Learn The Script, Ma! - A minor rant of major frustration

Even outside the world of dominatrixing, there are certain verbal exchanges that need to go a particular, set way. Both parties know what to expect, and it allows for the free exchange of information with a minimum of fuss and muss. I think of this concept as ‘scripting’. Fr’instance:

Meeting an aquaintance in the hallway…
Party 1: Hi!
Party 2: How are you?
Party 1: Fine. And you?
Party 2: Fine.

Some people understand this concept; some obviously don’t. My obnoxious mother is among the don’t understands. This makes me so angry. I had the following conversation with her, then with my dad (on the phone) last night.

Me: So, I had two Anatomy tests tonight - both lecture and lab. Guess how I did?
Her: 104
Me: 104 isn’t even a choice, tests are scored from 0 to 100. Why do you always guess beyond the realm of possibility?
Her (irritated now): 89
Me: No. I made a 99 on both of them!
Her (disinterested): Oh.
:: pause for several moments, me expectant, her ignoring me ::
Me: Are you proud of me?
Her: Yes…
Me: Well then say it!
Her: (sigh)
Me (louder): Just say, ‘I’m proud of you’!
Her (irritated): I’m proud of you.
Me (irritated, walking off): That’s a lie.
The result was we both felt bad, angry, and disappointed, about something that should have been nice. This is so frustrating for both of us, and we do this every time there is information I want to share with her.

Now with my dad, for contrast - same topic.
Me: So, I had two Anatomy tests tonight, both lab and lecture. Guess how I did?
Him: How?
Me: I made a 99 on both of them!
Him: I’m proud of you!
Me: Thanks, I’m glad you are.
Him*: We’ll have to do something nice this weekend to celebrate.
Result was a good exchange, a perfect perfomance. Both parties ended the interaction feeling better than when they began. Pride and affirmation - what more could anyone want?

This happens with everything I’ve ever needed to speak to her about, for the past 27 years. She refuses to give the appropriate answer, so that I can make the next statement, and we end up screaming at each other and stomping around the fucking house for days. I don’t see how she could interact with others of her species and not realize there are certain forms you can follow to make said interaction less confrontational. For chrissakes, woman, just say the words!
Is that really too much to ask?
***** This bit is not in the script and was just some surprise extra pleasantness my dad threw in. What a great guy, huh?

I imagine you were being rhetorical but the answer is

**Yes. Yes it is too much to ask. **

You’ve been trying for 27 years without success. You seem intelligent and self-aware - I believe if there were a way to accomplish this task, short of violence, you would have done it by now. You can give it another year or two, or ten, but that’s really up to you.

I speak from my own experience, with my own dear sweet mother. She is who she is. Just be glad your father is one of the good ones.

Q: Why can my family always push my buttons?
A: Because they’re the ones who installed them.

Did you mother ever go to college or become something other than wife and mother? Maybe she is envious of you and doesn’t want to acknowledge when you do something that she didn’t or couldn’t do.

I’ve learned not to share accomplishments with my parents, as they are never very interested and just go on to blab about their problems. Example:

Me: Hey, I did fantastic in all my classes this semester! I got rave reviews on my papers and I’m really proud of myself.
Them:Really? I got a toenail removed last week. I’ll bet you didn’t even know I was in the hospital for it, did you?


As far as those dialogues go, my Dad is great. Always makes me laugh. For example:

Me: Dad, GUESS how much I got these shoes for?
Dad: 50 cents?
Dad: Ok, ok- 75 cents?
Me: (Huffing and puffing)No! $10.00- can you believe it?
Dad: No, not really. Can you get your money back?

That kind of exchange was always in jest and never failed to crack me up.

Even though it’s sometimes done in jest, those exchanges can drive you nuts, especially when you’re discussing something serious.

For what it’s worth, I’m proud of your Anatomy test scores :slight_smile:


You are expecting her to say things that aren’t written on her script. You’re reading from two different scripts.

You’re a smart gal. It’ll be easier if you just stop setting your expectations for her higher than she is willing to go. I’ve found that people who have trouble giving positive reinforcement weren’t given it as children - they don’t know how to do it.

You’re Dad sounds like you guys are on the same page. Nice guy!

It’s good to see you are doing your level best to not be confrontational as well.

YAY!!! You people are the greatest, you know? A little sympathy and commisseration was all I was looking for, and now I feel way better. I even got some good ideas.

Papermache Prince - You’re obviously right - we won’t be on the same page if we haven’t been yet. Maybe I could try just leaving her notes so’s we don’t have to actually speak. And I love your Q&A - it’s absolutely the truth! :smiley:

Cleosia - My mom has a degree in elementary education and has done some graduate work in accounting. She’s worked outside the home most of my life. But you may be right about the jealousy to a point: I’ve always been the “smart” one in the family, and for all my alleged potential I have accomplished relatively little in real terms. She could just be pissed that I haven’t done more yet and am starting over with a career that is more promising than hers.

Zette - Thanks for the laugh! Humor seems entirely lacking in my relationship, and I see now that it would probably help. Our parents must be related - my mom has said the Exact Same Thing to me about the toenail.

BunnyGirl - You gave me a fabulous idea: I’ll just print up a script and hand it to my mom before I begin. Heh, she’d probably keel over.

Drastic - Yeah, she and I have always had an agressive-aggressive relationship. Usually, I don’t add the “beyond the realm of possibility” bit, just it was the third time in as many weeks that she’s trumped my good news with her impossible expectations. Reporting a different exchange would have been more representative of standard, but I wanted to give an accurate picture of last night’s.

My mom is dense like this too.
You could try changing your script. I usually try something like:

Hey Mom
I got a 99 on both of my anatomy exams… I think I’m gonna go get ice cream to celebrate. Wanna come?

This way I have announced my news and given my dense mother a clue as to how she is supposed to react (happiness). As an added benifit, I now have a significant chance of getting ice cream (that I happily would have paid for both of us) for free. And I get to spend time with my mom. As annoying as she can be, I love her, and parents aren’t around forever. I’d hate to look back and think I missed sharing things with my mom just because she communicates differently.

(or you could try asking your dad to translate… if you make it funny enough, you might get your point across)


Me: So, I had two Anatomy tests tonight - both lecture and lab. Guess how I did?
Her: <sarcastic> 104 <Why is shy always bragging? Doesn’t she know it makes her look vain?>
Me: 104 isn’t even a choice, tests are scored from 0 to 100. Why do you always guess beyond the realm of possibility?
Her (irritated now): 89 <Ha, that’s a B. See what she says to that.>
Me: No. I made a 99 on both of them!
Her (disinterested): Oh. <I TRIED to teach her modesty.>
:: pause for several moments, me expectant, her ignoring me ::
Me: Are you proud of me?
Her: Yes… <She made an almost perfect score on two difficult tests, but that’s not enough for her?!>
Me: Well then say it!
Her: (sigh) <I just did!>
Me (louder): Just say, ‘I’m proud of you’!
Her (irritated): I’m proud of you.
Me (irritated, walking off): That’s a lie.
Her <Now she’s calling me a liar.>

I think it’s great that you did well on these tests. I’m sure your mother does too. But maybe your mother expects it, and doesn’t think it’s a big deal. You don’t call her up to tell her you tied your own shoelaces. Or maybe (like in the my imaginary notes above) she doesn’t think you should be telling everyone about it. Does she tell people when she does well? Some people have an odd attitude about things like that.

I’m not criticizing you, I’m just trying to understand why your mother would respond like this. She has a different script. Maybe in her script you say, “I’m doing great in all my classes,” and leave it at that.

Anyway, your dad’s on the same page, so be glad of that!

I think its the purogative of mothers to drive their daughters MENTAL!! My mom certainly does her darndest to make me insane!

Her favorite mantra(s) are:

“Dear, are you getting a little broad accross the beam?”

followed, maybe 2 days later with

“Dear, you’re so god-damn skinny - you really need to put on some weight.”

apparently, not on my beam.

Oddly, she functions very well with others, so I think it must be a mother/daughter thing. Incidentally, my grandmother does it to my mom, so everything works out in the end I spose.

Try to take interactions with yer mom with a grain of salt - you’ll feel better. And congrats on your anatomy tests! Those are super marks!


I don’t get it - if you don’t tell your mother how smart you are, how can she brag about it to all her friends?

Ah, the proverbial handwriting on the wall. Could be she’s emotionally/socially illiterate but could be she she just doesn’t like what she’s reading.

Either way it’s frustrating AND futile to combat.

She’s acting from her own script. You can’t change her. At most you can abandon the script. Maybe the best you can do is a blank silence followed by quick, casual disconnection.

Cues and stage directions only work when all involved parties honor them. It’s godawful hard when potential magic is wasted but if she won’t/can’t respect the company…

Draw your strength from respectful, joyful people who recongnize your effort.

Wishing you well–while ruthlessly torturing analogies,

Me: I got my grades today… I got a 4.0!
(this is in college, 3rd semester in a row)
Mom: Well I should hope so.
Also, my mom doesn’t brag about me to her friends, she tries to humiliate me. She goes on and on about the worst things I’ve ever done or tries to make me sound stupid. Especially if I’m there. And no, it isn’t in a teasing way.


Me: So, I had two Anatomy tests tonight - both lecture and lab. Guess how I did?
Her: <deliberately goofball> 104 <I know she did well, I’ll make a joke while I wait for her to tell me>
Me: 104 isn’t even a choice, tests are scored from 0 to 100. Why do you always guess beyond the realm of possibility?
Her (irritated now): 89 <Oh, for the love of…My daughter, the genius, can’t tell a joke when sees one…>

The rest plays out in pretty much the same vein.

Me: So, I had two Anatomy tests tonight - both lecture and lab. Guess how I did?

Her: <deliberately malign> 104 <I know she did well, I’ll make a sardonic reply that shows I don’t care.>

Me: 104 isn’t even a choice, tests are scored from 0 to 100. Why do you always guess beyond the realm of possibility?

Her (irritated now): 89 <Why can’t she shut up about her successes? I sacrificed my dreams to have her, and I resent her with every fiber of my being for doing better than I did.>

This is not to say her mother was really thinking this, but some mothers do. Mine is a good example of this. Not all mothers are sweet and nice. Some people get June Cleaver, and some get Joan Crawford.

Veb - When I take my show on the road, she will NOT make the touring production!

For some reason, your analogy led me on a train of thought that ended with a line from one of Patsy’s colleagues on Absolutely Fabulous: “So, a facelift is an operation? I just thought it had something to do with good lighting.”

Wow. I definitely know where you’re coming from, missdavis. Here’s an example from my end, which actually happened in a restaurant:

Me: I got two tests back today!
Mom: How’d you do?
Me: Really well! I got a 100 on one and a 93 on the other!
Mom: <disinterested> What did you miss the three points on?

It’s not like it’s hard to sound just a little proud…

My High School gave three grades per class. The first was the standard A through F and the second two were for “Work Habits” and “Cooperation.” For the last two you could get an E, S or U (excellent, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.) Someone who tried really hard and was polite might get a CEE. Someone who didn’t work up to their potential but didn’t cause problems might get a BSE or BUE. Someone (like me) who did well on all tests and did all of their homework but was a smartass might get an AES.

One fine day I came home with a report card that had the following grades: AEE, AES, AEE, AEE, AES, AEE. Straight fucking A’s. Here is the conversation that resulted:

Me: Hey Mom, you need to sign my report card.
Mom: <looks at grades for ten seconds> What are these S’s for?
Sister: Are you kidding? He just brought home straight A’s.
Mom: Well that’s what he’s expected to do.

…and they wonder why I’m not having kids.

There’s hope for missdavis though. That happened close to 20 years ago. Mom now feels horrible about the way she treated me and couldn’t be prouder of me.


I do think that expecting your mom to know what you want her to say is unreasonable. These little “scripts” are alot more obvious to some people than others, and many people out there are quite literal: when asked a question, they try to answer it it. I understand why you don’t see why it is so hard for her to learn whatyou expect, but she may also be thinking “I don’t see why it is so hard for her to learn that I don’t like to be asked questions that I don’t know hte answer to.” Since you have been through this ritual 100 times before, why can’t you just say “Hey! I got a 99 on my two hard tests today!”?

What did you miss the THREE points on? Okaaay.

My mom is sort of the same way. Except she has no script whatsoever. This only happens on the phone. Example:

Me: Hello?
Mom: Hi.
Me: Who’s this?
Mom: Your mother.
Me: Oh. What do you want? (not sarcastic or snotty or anything)
Mom: Oh, just checkin’ on ya.
Me: OK. Oh, I just remembered (I proceed, telling a humorous story that I know she will be interested in hearing. This story is a bit lengthy.)
Me: (Thinking: What the heck? Why isn’t she saying anything?)
Me: (Thinking: Ugh!)
Me: What don’t you SAY anything?
Mom: What do you mean? (kind of laughing)
Me: I just told you a long story and then you didn’t say anything at all! (kind of mad)
Mom: You’re being mean, now. (Serious)
Me: No, I’m not.
Mom: Bye. (Click).

She’s psycho! At least this only happens on the phone.

I think your mother is absolutely at fault. But some people are just not capable of carrying on any sort of conversation because they simply don’t understand the most basic rules. I doubt your mother will ever change her ways, probably because she doesn’t realize that she should. I suggest a modification of your script used only when talking to her. Pandora had a good idea. Good luck.