As we all know, one of the ways that John undermined Elly in the Early Years was to feign acceptance and then whisper something contradictory to Michael and his siblings behind her back. The lovely result of that was to ensure that they grew to think of their mother as a bullying fool who did not really deserve respect. It's a classic tactic that disguised his own desire to assert his dominance; there he was being Mister King Train Man, Master of All He Surveyed while at the same time making everyone think that his stooge was mad with power. His making his longest-serving victim into a bogeywoman had a certain repellent style to it. It's too bad that Lynn isn't into establishing character motivations anymore. Now, when John does crap like that, it's because he's stupid and wants to get in his super-efficient wife's way. If he'd just shut up and read his paper and hire homely women, Elly would have no complaints about him at all. All she'd have to worry about is children who can't see what marvelous fun it is to sit quietly and stare into space until their brains shut down and their rumps are numb.