You know what's not helpful?
Cleaning the kitchen by loading all the dirty dishes stacked next to the sink INTO the sink so high that you cannot even swing the faucet, let alone turn on the water. (Not my photo, but illustrative nonetheless.)
Then, if you take all the clean dishes OUT of the dishwasher, but stack them next to the sink because, "I would have put them away, but I didn't know where they go." (Hint: Pots with pots, plastic containers with plastic containers, and dishes with dishes.), you can almost guarantee that the owner of said kitchen will walk in and humph slightly as she is putting the dishes away.
"I was just trying to help."
You know what's weird?
Coming to someone's house on the first day of a visit with a full load of laundry. (OK, they had been in SoCal the week earlier, so I it's not as if they packed from home out of the laundry bin. But wouldn't you ask first?)
You know what's weirder?
Coming to the house on the second day of your visit with four items of laundry. You can also guarantee your hostess will lose her mind if you spend the next full day saying, "Can I put my clothes in your washer?" "Since the washer is already going, can I just put my clothes here in the hallway until yours are done?" "How long is your washer cycle?" "Suisan, I'd put the clothes in the washer, but I'm not sure how it works." "Is the wash done? Should it go in the dryer?" "How long is your dryer cycle?" "Should I check the dryer?" "Oh....Did you put a bedspread in with my clothes? Are these my clothes? Oh...I guess that's OK." If she brings laundry today I'll totally lose it. (By the way. I have three kids. We generate a LOT of laundry. I'd kind of like to put MY stuff in now.)
And then there's the whole "I can't hear you!" problem.
"You know, Mom. Let's take Eldest Daughter out of school on Wednesday and take her to the art museum in San Francisco. She's been dying to go to the art museum."
"That sounds great! Oh! You know what's playing in San Francisco: The Titanic Exhibit. There's all sorts of artifacts from the Titanic, letters, all sorts of things. I saw it in Boston."
"I think she really would like to go to the art museum. She wants to sketch clothing and drapery, and she's interested in paintings."
"Doesn't she like the Titanic?"
"Yeah. But it's not really her thing."
"Is the Titanic Exhibit close to the art museum?"
"I dunno. But if we go to San Francisco to see a museum, I'd really want to go to an art museum. She'd be so excited. She'd LOVE you for it."
"Can we do both?"
"Two exhibits, one day? No. That's not a good idea. Especially not with her. She'd totally be in a bad mood for the second exhibit. She's not one for a lot of walking."
"We could do the Titanic first. At least she'd be in a good mood for that."
This is the moment where some switch flips in my head, my vision goes all purple and green, and my internal voice starts screeching, "OH MY GOD! NO! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY, 'NO!' SHE DOESN'T WANT TO SEE THE FUCKING TITANIC EXHIBIT! ONLY YOU DO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!"
With this rumbling just behind my teeth, trying to escape in an explosion all over her oblivious head, I instead say, "Look. She's an artist. She wants to go to an art museum. I would think that you would want to make her happy. If you don't, if you want to make her miserable, then fine, take her to the Titanic exhibit. She can spend her whole time rolling her eyes and snarking on it. Ought to be a great day."
"Does she always get what she wants?"
I know she's my mother and I'm supposed to honor my parents and all that, but I seriously want to drive her teeth down her throat. But that would be bad. I know that.
Yesterday, we pulled the youngest daughter out of school and toured the Jelly Belly factory. Lots of fun. On the tour, walking through the factory, my mother says from just behind me, "The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has an excellent Impresionist collection." I wasn't sure what to say, so I said nothing. Then a while later she says, "The Boston Museum of Science is so great. Have you been?"
At this point I stopped and turned around. "Have you lost your mind? I grew UP in Boston. I went at least a thousand times when I was a kid. Last time we were in Boston, YOU TOOK us to the Museum of Science. Yes! I've been to the Museum of Science."
"Did [Eldest Daughter] like it?"
"There's a lot of science in the Titanic Exhibit."
I just stood there, frozen. Awestruck, really. She is completely incapable of hearing the word: no. It simply doesn't exist for her. I'm not even sure how we got to the point where we're fighting about the fucking Titanic Exhibit, either. It all came on so fast.
So I dropped it. I never said what we were or were not going to do today. Last night, as we were watching "House" (OMG. They wouldn't leave. They had to sit on my couch to watch it. And then they stayed for the news after.), I said, "If we want to see the Titanic Exhibit, then I'll leave all the kids in school, and we can go. If we want to see the Art Museum, then I'll pull [Eldest Daughter] out, because she'd love it."
"Well, if you don't want to see the Titanic, then I guess we don't have to go. But you're missing a great exhibit. Let's go to the Art Museum then. Do they have good any ones in San Francisco?"
I couldn't help myself. "No, Mom. They suck. The Legion of Honor is a piece of crap, and let's not even get started on the de Young."
(Photo from Penny Postcards)
At least my Dad chuckled at that one.
One day soon they WILL go home.