The second part of why Deanna and Elly are harried mothers who have no help and no time to themselves is that they willingly married idiot momma's boys who think that at best, a girl can hope maybe to have an intelligence quotient in the low to mid eighties and the bizarre and irrational impulse that she has to assume that she can decide things on her very own should be indulged in the same manner that a belief in the Easter Bunny is. The reason that John and Michael continue to think along these lines is that, well, the only way that their wives can get through to them is to weep piteously about how hard their lives are.
Hmmmm. Given that the real reason that Mira is an evil, domineering monster is her inconvenient and evil habit of telling Deanna the horrible lie that Mike is a clingy oaf who doesn't respect her and thinks of her as his mommy, I should think that the reason why we never saw any of Elly's friends from Vancouver is that they said the same damned thing about that asshole John. What this tells me is that just as she told Deanna to rush back to work because Meredith would sense her resentment, Elly's sage advice for the stress of dealing with an asshole husband who doesn't appreciate her is to quit her job, open up a sewing school and make herself totally dependent on a callous shithead for her survival while at the same time devoting all her time to servicing the entitled goober. The reason for this is that Lynn would still need to nag Rod about his refusal to play ball. More on that tomorrow.
Deanna, on the other hand, had a much more difficult time dealing with Mike owing to the fact that he acts like a character from a sixties sitcom preaching Strict-But-Fair Parenting By Bad Example. If the Pattersons' world were a television program, Deanna herself would be the kid protagonist learning that the "free" kid whose ability to come and go as he pleases and do pretty much ever he wants craves the structure lovingly imposed on him from Sainted Mira and Wilf; instead, his father is more a growth oozing out of a chair and his mother a negligent idiot Who Should Probably Not Have Had Kids. It's quite obvious that Michael cannot cope on his own and needs to be dependent on a kindly adult to save him from himself. Deanna's job is to make sure that that adult is Elly.
Good thing for Elly that all Deanna can do is rebel against her mother; that way, she can have Mike to be her BABY forever and always while allowing Phil to be one of the kindly adults who parents her children for her.
- "I am not an especially generous or forgiving person."
- "I really don't like looking at things from other people's perspective because I believe that only my point of view matters."
- "While I pay lip service to gender equality, I really wish to be dominated by a brutish thug."
- "The reason that I hate my parents is that despite their occasional fights, they actually respect one another; since I idolize John because he's incapable of respect and admire Elly for being the broken-down wretch I wish to be, I can't admit that my parents are better people than the Pattersons."
- "I think that my children are merely extensions of my will and the odd and unfair need they seem to have for stimulation and attention is an evil thing meant to complicate my life."
- "I don't want to understand how incredibly damaged and unhappy Michael is because that would mean that the Pattersons are the sort of terrible people my parents say they are."
- "I think that my made-up suffering entitles me to boss people around."
I think that it’s safe to say that Deanna is much like Elly in that she wants to not have to admit that children do not have the same level of impulse control or understanding of the world as she does. Most of the time, she stands there horrified, disappointed and angered by the fact that Meredith and Robin do not understand that she doesn’t want to deal with them until she’s had a chance to unwind from work. The reason, of course, is quite simple. If she has to admit to herself that children need attention and will move around even when it’s not convenient for her, that would mean that her mother is right to tell her that she cannot and should not expect them to sit quietly staring off into space like the mindless dummies she wishes they were. This differentiates her from Elly who seems incapable of understanding why they want her attention in the first place. In Elly’s case, she is simply unable to see what they could possibly want from her; all she does know is that she doesn’t have it to spare and even if she did, that would mean that she’d be nothing more than a worthless housewife mindlessly tending children and baking cookies when she knows that she can be more. Deanna, on the other hand, doesn’t want to admit that the mother she blames everything bad in her life on because she talked back to HER DADDY!!!!! could be right about anything so anyone who suggests that she might be is a bad person.
- Deanna: As you know, I've spent a lot of time talking about how I think that Deanna is a shallow little ditz making a lot of noise about how her evil, uncool, obsolete, pushy mother who wouldn't give HER DADDY!!! the slavish respect that Daddy's Little DeeDoormat believed he had coming to him was and is way out of line for trying to set limits on her behavior, worrying about her and wanting to keep her from making ridiculous, self-destructive decisions like marrying a pasty-faced wannabe who churns out abuse porn for Lifetime. Lynn wants us to see a smart young woman who knows what she wants trying to keep from being enmeshed in her monster mommy's family politics. The reality is that we have a member of Robert Ringer's Diaper Corps ranting because her parent is parenting.
- Anthony: As we know, Nostache's Liography was supposed to make him a figure of sympathy by painting his father as the sort of anachronistic Victorian-era heavy father that, for some incomprehensible reason, populates the Foobiverse. The problem is that it didn't work out that way because they'd depicted Gavin's need to not be reminded of the painful collapse of his first marriage in the same light as his asking Anthony to actually pay some of the money for his first car. Worse still was his assuming that Anthony would naturally want to go into the family business and make a name for himself instead of following his own path. Oh, my. A father wanting to guarantee a better future for his son instead of letting him waste his life as a bookkeeper for a grease monkey. The vile brute needs a boot to the head.
- Weed: The same need to vilify parents for wanting their children to become part of a family business informs the background of Jo Weeder. What we get in his Liography is an incoherent exhortation to lambaste Weeder Senior for wanting his entitled, naive, bonehead son to quit spouting psychobabble and buckle down like an adult. Also, his inability to believe that something that doesn't actually pay off will is also held as a sign of his being pure evil.
It's not hard to see that either Lynn or Beth have issues with the idea of living the life parents would have liked them to. What look to us like people who want the best for sullen idiots who insist on doing whatever they want in the hope that some miracle will occur and thus free them from having to put in hours that they don't have the stamina for look to them like evil, bonehead dorks who've let EEEEEEEEvil ambition blind them to faith and fate.
- Elly: Elly thinks of herself as a clear-headed, responsible, intelligent, hard-working and long-suffering tower of strength; everyone outside the charmed circle of Pattersainthood thinks of her as being a peevish, nitwitted, flighty, lazy doughhead squealing about nothing.
- Mike: He thinks of himself as being a wonderful guy who's loaded with talent and, since he deals with the irrationally jealous with aplomb, loaded with the patience of a saint; the casual observer sees him as the whiny, vindictive, sullen, thin-skinned and cowardly brat he is.
- Liz: It's difficult to listen to the passive drip bloviate about how she's large and in charge without either laughing derisively or weeping in despair. The only time she makes anything like a decision is when she has no choice.
- John: Given that his definition of decisiveness means making snap judgments that he can't admit are wrong and how most of what frightens him does so because it forces him to face the scary prospect that what he believes to be common knowledge isn't and since he reacts to anything that threatens his fragile self-concept with panicky rage, it should come as no real shock that he's regarded as a self-serving, crotchety old fossil loaded with fatuous bullcrap.
What they think of one another is somewhat more complex and will be covered later; suffice to say for now, the picture that they have of one another is as off-base as their self-concept.
That being said, I'd like to remind you that I think that the only sort of person that could live in that house for any great length of time is someone with an equally distorted self-concept: this is why Deanna is such a great fit. When she convinced the Pattersons that shaking her mother down based on a false pretense was a good and necessary thing, I started to wonder where her honesty and decency were located. When she insisted on defending every stupid move her vain, whiny, lazy idiot husband made no matter how much it made her life suck, I wondered where her alleged self-respect was parked. When she stood there making complaint after complaint about Mike only to get into a big crying jag about something trivial, I questioned the maturity she so lovingly awarded herself. When she got into a blind panic because Mira might have actually resolved her problems with the Kelpfroths, it got me to wondering where the courage she boasts about was. Finally, when I realized that her idea of responsible parenting consisted of telling her children what they couldn't do (i.e. move around and speak), I wondered where her supposed caring was. I have no doubt in my mind that Dee looks in the mirror and sees a wonderful person; I also don't doubt that most of the people in Milborough regard her as a delusional piece of white trash who needs to have a visit from CPS. I also know that the idiots regard her almost as highly as they do the ineffable Mister Caine.
I think it's safe to say that the Deanna of the Early and Middle years was far less tolerant of Mike's antics and didn't sabotage herself to enable his self-absorbed, destructive stupidity. What she was was a rather average little girl with a soft-palate lisp who reacted to Mike's typical little boy behavior in the manner one would expect a typical little girl to. This differs from her motivation in the New-Ruins; from what I can piece together, she seems outraged that he stayed home on doctor's orders on the day of her going-away party and seems to have vowed revenge. Turning her into a little sociopath who believes that he hates her and must be punished because his mother kept him from infecting her and the other students is as wrong-headed as turning him into the Littlest Stalker With a Crush. I liked it better when he didn't actually know what he thought of her half the time and put more weight in not getting razzed by the guys for getting all lovey-dovey than he did trying to figure out what was going on inside her head. The example that comes most readily to mind was the Halloween dance of 1985. To begin with, Deanna was not speaking to him because he had made crude remarks about her appearance because it was more or less expected of him by his pals; try as he might to explain the fact of life that if he was visibly nice to any girl, the guys would never let him hear the end of it, she simply didn't want to hear it. What she did do was stride off with her nose in the air because she confused a hostile refusal to listen to reason with firmness of character. When the dance itself occurred, they tied for best costume and she didn't want to dance with him at first but did anyway; heck, she even kissed the little sap. After that, of course, she sort of vanished from the strip, seemingly never to return. Had they not met the way they did back in the middle 1990s, her place in the novel of Mike's life would have simply been a bit of color that reminds us that our hero's origins were normal as could be. If she hadn't had the car accident, she'd vaguely remember the dentist's goofball son, the boring stunts he pulled and wonder if he ever outgrew being a tool. She did, however, have the car accident and her behavior ever since has not been in her best interests; as I've said before, I'm convinced that she's either suffering from PTSD or mild brain damage. A woman in the possession of her faculties would not, for instance, have told Mike he should have waited until she managed to break her engagement before making any big plans. We can also ascribe her belief that she should make her overbearing-but-essentially-well-meaning mother think that she's willing to live together without benefit of marriage when nothing could be further from the truth to her missing key brain cells. We can even peg her opening the sewing school to her marbles still being in a ditch next to the 401.
The only reassuring part of the arc in which Deanna's return is explained to us is the sure knowledge that Mike will be a stumbling fool who makes one stupid, humiliating mistake after the next which lead to Deanna treating him like something she scraped off the soles of her shoes. Although it's not normal for six-year olds to act like this, it is normal for a boy with a crush to embarrass himself at every turn in this sort of story line. Too bad for Lynn that it doesn't distract us from the stupid and amazingly implausible reason she gave for the Sobinski's return. While it is true that sometimes one cannot unload one's old house, that isn't going to present a real stumbling block to a transfer; after all, they could easily have rented the place out. Even if the transfer itself fell through and they were forced to return to Milborough, Wilf couldn't simply get his old job back as it had been filled in his absence. Since Lynn has no idea how things work in the real world, it should have been obvious that their return would be inexplicable to those of us who live here. We can look forward to the story sinking to new depths of irrationality and lunacy as the weeks go on.
I was going to remind myself of why it is that Mike and Liz were, to put it kindly, indifferent students today but something happened to delay that: Deanna returned and it wasn't simply hand-waved away. We had every right to expect that just as Lynn back-pedalled on the size of Annie's family and whether Mike was attending prescool, she'd simply plop Dee on the landscape without explanation. If people were to point this out, her fans would exhort them to not think about what they read and enjoy their bullcrap sandwich. The fact that Lynn has decided to call attention to her return tells me that she's decided to fill the gap she punched in the timeline by introducing Farley prematurely by having all the characters whine about how Evil Mira wanted to evilly ruin everyone's happiness with her evil ambitions; the Twoo Wuv that Mike and Dee share was only saved because Wilf managed to save his family from his evil wife's evilly wanting to win all the time and provide them with social, cultural and monetary advantages that were not being provided by being Touched By Pattersons. Unless they build their cities with the blessings of the Foobs, they buildeth in vain.
1) She does not understand children at all well and greets conventional inconveniences with a look of primal horror.
2) She feels herself to be harshly judged by people who don't actually care about her one way or another.
3) She will do anything to not lay down the law and be like her evil, domineering mother.
The thing all these have in common is Deanna's dread of confronting people. She'll endure any horror as long as she doesn't have to risk alienating people by sticking to her guns.
This leads directly to the fourth form of failure: instead of dealing with a crying child and thus have the (indifferent) community-at-large