ man with a 5’2″ MIL ruling my life. This is preposterous. MIL’s do not get to continue to have a say in how their children’s lives are run once those children are grown, out of the house, living on their own income, and are married.

As such, I am forthright with her now. And you know what? She acts like a human being now. Most bullies will not continue to bully you if you stop being a victim. There are occasionally bullies who will try to physically intimidate you, and in that case you have to decide if it’s worth escalating to the level of aggressive behavior.

Such is not the case with this MIL or with my own MIL. So please, don’t listen to the suggestions to lie about your opinions as this will set up a course of events that will lead to a lot of unhappiness for you personally, and as such, for the other people in your life. Think about it, if you are unhappy with your MIL, how often are you going to accompany your spouse to see her? And isn’t your spouse probably less likely to go visit? How will that make your spouse feel? Pretty poorly I should imagine. What about MIL? Also not the best I’d venture to guess. And if your spouse isn’t happy, you aren’t happy, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman! Not if you really love your spouse, any way.

Telling the truth is always more appropriate than lying. When you accept that it is acceptable to use lies and deceit to solve your problems, you are simply substituting one problem for another; in other words, you must then remember which lies you’ve told to whom and you must be certain never to tell the opposite opinion to someone else as word may get back to the person to whom you first told the lie. This would cause either some very catty behavior from the lied to party, OR an interdimensional tear in the space-time continuum, whichever would generate a smaller net release of Gibb’s free energy.

So tell the truth!

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