Mr know it all

Why waste these few precious years trying to be dragon mom extraordinaire?

May 29, 2011

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

I’ve been working at a reputable organisation for quite some time. My former boss was very confident in my abilities and so is my new head. But of late I feel he’s been putting me down, especially after the company head said that I did an excellent job in his absence and was ready to move up in the organisation. On the surface, there are no conflicts and I have a good relationship with my supervisor. However, I get no motivation, feedback or appreciation for my work. Additionally, I feel he is putting me down in front of new people who have just joined. Help!

Motivation needed

A. I don’t really know much about dealing with jealous bosses because, well, let’s face it: I’m an excellent people’s person and my knack for dealing with sticky situations and difficult people is first-rate. In fact, if truth be told, I’ve never really given any of my former bosses a chance to harbour negative feelings towards me, much less act on them because I’m always unnaturally quick in turning the tables on them. Yup, the poor chaps have to start pretending to like me — their new boss — before fully coming to terms with what hit ‘em! So, for the sake of your career, reputation and sanity, it is imperative you adopt the same strategy. I’m not going to divulge my exact secret of boss-manipulation for obvious reasons, but I am going to tell you this: Instead of whining and feeling all victimy, start playing him at his own game. Every time he denounces you, you be extra nice to him; let him take full credit for a few odd jobs here and there; vocalise your immense appreciation for his extraordinary boss-man capabilities; stroke his ego… y’know, suck up like you’ve never sucked up before. Essentially, make yourself a friend — or better yet, an irreplaceable go-to subordinate friend from planet
Idon’tneedyoursorrymotivationtobesoexquisitelygoodatmyjob who isn’t the least bit needy and can function well without a regular dosage of feedback and appreciation. There’s really no reason for you to get your hands dirty with petty politics on your way up the corporate ladder, you know, especially since we all know you’ll be replacing him soon anyway. Even the company head said so!

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

I am a working mother of two, and my five-year-old son is addicted to video games. Now I’ve restricted his gaming to the weekends, but I find that when I get back from work he is sitting there looking guilty because he pressures his grandmother into letting him play games when I’m not around. When I ask him if he has been playing games he openly lies to me and says he isn’t. Now I don’t want my son to grow up thinking it’s okay to lie to me because it’s not like I would have punished him or anything. How do I talk to my mother-in-law without seeming like a tyrannical control freak?


A. Look, chances are your kid won’t be listening to anything you say or ask him to do in a few years’ time anyway — without feeling the need to lie about it. So why waste these few precious years trying to be dragon mom extraordinaire? I say, savour the innocence and let the little champ play video games... because before you know it, he’ll have other, much more destructive interests (involving girls, fast cars, girls, wild parties, girls and even more girls!) that you’ll be needing all your strength to worry and play the bad cop over. Besides, you’re rearing him in Pakistan… so unless you want him to eat himself to obesity, let him find his entertainment in these gory video games. They’re by far a healthier option, believe me.

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

I’ve been told the best way to get to a man’s heart is through his stomach — but what’s the best way to get to a man’s mother’s heart? I’ve been seeing my beau for two years and the relationship is serious, but his dear old mamma hasn’t quite warmed up to me. Every time I drop by for tea she says my man is ‘too tired’ to see me after a long day at work (he really isn’t). And when we go out together, she gets clingy. My boyfriend tells me to humour her, but I’d really like to get into her good books. How do I convince her I’m not the enemy?

Daughter-in-law to be

A. Dammit, woman, are you for real!? Why do you want to ruin your textbook saas-bahu relationship by trying to nuzzle your way into your mother-in-law’s good books? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you just how many women I know who’d give their first born to have one of those saucy, raucous, nostril-flaring relationships with their boring old MILs! Just imagine the intense family drama and how exciting things would always be in your house if you let her be. She could go on playing the brainwashed saas who see you as nothing but a stereotypical good-for-nothing daughter-in-law whose only one agenda in life is to turn her clueless son against her; you could be the conniving bahu who everyone will eventually find out isn’t such a bad person after all…

Ah, I can practically smell the rave reviews already!

However, back in the real world, you need to cut the poor woman some slack and understand that mothers share a special bond with their boys… and watching them shower the love and affection that was all theirs before you pretty womenfolk come along demanding your share is quite an emotional experience for them. And why wouldn’t it be? All your MIL probably needs is a little reassuring and involvement in the shiny happy new life you and her son are building together. Give her that and I assure you she’ll warm up... unless of course she really is a Nazi-type, in which case… may God be with you!

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 29th, 2011.


Qamar Khan | 11 years ago | Reply
understand that mothers share a special bond with their boys… and watching them shower the love and affection that was all theirs before you pretty womenfolk come along demanding your share is quite an emotional experience for them.
Bingo! Every D.I.L should read this and try to understand the emotion behind the weird M.I.L attitude and tantrums. The more the bahus try to win rihts over the guy, the more aggressive and aprehensive saases are likely get! It's not rocket science...I wonder why women have such a hard time understanding this!?
Sanam | 11 years ago | Reply I can totally relate to the second answer. My kids give me a hard time when I get back from work too but you're absolutely right...I should savour these years instead of trying to constantly discipline them...esp. about things I know they won't listen to me anyway... Anything is better than being lied to by your babies!!!
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