Author Topic: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself  (Read 9309 times)

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Lady Snowdon

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2012, 09:29:46 PM »
Every family does it different and does things differently. 

For instance the LW states that 'everybody knows the cook doesn't clear'".  I don't know who 'everybody' is, but they don't live at my house.

She needs to ask her to help clean up if it is so important to her to have 15 people tromping through the kitchen.

She should be focusing on how happy her son is with the future DIL, as it looks like she is going to be his wife.

Hahahahahahahaha! I actually laughed out loud to the bolded (agree w/everything else!)

I just got done spending all day doing intensive cleaning while everybody is gone. I almost don't want anyone to come home for a day or so, so I can enjoy it! (j/k)

I laughed at that line too!  "Everybody" certainly doesn't live at my house, my grandparent's house, or my MIL's house either!  It's all we can do to get my grandmother and MIL to sit down and eat, let alone let other people clean up the table. 

I was shocked that the LW felt that not helping to clear the table was such a terrible thing that it warranted writing in to an advice columnist.  She says right in her letter that her son normally does the cooking and cleaning, so I don't think there's anything wrong with the fiance sitting at the table still, if she normally does not have to help cook or clean up.  If she really feels that this is the worst thing in the world, then it sounds like she's quite capable of opening her mouth and saying "Hey Janice, would you mind clearing some of the plates, since Joey's got the water running to rinse them off?"

Hillia

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2012, 09:44:46 PM »
I agree that the LW's tone was unnecessarily harsh, and she sounds like she's looking for a reason to be offended.  Speaking for myself, though, if every single other person at the table got up and carried their plates into the kitchen, I would do so also, watching the others to see what to do (rinse and leave in the sink?  rinse and place in the dishwasher?).  At the very least I would have asked, 'Can I help with anything?'.

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MizA

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2012, 10:21:27 PM »
I have this image of a dozen people rising in tendem, zombie-like, shuffling their plates to the kitchen, whilst the matriarch watches with a gimlet eye and the poor girlfriend sits, bewildered.

Seriously, though.  Everyone's house runs their home and kitchen differently. And even within households, different occasions call for different clean-up styles.  If I'm having a dinner party, darned skippy my guests are to remain seated while I effortlessly whisk away the dirty dishes, as if by magic.  If a friend has dropped by and we're having a more casual thing of it, then they'll be invited to help with dishes. 
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Mithril

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2012, 12:02:35 PM »
I would actually feel bad leaving the matriarch at the table alone. It seems rude and dismissive to abandon her like that. What does she do? Just sit there alone at the table watching?

Yvaine

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2012, 12:05:32 PM »
I would actually feel bad leaving the matriarch at the table alone. It seems rude and dismissive to abandon her like that. What does she do? Just sit there alone at the table watching?

That's a very good point. I wonder if she stayed to try to make conversation with the Pill-in-law!

TootsNYC

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2012, 05:26:08 PM »
I can also see, quite easily, a scenario in which the girlfriend thinks it's sort of stupid that everyone from the table gets up and takes their plate, etc., into the kitchen. And that she thinks she's sort of a guest, even if she is family, and that she's mildly offended at being expected to do chores in someone else's home.

And that she expresses that (aggression) by not doing things that are expected of her (passively).

And I can see that if she does this at EVERY relative's house, at EVERY holiday, that more than one person might make little comments in the kitchen. And talk about it when she's not there. (You *know* that the person who isn't there is the one the family talks about.)

WillyNilly

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2012, 05:35:19 PM »
I can also see that the LW is exaggerating and "everyone" doesn't really get up with one plate each and each scrape their plate and each put one plate at a time in the sink/dishwasher.  I bet its more like of 15 people 3-5 of them (maybe the younger generation?) get up and 1 or 2 take a pile of plates, and another takes serving dishes and another takes the bread basket and the butter dish and another starts clearing the beverage bottles, etc, while a handful of folks maybe wander away (restroom, leg stretch, check the game, outside for a smoke, etc).

Allyson

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #37 on: November 08, 2012, 11:09:25 PM »
Yes, the scenario described doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. 14 people all getting up at once? It sounds like they're talking about just putting dishes in the kitchen, not everyone cleaning it up, which makes a bit more sense as to how it works, but even less as to why this bothers the future MIL so much.

I could picture a scenario where everyone does put their plate in the kitchen, but at different times, so people wander in and out with their plates. In which case, it's a little annoying that the girlfriend has never picked up on this habit, but it seems just as likely she hasn't figured it out yet than that she's deliberately being difficult about this. It's her boyfriend family--presumably she wants to make a good impression and have them like her. If that weren't the case, there would probably be more things for MIL to complain about than just this one thing.

blarg314

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #38 on: November 09, 2012, 02:33:32 AM »

In my experience, guest rules are that guests don't help clean up - that is the job of the hosts to do in the manner they please.  Family rules, though, are more relaxed, and the offer to help should at least be made. Close family rules involve just pitching in, in the way that you're used to.

So it depends on whether the future DIL feels like one of the family, or like a guest. Given the general attitude of the letter writer, I wouldn't be surprised if FDIL doesn't really feel like part of the family yet.  Of course, she may be lazy, but the LW could at least drop a word to her son to explain her interpretation of the family rules to his fiance.

And add me to the people who weren't aware of the "of course the cook doesn't clean" rule.

For my brother and SIL's situation, my mom did get peeved at his lack of help, legitimately I think.  My mom would offer to help clean up or help cook when at their place, and her help would always be accepted, but when they were over at her place, they would relax after dinner while she cleaned up.  It was similar when they went out to dinner - they would expect the parents (on either side) to pick up the tab, and wouldn't offer to do so themselves. It wasn't malicious on their part, but it was a part of a pattern where they expect the parents to treat them, but hadn't clued in to the fact that as adults with their own household, earning a good income (greater than the parents, for that matter), offering to help/pay would be appropriate.

SPuck

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2012, 07:51:14 AM »
For my brother and SIL's situation, my mom did get peeved at his lack of help, legitimately I think.  My mom would offer to help clean up or help cook when at their place, and her help would always be accepted, but when they were over at her place, they would relax after dinner while she cleaned up.  It was similar when they went out to dinner - they would expect the parents (on either side) to pick up the tab, and wouldn't offer to do so themselves. It wasn't malicious on their part, but it was a part of a pattern where they expect the parents to treat them, but hadn't clued in to the fact that as adults with their own household, earning a good income (greater than the parents, for that matter), offering to help/pay would be appropriate.

Is that situation still continuing or did it change?

White Lotus

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #40 on: November 09, 2012, 07:26:42 PM »
If there isn't a staff, or if it isn't clear that one or two specific people are acting as staff (designated helpers, if you prefer), I think courtesy requires, and suggests in the latter instance, "Host/ess, what can I do to help?"  However, I don't think this is fatal the first time out.  Next time, the host/ess (or the fiancÚ) could say, "let's see.  Fred is clearing, and Frieda is packing leftovers.  Newbie (and son), would you please start the coffee and tea?"  Smile and move on.  Rude is not asking how you can help when everyone else is doing helpful things.  But there are mitigating circumstances, such as no other guest offering to help, one's specific host, in this case, boyfriend, is not helping, the apparent or actual appearance of "designated helpers" and the like.  Cut her a pass and lighten up.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 07:34:00 PM by White Lotus »

LilacRosey

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #41 on: November 10, 2012, 11:17:06 PM »
I can't imagine not offering to help clean up at my future familie's home I don't understand why she wouldn't. Even if she thinks shes a guest I usually at least offer when I know I'll be turned down. So I guess I just I don't see the "red flags" with the future mom because it makes sense to me that she would be annoyed.,LilacRosey

Venus193

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #42 on: November 11, 2012, 06:43:30 AM »
It's all about how different families do things differently.

My mother didn't entertain often but she would never have expected anyone to help her do so (except me).  My uncle and aunt would get to sit in the living room with their coffee and not have to touch the dishes.  Thus I do the same with my guests, although I wash the dishes right away to keep the roaches at bay.  My kitchen also is small so it would be awkward to have more than two people in it.

Brunhilde did things the same way, but Siegfried's family insisted that everyone had to help.  He didn't adjust to her way and now Waltraude and I have to help.  I usually wash because I do it faster.

I have difficulty with the idea of 14 people in one kitchen, though, and still think this mother is looking for fault since she harps on this more than it's justified.

lynxcan

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2012, 12:43:23 AM »
In my family the gathering is almost always at my mother's home since forever ago.  My sister, sister-in-law, brother and I prepare the meal, set the table and serve the food.  Sister, sister-in-law and I clear the table, do the dishes and clean up afterwards, brother sits with the others, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other guests.  We work very well as a team, other guests always comment on how seamlessly we work together as they watch from the dining room. 

One cousin in particular, and her husband, used to visit from out of the country at various times of the year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, the usual family gathering times and they would always comment on our "dance in the kitchen" and what a good team we were. 

One year I drove 1200 km to go visit the above cousin and her husband at their home and after dinner, I got up and began helping my cousin by clearing the table and putting away food, because that's the way I was raised, family helps.  Her husband was extremely annoyed with me, told me that his mother would never allow non-family members in her kitchen and that it was "common".  I was dumbstruck and finished putting away the dish I was holding and went and sat down.   (I also left the next day, I was so embarassed.)

I had no idea that I was so out of line in their home, but since then, I ask if I can help and don't just assume that it's welcome. 
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LeveeWoman

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Re: Today's ask amy or cleaning up after yourself
« Reply #44 on: November 12, 2012, 06:31:24 AM »
In my family the gathering is almost always at my mother's home since forever ago.  My sister, sister-in-law, brother and I prepare the meal, set the table and serve the food.  Sister, sister-in-law and I clear the table, do the dishes and clean up afterwards, brother sits with the others, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other guests.  We work very well as a team, other guests always comment on how seamlessly we work together as they watch from the dining room. 

One cousin in particular, and her husband, used to visit from out of the country at various times of the year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, the usual family gathering times and they would always comment on our "dance in the kitchen" and what a good team we were. 

One year I drove 1200 km to go visit the above cousin and her husband at their home and after dinner, I got up and began helping my cousin by clearing the table and putting away food, because that's the way I was raised, family helps.  Her husband was extremely annoyed with me, told me that his mother would never allow non-family members in her kitchen and that it was "common".  I was dumbstruck and finished putting away the dish I was holding and went and sat down.   (I also left the next day, I was so embarassed.)

I had no idea that I was so out of line in their home, but since then, I ask if I can help and don't just assume that it's welcome.

And scolding a guest is a sign of a refined person?