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To be revolted by my MILs (lack of) table manners?

(56 Posts)
HollyHobie Mon 15-Sep-14 15:21:03

My MIL lives in another part of the country but is coming to stay for a couple of days next week and I can already feel myself getting wound up when I think about our meals together. No one else has ever had this effect on me.

Throughout every meal we must endure her incessant speaking with her mouth full of food. This occasionally results in morsels flying out towards an unsuspecting diner. Everything is chewed with her mouth open leaving us in no doubt of the current state of the contents. This is accompanied by wild gesticulation using her cutlery, usually knife, to ensure no one misses her constant interruptions of whoever is talking. Her bright hair is unfortunately not matched by her intellect and the overall effect could well have come from a Roald Dahl tale.

Unfortunately, I do not get on very well with my MIL, although she is blissfully unaware of this. She is a self-centred, domineering woman who shows no interest in her grandchildren. I have smiled sweetly throughout her visits over the years but am finding it harder to remain perfectly tolerant as the children are getting older. They have not yet asked why their granny is allowed to get away with such shocking table manners whilst they are not, but I worry that this day may not be far away.

Is there anything I can do to stay sane during her visit? Or suggestions for recipes which could minimise the unpleasantness? What can I say to the DC? If DH had shared her eating habits we would not have stayed a couple for very long!

I have NCed for this as I realise I'm probably being unfair, but it feels great to vent for a change!!

LouiseBourgeois Mon 15-Sep-14 15:33:23

Vent away, but this seems to be less about her table manners than the fact that you don't like her and think her hair is too loud and her brain is too soft.

I have some sympathy on the table manners issue, as my ILs both have appalling table manners. Though FIL is lovely, his problems with his ill-fitting dentures end up with regular revolting mealtime displays, and MIL has a disgusting habit of regularly putting her knife (which has always just been in her mouth) into a shared dish to hook out a morsel of food, rather than using the serving spoon lying in said dish to serve herself another helping. Despite DH pulling her up on it repeatedly.

When we lived in the ME and they visited, I have a memory of sitting down to lunch, very hungry, only for her to lick hummus off the serving spoon and plunge it back into to the shared bowl, with shreds of whatever else she had in her mouth sticking to it.

I'm easily disgusted, and I've had to leave the table often. No advice, other than don't sit opposite the offender or have any collective dishes on the table.

ApocalypseNowt Mon 15-Sep-14 15:34:25

Serve soup and only soup. No bread.

LouiseBourgeois Mon 15-Sep-14 15:35:09

Or use the opportunity 'coincidentally' to gently correct your children's table manners in front of her? 'No, sweetie, we never chew with our mouths open, DO WE?'

helensburgh Mon 15-Sep-14 15:35:52

Sit next to her, and avoid the knife !

Tat way you can't see her , grim and new it I'm afraid.

It's not forever.

My mum does similar and I just grin and bear it. Easier prob as she's my mum not MIL.

MaryWestmacott Mon 15-Sep-14 15:42:47

Try to pick a seat where you don't have to look directly at her (but your DH does rather than one of the dcs), pick menus that limit the issue (no spag Bol), drink wine, lots of lovely wine. Consider sending DH with the dcs to her for a visit without you ("a daddy and children adventure! Won't that be fun?!?")

quietbatperson Mon 15-Sep-14 17:07:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

emotionsecho Mon 15-Sep-14 17:20:36

Poor you OP, I couldn't stomach being at a table with someone with such apalling manners I would have to say something and probably leave the table, dh is the same he couldn't cope with it either. Any chance your dh could say something to her, along the lines of "we are very aware of the importance of good table manners and are instilling them in our children so please watch yours, no eating with mouth open, waving cutlery about, not using serving spoons, thank you."

Either that or somewhere special where she has to eat alone as there is just not enough room at the tablegrin

Cornettoninja Mon 15-Sep-14 17:28:13

I would have no qualms at all with training up the children with the phrase 'say it don't spray it' and using their 'don't kids come out with the funniest things they pick up' as a way to laugh it off.

Floisme Mon 15-Sep-14 17:28:59

I was sympathetic till I got to this bit: Her bright hair is unfortunately not matched by her intellect and the overall effect could well have come from a Roald Dahl tale.
Then I switched.

threepiecesuite Mon 15-Sep-14 17:34:23

Deffo get the kids on board with telling her off. 'Grandma, that's very rude'.
Might shock her into realising.

Serenitysutton Mon 15-Sep-14 17:39:13

I sympathise, mine is the same. The worst is probably the slurping tea but she also licks her knife, sticks her finger in cappuccino and sucks the foam off, talks with her mouth full and spots food everywhere. It's totally hideous- I feel sick thinking about it

Soup might get slurped

Tadla Mon 15-Sep-14 17:39:48

my mum does this and my father is even worse. not very pleasant or perhaps im focussing on it too much! i try to tolerate it but let slip a comment like... "sorry could you say that again once you've gulped as it sounded a bit muffled".

Maisyblue Mon 15-Sep-14 17:55:17

For your next meal together arrange in advance for dh to start talking with mouth full, then make a big issue about it in front of mil, say something like "that's disgusting I can see the contents of your mouth", then turn to mil and say" I hate that do you, it's one of my pet hates, people talking with their mouths full". Hopefully she might just get the message.

parakeet Mon 15-Sep-14 18:00:31

I sympathise but think you just have to grin and bear it.

Kundry Mon 15-Sep-14 18:00:34

Start training the children to tell each other (and you) off for bad table manners. Then sit back and let them do the work for you smile

FelineLou Mon 15-Sep-14 18:09:23

Large floral display in middle of table. Yes correct children and point out how rude it is to eat with mouth open or talk with food flying.
Get DH to ask her to show children good manners.
Have picnics with sandwiches and sit in a row,
Soup for tea maybe rice and small bits of something on it.

quietbatperson Mon 15-Sep-14 18:14:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ragwort Mon 15-Sep-14 18:22:33

Don't serve soup - that will be even worse grin.

Can you develop a sudden need to go on a fast and say you cannot possibly join them at the meal table grin - or pretend you have a stomach bug and hide in the toilet? grin.

Could your DH say something to her?

It sounds really grim and horrible.

Gatehouse77 Mon 15-Sep-14 18:23:42

When my sister had similar table manners my Mum made her eat with a mirror in front of her so she could see what we all had to endure!

Mind you she also made us eat with books under our arms to stop us sticking our elbows out!

Vinomcstephens Mon 15-Sep-14 18:24:41

Am I the only one who would actually tell her about her disgusting manners? Seriously, if she's half as bad as you're making her out to be then I wouldn't tolerate it. What you've described is disgusting behaviour and I wouldn't put up with it at all. What's the worst that can happen?

I'm not suggesting telling her in a nasty way, as she could genuinely be unaware. But I would (as tactfully as I can...) make her aware of how awful her table manners are. Can you not do this?

Serenitysutton Mon 15-Sep-14 18:31:09

I'm not sure. I don't like my MIL much but it would humiliate her wouldn't it?

anonacfr Mon 15-Sep-14 18:33:47

Soup. Are you serious? Think of the sluuuuuuurping!

GilesGirl Mon 15-Sep-14 18:36:32

I agree with Vinomc. Tell her. But I don't agree tell her nicely.

'My god MIL I don't want to see your chewed food!!'

But, then, I'm a bit of a bitch.

ItsDinah Mon 15-Sep-14 18:42:46

Ask if her dentist has ever advised her about the misalignment of her jaws so that she is unable to close her mouth while eating. If she has not consulted then perhaps she should. Misalignments can lead to other problems- headaches etc. Be very sympathetic about her medical problem.

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