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All That Manners Business [I'm Polish, moved to UK as an au pair.]


Wyspianska  
4 Oct 2008 /  #1
So I was called unpolite first time in my life. Let me explain shortly. I'm Polish, moved to UK as an au pair. I was about to go to California but because me and that English boy fell for each other I decided to come here instead. My boyfriend's mother literally hates me. She used to say I'm having a chip on my shoulders about being Polish, she thinks I expect everyone to treat me worse because of that and find it a serious issue while I never thought of that. Maybe she would rather want an English girl for her son and that's a problem? Opinions?

She also said I'm being unpolite because... I don't ask her how is she when I'm coming over. It's so pointless though, everyone does it here and everyone expects to be asked. Also, they all always answer 'fine, thanks' so no one really cares how ACTUALLY someone is haaa. She says I ignore her and don't talk to her while I offered her a hand in kitchen a couple of times and each time she said she doesn't need it. I hoped to have an opportunity for a chat but obviously she denied it!

When she gave us food, she never sat down and cared to eat with me on one table which every family does in Poland. Now that's unpolite to me! She just took her plate and went to watch tv... I felt like she actually did that because of me? Also, I can't get used to food here as time of having a dinner is so much different. I used to have a lot of snack-meals through the day back there in Poland but here I only get cereals for a breakfast, have a little lunch and then, much more later an ENORMOUS dinner. I'm serious, she gave me so much food she could feed an elephant with. I couldn't eat all of it, felt sick after 1/3 and in the end she said I just don't like her food... I'm hungy almost all the time because of that crazy English timing, my stomach hurts but she cares for nothing else than her food's being wasted.

The worse thing is something else though. My mother used to drink a lot back there in Poland and I had to be independent quite early. No one cared much about me going to England so I had to save all the money for a trip by myself. In the end had to pay a lot to au pair agency and buy tickets... I didn't ask anyone for help... Anyone. I felt so proud and happy. It didn't matter to me that I have had only 10 pounds with me the very first week here. I was glad I managed to do something which many people never would do on my place. Do you want to know what she has said about? She has said it's 'suspicious' that my parents gave me no money because 'everyone who goes abroad has a suport from family'. It hurts so much. I was crying night by night after I get know what she has said.

I am a truly kind person but not in a fake way. I know I'm not perfect but I'm also sure I've got some kind of appeal as everyone I meet on my way likes me sooner or later. Everyone apart from her.

I will appreciate your advices. Thanks.

xx

edit:
WB's right haa
Wroclaw Boy  
4 Oct 2008 /  #2
before I read this Wyspi may i emplore you to put in some paragraphs.
miranda  
4 Oct 2008 /  #3
you and your paragraphs. She is very unhappy and all you think about is paragraphs.

Wyspi, it doesn't sound like an open minded person and you are taking her too seriously. It doesn't seem that she will change, so the only thing you can do is accept her for who she is. It takes time to adjust to people form different cultures, so give yourself time and enjoy England as much as possible.
Daisy 3 | 1,227  
4 Oct 2008 /  #4
Wyspi, it sounds to me this woman wouldn't find any girl good enough for her son, not if she was royalty even.

What does Joe say about this, have you had a chance to talk to him and tell him how you feel?

Stay strong and be yourself...you do have a lot to be proud of, as you say you financed yourself to move over with ho ones help. Perhaps she's jealous, she sees in you a very strong and capable young woman, something she isn't. You are taking her son, she probably feels threatened.

The fact is wyspi, there are some people you can never please, so don't take it too personally.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
4 Oct 2008 /  #5
If you greet someone with "Alright?" you don't expect the answer "Actually I think of got a cold coming on and my foot still hurts a bit from when I fell over on the way home from the pub the other night, and I'm pretty low on cash at the moment so I'll probably have to turn my central heating off, but that's not so bad because it does aggravate my eczema sometimes and I suppose I ought to wear that jumper that my aunt gave me for my birthday even if it's a bit itchy and it's got a really sad pattern on it. I've always found ducks to be a bit creepy, especially on knitwear. Anyway, I'm having a bit of a bad hair day as well and I really wish I hadn't got out of bed this morning...

No. You have to just say "Alright!" regardless of what's going on.

By the way, Wyspi - I would say something about your boyfriend's mother, but I'm going to hold back from saying or even thinking unpleasant, unkind thoughts.

Imagine the calmness of a willow-lined duckpond in a village green with two swans gracefully crossing through the early morning haze of a late September morning as a Robin watches over from an old Elm stump singing its merry song. Or some sh!t like that.
OP Wyspianska  
4 Oct 2008 /  #6
thank you all for good words, cheered me up :)

Daisy: Joe tried to defend me, she didn't even say a word to me, she did to him as soon as I was away. When I was still around she was walking around with fake smile. Joe loves his mother which is pretty obvious and he never said a bad thing about her even after what she was saying about me... He only says he wishes the both women he loves liked each other but he doesn't see a big chance for it. What possibly could I do better, I don't know.
miranda  
4 Oct 2008 /  #7
What possibly could I do better, I don't know.

Nothing. She is and adult and you are much younger, yet I wonder who is more mature in that situation. You cannot make somebody like you. I think that it is more about Joe than about you. sound like she is possessive.
Daisy 3 | 1,227  
4 Oct 2008 /  #8
What possibly could I do better, I don't know.

You couldn't, you did your best and that's all that matters.

Of course Joe loves his mum, she's his mum after all, so it must be very difficult for him. Learn to put on a fake smile yourself, don't give her any ammunition to fire back at you. Say "how are you?" when you next see her, it's only words after all
Wroclaw Boy  
4 Oct 2008 /  #9
Youre taking away her pride and joy her son! Its natural that she doesnt like you and also your customs are different to ours, this will cause fractions (problems). Say her food is great and that youi love it.

Hang in there young one, if it helps my Polish wife and my Mum hate each other at the moment.
OP Wyspianska  
4 Oct 2008 /  #10
Well Daisy I could do that but next time I see her it will be so awkward situation and as soon I say 'how are you' I will feel like an actress. That's just pretending. I don't want to change myself for her, I even shouldn't. I'm going to stay myself, same myself who Joe fell in love with and it doesn't matter she likes it or not. As you said, these are only words and yes, I will say them. I don't quite trust it can change something. Thank you Miranda and WB. I guess I should print your answers and throw at her face so she would see :)
Bartolome 2 | 1,085  
4 Oct 2008 /  #11
Well Daisy I could do that but next time I see her it will be so awkward situation and as soon I say 'how are you' I will feel like an actress.

I feel rather strange when I'm greeted like 'Alright ?', even though I've been quite a long time here, but I caught myself several times greeting people like that :) It's not that horrible after all. It's just another form of Cześć.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
4 Oct 2008 /  #12
It's just another form of Cześć

Isn't it more like siema? You're not going to drone about all your aches and pains in Polish either after this word, surely.

I guess I should print your answers and throw at her face so she would see

Give yourself a little time to think about that idea.
Bartolome 2 | 1,085  
4 Oct 2008 /  #13
Isn't it more like siema? You're not going to drone about all your aches and pains in Polish either after this word, surely.

No. You can answer 'Siedem'.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
4 Oct 2008 /  #14
As in jeden dwa trzy cztery piec szesc siedem osiol...

Manners:

Please
Thankyou
Good afternoon
Fine thankyou
Yes please
Thankyou
Do you want me to kiss your arse even more?
Thankyou thankyou thankyou...
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
4 Oct 2008 /  #15
Oh-Oh. I'd get that 'unpolite girl' thing when i first arrived in UK and for the same reason - cos i didnt ask people how they were and said whateverrr a few times haha. So then i started asking it and it was fine. I started asking them every 5 minutes and i think they got the hint about just how pointless it was to me. I know it is stupid to us Poles becasue why ask how someone is if you totally don't wanna know, and funnily enough it is inappropriate to say you're actually not ok or start complaining about some aches and pains you were gettin recently. So my best advice is to get into that habit of saying 'how are you' and try to say it nicely, no attitude! I know what you're like ha ha... After a while when people get used to you you can stop doing it, they will ask you first sometimes so you just say fine thanks and move on. The English love their small talk.

As for the mommy, she's acting like she's jealous that her beloved boy has another woman in his life. She is well aware that you come from a different culture so she can't expect you to act like you were English, she's just being petty and she knows it. I know it p*sses you off but get her something like a box of chocolates and talk to her about how sad it makes you feel when she says bad things about you and how she refuses to sit down for a meal with you. Tell her you really care about having a good relationship with her. The English are not very direct people and they hardly ever say what they think and feel to your face, so if you approach her like that she will listen to you as if you were Jesus babe haha. That is all you can do, at least you will show her you're mature about the situation unlike she is, she should know better and come to terms with the fact that her son will find a woman and fall in love. Is she a single mom or are Joe's folks married and living together? Is he the only child? Cos that would explain many things... if you can't think of any subjects to discuss with her, just chat about the weather, or maybe watch a few episodes of coronation street or eastenders, they all watch it (i know it's rubbish! lol) and start a convo about that.

I know exactly how you feel, and i know this small talk is stupid but it makes them happy, if they moan about you not saying 'how are you' then they obviously have nothing else to pick on. You're awesome, keep it that way. Loooove xox
Robert A 1 | 102  
4 Oct 2008 /  #16
it is inappropriate to say you're actually not ok or start complaining about some aches and pains you were gettin recently.

Not true :) If someone asks me how I'm feeling, and I'm feeling like crap, I tell them I'm feeling crap!!

The English love their small talk.

Never liked small talk - it's banal

she's just being petty and she knows it

Absolutely right. However, I would add that she's rather insular too.

get her something like a box of chocolates

Don't buy her the chocolates - it will just feed (no pun intended) her obvious feeling of superiority over you, or give her the impression that you're trying to suck-up to her.

Just tell her how you feel about your relationship with her. She'll probably do one of 2 things: she'll respond to your concerns and explain how she feels . . . or . . . she'll just ignore you and carry on as before. If she does the latter, there's nothing you can say or do to change the situation - better that you can work around the situation. Generally, this means having as little contact with her as possible.

The English are not very direct people and they hardly ever say what they think and feel to your face

Not entirely true. I am very happy to say that I don't conform to that stereotype, nor do my friends & contemporaries. My girlfriend is Polish and is not afraid of saying what she feels to my face, be it good or bad, a trait I like very much - so refreshing :)

if you can't think of any subjects to discuss with her, just chat about the weather, or maybe watch a few episodes of coronation street or eastenders, they all watch it (i know it's rubbish! lol) and start a convo about that

Given the amount of airtime that coronation street & eastenders get during the day and evening this probably isn't the best of topics to discuss - she'll probably switch on the TV so she can catch up on the episodes she's missed!!! The weather is usually a safe bet ;)

Based on what you have written it would seem that you are in a no-win situation. Your boyfriend's mother has decided that she doesn't like you - I don't think she's jealous of your relationship with her son - some people are like that.

Instead, think of ways you can work around being in close proximity to her - out of sight is out of mind! Finally, if she refuses to accept you as you are that's her problem - enjoy your relationship with your boyfriend as best you can.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
4 Oct 2008 /  #17
Not true :) If someone asks me how I'm feeling, and I'm feeling like crap, I tell them I'm feeling crap!!

fair enough but that's not what they expect to hear. it's so easy to tell anyway when someone is genuinly concerned about how you are, or if it's just small talk. that's what differs us Poles from you guys, if we don't care - we don't ask.

Never liked small talk - it's banal

I am very happy to say that I don't conform to that stereotype, nor do my friends & contemporaries

it's not all about you, it's about people like this guys mom...

I think it's best to be honest and nice. If that doesnt help then tough, after all she doesnt go out with the mother or even live with her. give the mother some time, she might get used to it.
Robert A 1 | 102  
4 Oct 2008 /  #18
it's not all about you, it's about people like this guys mom

Thing is . . . one of my former girlfriend's mother was just like this one. In the end we just avoided each other like the plague. I tried to talk with her about this but in the end I just had to accept that she didn't like me. As I said, some people are like that.

I think it's best to be honest and nice

Agreed, but it seems this approach has already been tried. Those like this woman generally interpret such gestures as something contemptible. By all means give it some time, she my come around but I wouldn't hold my breath!
esek 2 | 228  
5 Oct 2008 /  #19
I will appreciate your advices. Thanks.

It's so simple... F-U-C-K her, and live your life :-)

cheers!

--
edit:

Wysp.. but what about your education? I hope you are studying there! You're too talented person to end up as an au pair... you deserve sth more!
mafketis 23 | 8,526  
5 Oct 2008 /  #20
She also said I'm being unpolite because... I don't ask her how is she when I'm coming over. It's so pointless though, everyone does it here and everyone expects to be asked. Also, they all always answer 'fine, thanks' so no one really cares how ACTUALLY someone is haaa.

Well in this case, intentionally or not, you _are_ being impolite. You know what the greeting rituals in Britain are and you're purposefully not adhering to them.

Not adhering to traditional standards of courtesy _is_ impolite, it's the very definition of 'impolite'.

Greeting rituals never make rational sense (saying 'dzien dobry' when it's awful weather?) you go through them to signal to other people that you know how to behave in polite company. When you disregard a culture's greeting practices because they don't measure up to your standards of logic or whatever, you're expressing disrespect for the culture (whether that's your intention or not).

Yes, it does sound like she's not a very nice person, but if _he_ matters to you then you need to make more effort than you've been making to establish a truce with her or your relationship will break up (if it comes down to a choice between the two of you, your chances are .... not good in the long term). Remember, older people find it harder to change the burden of adaptation in this case is on the young. Think of it as a kind of noblesse oblige.

My advice: apologize for not greeting her properly in the past and make sure it never happens again. And don't try to explain, an apology with an explanation isn't an apology. Just say you're sorry if your behavior made her feel bad and you'll try to do better.
Mister H 11 | 761  
5 Oct 2008 /  #21
Your boyfriend's mother is probably a little scared that your both about to upsticks and move to Poland and she won't see much of her son anymore.

Where is your boyfriend's dad in all this ?
OP Wyspianska  
5 Oct 2008 /  #22
get her something like a box of chocolates

I did bring really yummy chocolates from Poland (ptasie mleczko mmmm) and everytime I was visiting Joe, I could see these chocolates, staying there week by week... Mabe that's what polite in England lol I bet in the end it went to the bin. You know, maybe if I was English she would eat them but because it was from me, she wasn't about to try or something? I didn't even care too much but how dare she say a word that I'm not polite while she's doing something much worse :S Keep in mind she never cared to eat with us on one table, was staring at tv set when I was around... I never said a word even though I've had some not quite nice thoughts about her before to be honest. She also says I'm being quiet and don't talk with them while I just dont understand when English are talking fast to each other but yet no one cared to ask if I cope... She doesn't even speak any foreign language but it doesn't mean she can't imagine it's quite difficult to me... I can't also just say 'hey slow down' because they obviously talk with each other, not me... I can't start conversation even if I wanted to as she's sitting on the sofa wathing tv while me and Joe are 4 metres away. Does she seriously expect me to shout to her loudler than tv set?

Is she a single mom or are Joe's folks married and living together? Is he the only child? Cos that would explain many things...

Bingo lol. His parents are divorced, he's living with 2 other brothers though. One of them is engaged and his mother even seems to like that girl but then again, she's so different than me. She English, a bit barbie. A nice person, just doesn't seem to impress with personality if you know what I mean.

As for the mommy, she's acting like she's jealous that her beloved boy has another woman in his life. She is well aware that you come from a different culture so she can't expect you to act like you were English, she's just being petty and she knows it.

They actually expect me to act like I was English... Joe told me really harsch I should adapt as I'm not in Poland anymore :(

Where is your boyfriend's dad in all this ?

oh he doesn't live with them, to be honest I have met him only once and he wasn't even at their house. His mother used to say horrible thing about him, even to me. I find it quite disgusting to talk bad about somoene you spent your life with (they were together like 20 years ! ) and you have 3 sons with... No matter what he has done, she should NEVER say a bad word about him, especially to her sons (which she doesn't seem to care about) or to me (as in the end I'm just a random person to her).

You see, I wrote about it not because I want to take my anger out... I just started to wonder maybe it seriously is my fault. Maybe she has reasons to hate me, that's why I explained it as objective I could to get your opinions about it and see what you say.
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
5 Oct 2008 /  #23
Wyspi - you're doing fine... some of the comments from this woman are pretty short-sighted. Sounds like they have nothing to do with you being Polish or any cross-cultural issues. Maybe she is anxious that you are taking her little boy away from her.

What does Joe say to all of this?
OP Wyspianska  
5 Oct 2008 /  #24
What does Joe say to all of this?

he just told me I'm acting a victim, I showed a story the way I think it is like and that I'm being a 'bloody robot' who doesn't socialise, talk or understand his mother. I'm also inorant as I should have changed with the day I arrived. You know guys, it's not Poland anymore. Bye bye old Wyspi?
Daisy 3 | 1,227  
5 Oct 2008 /  #25
Wyspi, from what you say it's Joe's mother who doesn't have any manners, so she's not in a position to criticise you and accuse you.

If you brought me chocolates, I would open them and offer you first choice. Not joining you at the dinner table and eating in front of the TV is very bad manners. I agree about her running her ex husband down to her sons. She may well have good reason to dislike him, but she can't change the fact he's their father and you should never speak ill of a parent to their children, that's wrong.

I just started to wonder maybe it seriously is my fault

From what I can see, you're not the one at fault
esek 2 | 228  
5 Oct 2008 /  #26
It will sound like some tv slogan... but.. I don't care :D

My advice:

Just don't do anything against yourself... live your life, follow your own way, do whatever you want, be happy, gain professional and life experience and then use it. Use it to make your life better.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
5 Oct 2008 /  #27
They actually expect me to act like I was English... Joe told me really harsch I should adapt as I'm not in Poland anymore :(

wait a minute... didn't you say earlier on before you left Poland that he loved you for who you were and because you were so different than other girls he met? i can't believe you let him talk like this, you can't change the way you are just to please his mother, it's her problem and if Joe was a mature guy he'd sit down with that rude woman and talk to her instead of telling YOU that you are acting like a victim and you should adapt. why should YOU get out of your way to please them if they do f*ck all to please you? you're not like them and you never will be. pretending you are like them will make you unhappy, we don't want that to happen. ask yourself, do you really want a mommy's boy like that? do you think he will EVER stand by your side and choose your word over his mother's? it's mental and him being in the army is even worse cos he still won't be able to think for himself and will always look up to his supervisor and his mother. i have a soldier boy and i know just how difficult it is for him to make his own decisions. i know you love that guy but you gotta love yourself too and think about your own good. his mom must've been very hurt in the past by Joe's dad and that's why she's bad mouthing him and being so protective of Joe, cos she's worried you're only with him for the money and you will break his heart. i don't know how you can convince her you're not like that, maybe stop visiting their house so often as you're obviously not feeling comfortable there. if Joe complains about it, tell him you're obviously not welcomed there and if he wants you to visit him he should speak to his mother. if he refuses to do that and blame it all on you again... he's a mommy's boy and you should seriously think if you really wanna be with a guy like that. he's supposed to be your rock, you came all this way for him. it makes my blood boil to see you struggle so much, it's totally not your fault, it's those awful people's fault. hit me up on facebook if you wanna chat!
polishgirltx  
5 Oct 2008 /  #28
i'd be easier for you wyspi to deal with the situation if joe shows more understanding what you are going through - new country, different culture, strange people etc- it's hard to adapt to the situation that fast... you need more support from him, not harsh words... not every mother likes her sons' gf, no matter how hard the girls trie to be liked and joe's mom seems like one who doesn't give a chance and make it harder for everybody...

i think you should talk with joe, he should be more supportive and more on your side (it doesn't mean he should be against his mom)...
noimmigration  
5 Oct 2008 /  #29
I'm hungy almost all the time because of that crazy English timing, my stomach hurts but she cares for nothing else than her food's being wasted.

Something tells me you sound like a bit of a porker ?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Oct 2008 /  #30
Nah, she's quite a well-proportioned lass actually.

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