There is this thing that my mother-in-law does that drives me up the freakin’ wall. Although we supposedly live in separate quarters and lead separate lives, whenever I have guests, she hustles over here with a tray of refreshments. I know she’s just trying to maintain a certain standard of Japanese hospitality, but this bothers me for several reasons. One, is that I would like to offer hospitality to my guests in my own way. For example, as an American entertaining foreginers, I think it’s more polite to ask my guests if they’d like something to drink, and then offer a selection. In my experience, my foregin friends answer honestly. When my parents are visiting, they are always getting irritated when unwanted drinks and snacks are foisted upon them.
Also, my mother-in-law’s entrance always turns everything all formal. Everyone must start bowing and being gracious and speaking Japanese. I would like for my house to be a place where my foreign friends can relax. I would like to be able to relax.
Last night, Jio’s friend’s mother dropped by to pick up Jio for soccer. The deal is that I will watch her daughter while the boys are off playing sports. My friend and her kids and her male guest from Australia all came in for a moment while Jio changed his clothes. And then my mother-in-law appeared with her tray. I know she’s just trying to be nice, but I felt so irritate with her.
We had a little chat today and I tried to explain all of the above, but I’m not sure how much I got through to her. She told me a story to demonstrate the importance of ningen kankei (human relations). She seems to have gotten the idea that Americans are all businesslike in their dealings with each other, but that’s not what I meant to say. Also, she pointed out that there was a male guest and he must be given special treatment.