A Lesson In Respect

I was having a great day with my youngest son, Tim, last Saturday. He wanted to try his hand at baking so after lunch I helped him with a blueberry jam muffin recipe. Then later on in the afternoon he surprised me by saying that he would be cooking supper. He made delicious Cajun shrimp served on buttered noodles.

After supper I started doing the dishes at a leisurely pace. I had been soaking the muffin pan because jam that has been baked is very sticky. I washed everything else and left the pan for last. I was washing the pan with a dish cloth when Tim came bounding into the kitchen. He looked at what I was doing and uttered that hated phrase, ''you're not doing it right''! UGH!!!! Those dreaded words immediately brought back memories of when my husband used to say them to me-you're not vacuuming right-you don't drive right-you can't slice tomatoes right....etc-ad nauseum.

I managed to not lose my temper, I sat down, and told Tim to finish washing the pan, which he did and he proceeded to show me the ''right'' way to was the pan by picking up the soap pad. ''See Mom, it's much better and faster this way'' he said. I asked him to look at the half of the pan I had already washed with the dish cloth. ''Is it clean?'' I asked him. ''Yes'' he answered. I explained to him that there is usually more than one way to do something and that most of the time the speed at which it is accomplished is of little importance as long as it gets done. I also told him how hurtful that was to tell someone that they were doing it wrong. I told him that I am always open to suggestions, but being told that I'm doing it wrong will immediately close my mind and further suggestions will most  likely go unheeded.

I know that Tim didn't mean to be hurtful, but I couldn't't let this slide. I told him that by pointing out how hurtful that phrase is, I had helped  prevent many arguments and resentments with a future wife. In the end, that is much more important than a clean muffin pan.

jojewel jojewel
56-60, F
34 Responses Mar 23, 2010

good story :) I've worked w/ control freaks like this where no way is right unless it is their way-- such an unattractive quality.

Thank you Hermione! I certainly plan too :)<br />
I'm sorry that you have to live with that, SatinPanties! Words can be so hurtful :(<br />
Thank you, Takeiteasy! It is important to teach children how to take care of themselves.<br />
No, he didn't mean to hurt, Chykco, and I knew that. I also know that I've been blessed with a wonderful son :)

Its a blessing having a good son like Tim. A lot of Parents pray day in and out, wishing to have a son like him. He didnt mean to hurt. I love him.

Its a blessing having a good son like Tim. A lot of Parents pray day in and out, wishing to have a son like him. He didnt mean to hurt. I love him.

Yes, you do sound like a great mom, and your son sounds super too. Both of you are lucky to have each other; you for having a son who cooks! (and apparently cleans) and him for having an involved, open minded, teaching mom. Learning that there is no right way but many ways is one of the most important lessons any of us can learn, not just for his future relationships, but for himself.

I wish someone had done that with the woman with whom I live. Even when the project has very little to do with her when she comments she almost always manages to get in a negative zinger, usually first.

You sound like an amazing mum.<br />
You will have a wonderful little boy on your hands if you keep dealing with him this way.<br />
Keep powering through!

He will make a good housewife to some girl, maybe!<br />
Was talking to a 19-year-old girl this morning, and she said her boy friend was an excellent cook, but she could do NOTHING!!!<br />
I learned how to cook at my Mother's knee (or some other low joint!). When I was eight, I was left in the charge of a baby sitter (well, he was really for my baby brother!!!) and I said I was allowed to cook. He believed me.<br />
So I cooked a potato and cheese concoction. When my parents returned, Mum made Dad taste it. He was sadi it was good. So Mjum tasted it; she aaid it was not bad.<br />
Now THAT was a compliment!!!

Tim is a 21 year old young man. He is a biology major at University and he has just discovered a passion for baking. I guess he likes measuring out the ingredients much like he does when he does in the chemistry lab, Lol! Last week-end he made a batch of brownies.

how old is Tim?

Thank you for your comment, Maria. I did not get defensive with Tim as I knew that he meant no harm.<br />
I also knew that if I had the lesson would have been lost on him as he would have probably closed his mind to my words. This story is entirely about his choice of words. If he had simply asked why I wasn't using the soap pad I would have answered him and there wouldn't have been a story.<br />
Had I noticed that the jam wasn't coming off with the dish cloth, I would have used the soap pad, but as it was and I was in no particular hurry, I saw no compelling reason to use it.

You have great interaction with your son. However when you say "there is usually more than one way to do something and that most of the time the speed at which it is accomplished is of little importance as long as it gets done." , it misses the main point a bit. You see, his intention was to help you do things in a easier fashion (and practical advice is useful and nothing to get defensive about). There is little merit in doing things simply out of habit. The main point for me is that you did not like "the way he spoke to you" and this indeed goes way beyond the pan. I had a similar conflict recently and the person told me (let's call him A) :" I take the trouble to point something out and you want me to take double the trouble to still find a "nice" way of framing it"? While I can see your point (believe me), I can also se the point of person A. How can we compromise?<br />
I am curious: In all of this, did you ever tell your son that while you detested the way he spoke to you, you still appreciated that he cared to give you this little time saving trick in washing the pan?<br />
Best wishes,<br />

Dear Fallflower, I've read your stories and learned a few lessons from you!

Jojewel, you are always showing me how to be a better mom.

You are right, LadyA. As children approach adolescence they respond less to the ''Mom Card''. I feel the lesson is better learned with an unheated discussion.

Thank you, Healthyself! The reason I was able to do that is because Tim was without malice when he uttered the phrase, he just used the wrong words. I also believe that if I had responded angrily, the lesson would have been lost.

Yes it is, Coyote!<br />
Thank you, K-dog!(cheeks bright red again!)<br />
AT, I am so sorry that you had to hear that type of criticism so often when you were growing up, but I am happy that you found the strength to overcome its effects.<br />
Teaching my sons how to cook not only gave them a sense of accomplishment but me also. There is something very satisfying in knowing that my boys can fend for themselves in a kitchen and that I'm responsible for that.<br />
You're welcome,Texanbychoice! Being married to someone who is very critical of everything I do, I can understand your wife. No amount of ''you're beautiful's'' will erase a ''D*mn, you're ugly'' said in a moment of anger. At least, though, you have realized that, so many more never do.<br />
That's right, SirPhoenix, it is a compliment to you that your wife wants to look good when she goes out with you.

people who got low self-esteem are always being told "you are not doing it well". When I was growing up, I heard this a thousand times. They stopped telling me when I became more confident, even as I was doing things exactly as I did before.<br />
<br />
You also touched ona different kind of universal truth. A kitchen can accommodate, at most one active person at any one time. There are small exceptions, e.g. a loving mum introducing her child to household chores. But with adults, with a sovereign self, only one can be the master in a kitchen.


Coyotegray, I love that clumsy maleness. I was brought up in a family of girls and I didn't know much about little boys. Then my sons came along and taught me so much. I learned how much fun it is to jump in puddles, I learned where the best places to find caterpillars and lady bugs are, and I learned that I'm still learning, every day.

Dept. of Family and Children Services...How dare I allow my son to use a dangerous weapon!

It is so important Lilt. The last time I was hospitalized it was for 5 weeks. Tim was only ten at the time and he told me recently that all they had every day for supper during that time was Subway sandwiches. <br />
I can imagine that if you gave your son permission to use real knives he knew to be extra careful so not to lose that privilege. (What is DFACS?)

Yes, good comment, Itosh. <br />
Empathy...another important ingredient to add to the stew.<br />
<br />
All my boys love to cook, as well. Everybody has to eat, right? Even our youngest was making his own cucumber salad when he was 4. And he even got to use the real knives. Call DFACS!

Thanks, Lilt! I made it a point of teaching both boys to cook. My oldest, Jay, has been on his own for almost 3 years now and it is always a treat when he invites us over for a meal. My H can boil water and make toast and that's it so I wanted the boys to be able to do more than that.<br />
Thank you for your comment Itoshinoeri! I couldn't agree with you more!

I commend you for teaching Tim to cook. It's a great gift parents can give their kids. I am shocked at many people do not know their away around the kitchen. And what picky eaters they are!

Thank you Enna for making my cheeks turn bright red :)

JJ, you are a wonderful mother. Your boys are lucky to have such a high quality Mum. Well, you are a high quality person in every respect, so OF COURSE you are a terrific Mum too!

Thank you,Lilt! You're so ''right'' there! <br />
Exactly, Frito. Even though I knew that Tim didn't mean to be hurtful, I think I helped him understand that his choice of words were.

Wonderful. story...criticism stings and by calmly talking with Tim I believe you've helped him see that there's many different points of view...none of them necessarily "right."

Great story, Jo.<br />
I think being "right" has been the downfall of many relationships.

Thank you, AC! I'm pretty lucky too, I have 2 great boys!

That boy is lucky.

Exactly, Destry. He said it without malice, but he understood how hurtful those words are when I explained it to him. Our future daughters-in-law will owe us big time! Lol!<br />
Thank you Gryfnn, I sure hope so!

It sounds like you are really raising a good son--and a future good man.