Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My new friend is selling one of those jewelry lines. Stella and Bella or whatever. The jewelry is not exactly my taste, but I feel bad not buying anything. She hasn’t pressured me at all, however I don’t want this to jeopardize a new friendship. Should I just buy something?
Keep Your Crown Jewels Away From Me
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Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My daughter Sadie is 11 and our neighbor’s daughter Alexis is 9. Alexis’ grandparents have a pool and Alexis invited Sadie to come swim. Alexis is used to getting her way so her grandpa said yes. This is the first time in 2 years that Sadie has been invited to swim. I said only 30 minutes because we had plans that day.
My daughter Sadie doesn’t swim well and I was under the impression that the grandma would watch them swim, but based on what my daughter told me, I don’t think they were supervised well. Plus, Alexis begged Sadie to jump off the diving board after I told both of them she had to stay in the shallow end.
I am not technically invited to go to their house, but feel like I need to if she goes swimming. And they may not really want Sadie over there and are just letting Alexis have her way. So do you think I should go over there to watch her swim? She was invited today and Sadie begged but I just said no. I don’t want to annoy Alexis’ grandparents. What do you think?
Mi Pool, Tu Pool?
Dear Mi Pool, Tu Pool,
My grandparents had a pool growing up and I loved inviting friends over to swim. And I think they loved it too because my grandmother would always bring us ice tea with real mint leaves poolside. Real mint leaves! Can you imagine that kind of service today?
And yes, there was that small incident when I rode my bicycle into the pool but overall it was pretty stress-free and enjoyable for them having me and my friends over.
I wouldn’t assume that Alexis’ grandparents don’t want Sadie over. If only there was some kind of telepathic way to know for sure. Wait – I’ve got it. And this is better than mental telepathy – the telephone!
Just give them a call and say, “Alexis has invited Sadie over to swim. I wanted to make sure it’s okay and not a bother for you.” And if they agree to have her over with a hearty, “No problem!” then please say the following. “Sadie isn’t a strong swimmer so would you mind if I came over and watched the girls in the pool?” I can imagine them being very relieved that you are taking on the responsibility and they don’t have to worry about their safety in the pool.
And that is really the most important part because WATER IS DANGEROUS. Please take it from someone whose sister almost drowned, you can not be too cautious around water. Children (even strong swimmers) need to be watched in the pool because anything can happen. If possible, I would also sign Sadie up for some swim instruction as soon as possible. Then both of you can feel more comfortable when she is in the water.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have always loved my sister-in-law, even though she’s always been outspoken and bossy and I’m not. But as we’ve gotten older, when she comes to visit she makes comments about my house and the way we serve dinner etc. She says we have too much “stuff” in our house.
My house isn’t bad at all, but not the showplace that hers is — she has no life other than keeping house and babysitting her grandkids — I’m working, performing, doing community work etc. I hate to cook and hubby and I always invite her & her boyfriend out to eat when they come to visit, but she insists on eating in and having me cook, and the table has to be set a certain way etc. So after I rearrange things and get out all the proper dishes etc., as soon as we eat dinner, she then goes to bed as she’s an early to bed/early to rise type, while I’m a night owl and would love to stay up and talk.
I find myself getting really angry at her in my head even when she’s not around, wondering whether I should tell her to stop ‘bossing’ me around in my own home next time she visits. She has even gone through some of my kitchen drawers and tossed things out that she felt I didn’t need anymore. I’m a person who likes to keep the peace no matter what, but she’s getting to me. Fortunately they don’t visit that often as they live a couple of hours away. Would love to see your opinion on this one.
Tired of Keeping the Peace
Dear Tired Peace-Keeper,
She goes through your kitchen drawers and throws out things she feels you don’t need anymore? What the WHAAAAT??!!!
Girl, you are way too nice. There is keeping the peace, and then there’s being a doormat. Your sister-in-law sounds incredibly rude and demanding, but it also sounds like you — and your husband — have let her get away with this behavior for years.
The problem is, if you called her up right now and said, “I hate how bossy you are when you come to my house!” she would have no clue what you’re talking about because you have never once called her on any of her bad behavior. And now, you’ve let your frustration with her build so much that as soon as she walks in the door on her next visit and says, “Hello,” you’ll scream, “Stop bossing me around!”
Look, I get it. I hate confrontation. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But having imaginary fights saps your energy, and doesn’t solve the problem. So, you have a few choices:
1. The next time you invite them for a visit, insist on going out for the meal. If the sister-in-law pushes back, do NOT back down. Don’t bring up the past, just tell her you really don’t feel like having people over, and if she won’t go out, maybe they should plan a visit for another time when they are willing to go out.
2. I’ve actually given this advice before. If you cave, and have them over to your house, every time your SIL does one of her bossy/inappropriate/rude things, turn to your husband and shout “Drink!” When she asks what that’s about, laugh it off and tell her it cracks you guys up how bossy she is all the time.
3. Go to her house! Give her a taste of her own medicine. Maybe move something from the downstairs bathroom to the upstairs bathroom and tell her you think it looks better that way. Two wrongs may not make a right, but sometimes they sure to feel good.
You sound like a good person. You deserve to have people treat you nicely in return.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Do I have to give my kid’s teacher an end of the year gift if I hate her?
She Doesn’t Even Deserve a Crappy Gift Certificate to the Dollar Store
Dear She Doesn’t Even Deserve a Crappy Gift Certificate to the Dollar Store,
I’ve never hated one of my kids’ teachers but I have hated lots of other things. Like trying on bras in some snotty department store. Eating eggplant. Sitting in traffic. And don’t even get me started on the trifecta of trying on bras while eating eggplant in traffic. That is the worst. So I understand your feelings.
You could give her something that she clearly already has a million of – like a frame or a mug. Even better, get one with an apple on it! She can stew over that annoying gift. Or how about an expired gift certificate. I know you have one in your wallet. Or maybe a Yankee Candle in the scent Mmm… Bacon. Nothing says, “Thanks for being a jerk to my kid” like a bacon scented candle.
Another option is to “accidentally” forget to give her a gift all together. Kind of like how she forgot to be nice to your child all year long. But your class might be doing a group cash gift. If that’s the case, suck it up, throw in your $20 and be done with it. Think of it as putting good karma into the universe. And hopefully that means none of your younger kids (if you have them) will get this rotten teacher.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My 10 year daughter is best friends with a girl whose mother’s parenting style is very different from mine. She allows her daughter to watch PG-13 movies and to wear clothing that I consider inappropriate. Last summer my daughter asked for a bikini like the one her friend wears instead of a one-piece that I bought for her. I explained that different families have different rules, but I wonder if I should speak to the mom. We are on friendly terms, and I wonder if sharing my concerns with her would make her rethink some of her choices.
Dear NoBikini Mom,
Before I get to the larger issue, I want cross the easy part of this off my list.
One piece bathing suits (scientific name maillot) can be uncomfortable. What they offer in modesty they make up in sheer wetness all over the stomach area once you’re out of the pool. That does not mean that your daughter needs to wear a thong bikini, but you should know that there are a lot of age-appropriate options out there.
Now onto the bigger issue. You know that your parenting style is different from the other mom’s. Your daughters are best friends despite (or maybe because?) of these differences. You took the important step of telling your daughter honestly that each family’s rules are different and now you are wondering if you should share your views with the other mom. And here’s my answer. Yes. And also, no.
Yes, because you are friendly and people who are on friendly terms and whose children are best friends should discuss issues that concern their children. Sharing ideas is important and can be eye-opening for each of you.
No, because you seem to want to win her over to your way of thinking. If your goal in having this discussion with her is to have her fall to her knees and start repenting for parenting her kid in way that is inconsistent with your philosophy, I suggest you refrain. (Or if you choose to proceed, give Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise a heads up. They need 24 hours to get the camera crews ready.) Because the judgey talk of “my way is better than your way” has never improved a relationship.
Chances are the other mom already knows how you feel about the various issues, and perhaps she is taking the Agree to Disagree route on this one.
And when it comes to parenting our kids, there is nothing wrong with that.
Best of luck,