Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dealing with good people.

Dealing with good people can be frustrating. At least that is what my experience tells me. You yell at the son and daughter and they yell back at you. Scores settled and peace prevails. But gently rebuke them or better still don’t say anything at all. Pick up the wet towel and put it to wash. Smile at them and say “Anything else to be washed son”? It simply unnerves them and there won’t be a wet towel to pick up next time.

Priya was told that she was lucky to have Mrs. Kapoor for mother in law. Mrs. Kapoor was mild mannered and soft spoken. She would never interfere in her life. And she didn’t. But having no complaint against her mother in law was Priya’s only complaint. It was very difficult to get past her mother in law. There was a talk of hiring a cook when Priya’s husband Nitesh was hospitalized. Her mother in law pitched in.

“Why hire a cook my child. I have nothing to do. I’ll take care of the kitchen. You can attend to Nitesh.”

Priya would return from hospital at 8 in the evening. The evening meal would not be ready.

Her mom in law would smile sweetly and say –

“I was just about to start. However, I could not decide whether to prepare bitter gourd or pumpkin. Which do the children prefer? And would it be okay to prepare rotis before hand? I thought the children would want to have fresh rotis.”

“Anything would do mummy”. Priya would reply. “I have some packaged, pre-cooked vegetables. If you’ve kneaded the flour I’ll prepare rotis immediately. The children should be hungry and will be asking for food anytime now”.

“Oh my God, I just forgot. Why don’t you freshen up? I’ll knead the flour. By the way how many cups of wheat flour do we take?”

“Never mind mummy. I’ll toast some bread for them. I’ll check for left over food in the fridge. Or else I’ll make some upma for the two of us.”

And as an aside she would add ‘Please get right out of my kitchen. I may just eat you up for dinner’.

It was a frustrating situation. To top it the MIL would appear so very considerate when neighbors and relatives dropped in.

Poor child, she has to do the running around since I cannot manage outside work. So I’ve asked her not to worry about home and children. After all what am I here for”?

Bhavana too had been blessed with a good mother in law. She was however not as indecisive as Priya’s mom in law. She was smart and very much in control. Bhavana wanted to take up a job. The children had grown up and she had some spare time. She wanted to take up a part time job.

She over heard her mother in law telling her husband-

Bhavana wants to take up a job. And why not? She is qualified and capable. I’ve offered to manage the house. My arthritis causes problem but I’ll manage somehow. I’ll finish work and give myself a massage once I am done. Appa can fetch the children from the bus stop. It will be very hot when they come back. He’ll have to carry an umbrella. It will be a little difficult for him to manage the children with an umbrella in one hand. He’ll manage somehow. Hire a servant to fetch them? Servants are so unreliable. You pay them a huge amount and end up doing all the work yourself. Never mind son, don’t worry. We’ll manage somehow”.

Bhavana was at wit’s end not knowing how she was supposed to deal with such a sacrificing mother in law. It would have been easier to deal with one who refused to help out.

Pranati’s mother in law was in hospital. She would visit her every evening with a flask of coffee and some snacks. For the rest of the day she had hired a private attendant and was paying her an amount that was quite beyond her means. In order to save money she would take a bus to the hospital and would invariably be late. She would wait for the milkman at a neighbor’s place since he came there earlier, prepare coffee at their place, leave her two year old daughter with them and rush to board the bus. On one occasion she saw her cousin and his wife going towards the hospital in a two wheeler while she was herself in the bus. Had she spotted them before boarding the bus she’d have asked them to take her mother in law’s coffee along. When she reached the hospital ward her mother in law was very cross with her for being late. It so happened that her cousin’s wife had innocently remarked that had she known that Pranati would be late she would have brought the ailing woman some coffee herself. Well meant words but they triggered off unnecessary resentment between the mother in law/daughter in law duo. Under the circumstances it would have been better to keep one’s opinion guarded. Getting coffee on an odd day was not the same as doing it on a daily basis. And there could be umpteen reasons for the delay.

In my opinion good will alone is not sufficient. It has to be peppered with smart thinking. As the saying goes ‘an intelligent enemy is easier to deal with than a foolish friend’. Think about it.


Ugich Konitari said...

You are so right. Its not enough to just be good. But then I have known some innocent good types, and the cunning good types. The latter tear apart families, and are to be avoided at all costs. And that is difficult when they claim priviledges of age.

hillgrandmom said...

I agree with UK, it is the cunning good types (who really aren't good types at all!) who are to be avoided at all costs.

Anonymous said...

My husband sometimes remarks that someone is a very innocent person. I think no one is innocent in this world, other than people who are born with some development issues. May be, I am being too rude with understanding the world.

passerby55 said...

Hi there,

Thanks for your words.
I am back, though dont find the flow to write as yet.

This post has left me a bit confused.Dealing with whatever kind people is an art itself.

Preeta, Good acts eg. done out of kindness, how does one pepper that? Dont they flow with no ulterior motives, for no reasons at all! They are directed to any living or non, irrespective of anything..

Perhaps, it is not easy to tackle such people who do such acts. The (materialistic) the (well informed) world; finds them foolish!

btw the egs given in the post are around MIL And DIL! Now, that is a different world again, who make a world of their own, U know lot of "buts and ifs " I fail to understand that from what i hear and see. Again,I have yet to become a MIL!

This post is reflective!


Hip Grandma said...

suranga:The cunning good types are dangerous. They are difficult to identify.And as hillg'mom says they are not good at all. But even the innocent and impractical good types are not easy to handle. You cannot scream at them without feeling lousy at your own behavior and yet they create impossible situations.

hillg'mom: I did not mean to include the cunning good types but they are difficult to identify. Like in the second example Bhavana's mother in law probably belonged to the dog in the manger type but managed to say the polically correct thing.

The Brown Vagabond:I don't quite agree.There are a few that I know who cannot harm a fly. But being unable to rise to the occasion sets people against them.

Passerby55:You speak of ideals. I take a practical view. It is not fair on my part to give examples from the MIL/DIl perspective. Let me put it in a different way. A teacher is considered good only if she is compassionate towards the weaker student but is able to identify and bring out the best out of them. She has to be strict enough to ensure regularity at work. I know of a teacher who does not insist on any of these things and her heart melts when a student puts on a sad face on being admonished. While most of her students understand and rise up to her expectations there are a few that take advantage of her kindness. Her class is noisy and she is pulled up during meetings with the principal. In her case at least I feel a line should be drawn and a no nonsense attitude ought to be adopted. She is the same at home and her children are not subjected to any rules. They may suffer in the long run.

You say-
'Perhaps, it is not easy to tackle such people who do such acts. The (materialistic) the (well informed) world; finds them foolish!'

I think I talk about the practical world not about the materialistic one.

Just my two cents. You may be right.

Sri said...

Wow..nice post..didnt know there were so many types of MILs(as i was so used to the "cunning type"!!!!)

One thing i have learnt in these almost 3 years of marriage is that even if DIL-MIL are trying to get along despite differences, seemingly subtle comments from others esp MIL's siblings can wreak instant havoc. What starts as an honest misunderstanding gets blown out of proportion..

dr.antony said...

There is no goodness in them and they are just good looking people. But then,it would be silly if we dont identify them and let them know qbout it as well..Now a day,everyone is too smart to be taken for such rides.

I was busy with a change of job and missed some of your posts. Will sure catch up.

Anonymous said...

HHG, the first two MILs mentioned in your post very much sounds like of my MIL.

Sumana said...

HHG, sometimes what if the MIL is a mixture of all the above types at different situations with different people. What is she called ?? Nice post.

R's Mom said...

oh I so so understand that..behave like an angel, but dont help at all..those are the most irritating type of people! I loved this post HHG

Sugar and Spice said...

I can so relate to this post 'cos I've bumped into almost all these kinds of people, some where, some time. Great one, as usual! :)
When a person just keeps saying that he/she can be of immense help but not knowing how to help or not taking any step to be of help to the other, will do no good. In fact, all this will only create more problems. I personally think relationships can survive only when good intentions are translated into good actions.

Hip Grandma said...

Sri:There are shades and categories in all living organisms. With the capacity to think man can offer more variety than other organisms.
And you are right. The so called well wishing 'others' can cause more friction in a developing relationship than one can even imagine. Left on their own a MIL/DIL equation gets resolved easily.

dr.antony:the current generation is smart no doubt. But this applies to both groups. The current set of mothers in law are smart too and cannot be easily recognized for what they are.

jay:Is it? i too see quite a few like them

Sumana:If a mother in law is a rare combination of wile and wit the DIL will have to figure out as to how she may be dealt. But the real cunning ones are hard to expose. This does not necessarily apply to mothers/daughters in law. It could be a neighbor or a close friend/relative. I've dealt with one myself and I could not believe what I heard. She seemed so mild and soft.

R's Mom:True,true. It is easier to deal with the open ones.

Sugar and Spice:Not knowing how to help and acknowledging it helps. But if one deliberately pretends that she is clueless as to how she/he may help it shows up sooner or later.

I would myself have no hesitation in asking for domestic help if I feel that I would not be able to manage under the circumstance. I would certainly not offer to help and feign ignorance/indecisiveness.

sindhu said... true this one is..the so called white doves are really difficult to identify who can create a wedge in the family too and easily get away to read more

sindhu said...

how true...the so called white doves pretend so well that they are not easily identified..and thus they create wedge and get away with great fun ....will like to read more like this

Poornima said...

*digressing heavily & flashing evil grin* Hehehe! Im waiting for a post on you & your daughter in law, HHG, really curious to know!

passerby55 said...


Thank you for the explanation.

Hearing a "NO" is often not welcomed like a "YES".
"NO" could lead to stress factor to both the parties!

TO learn to deal with/welcome a "NO" and learn to say a "NO" perhaps needs commonsense, from both ends.

for some Saying a YES is better than a NO, as they keep themselves feeling good or think that they have made the other happy by saying a YES. When a polite NO could have made a lot of sense!


tys said...

theres this khalil gibran story called the honeyed act of kindness disguised within an intent full reasoning, isnt very nice to the recipent of that becomes almost a game...

but i wud like to offer another perspective to the stories u said...theres a probable chance that each of these MIL feels insecure and inadequate in a surrounding where they feel they try to fit in or be of some use is a very sad state..there seem to be in some houses a need for the older generation to pitch in and help...and sometimes being of help will be to stay out of the way..

wheres the older generations role?...what role do they have to play in a life where they have already done all that is required of them?

every act has an intention...there cannot be action without one..maybe understanding it will be a better way of avoiding a resentment to set in...

hire a maid..say that u dont like to watch MIL doing the win situation... u can tweak my ears

Renu said...

today I see many sugary sweet DILs and they use their MILs blatantly asking them to do everything just as you described and always being extra sweet.
I wouldnt call them good..good people are good in thoughts and deeds but may not be in words, wheres the upper stribe is good only in words.

Sherlyn said...

Very well written ma'am. I pity Pranati.Why is she so good to her MIL? You are correct goodness alone doesn't do a thing, smart thinking goes a long way specially in DIL and MIL relationship.I wish all Mils over the world understand that their Dils are also daughters of some parents.
(I know using short form has made the whole thing look funny ;p lol)
Smartass or just an ass? Find out.

Hip Grandma said...

sindhu:welcome and thanks.

poornima:No chance at all. My son and I are at a safe distance from each other. I don;t care too much for any place other than Jamshedpur and he prefers a more happening place. So you can flash you evil grin as much as you want.

BTW he is unmarried and you can recommend him to anyone with the above assurance. Ha, ha!

passerby55:yes one should learn to say 'no' and also to listen to a 'no'. If a MIL is really unable to cope with looking after the household her frank 'No' ought not to be misunderstood. Similarly neighbors and friends should not stretch beyond limits to get a good name. Limits can and should be set.

Tys:you say
'wheres the older generations role?...what role do they have to play in a life where they have already done all that is required of them?'

Exactly. If one feels that they've done what they could have done they ought not to decide whether their children may or may not hire a cook, gardener or a chauffeur. They are blamed when they offer to help and do nothing. this is sometimes done deliberately to settle scores.will leave screwing your ears for a later date. I know I have a deputy in Madhumita.

Renu:Very true. Such people are seen everywhere. In the work place they are work shirkers and manage to get away with it.No one ever seems to blame them.

Sherlyn:Welcome here. I think i am being a little harsh on the innocent good types one meets ever so often. They are annoying at times but not bad to deal with. At least they try their best to build a cordial relationship. It is the cunning good that can neither be ignored nor accommodated.