As we are about to see, Elly feels insecure when confronted with the fact that there’s a new role model in Michael’s life; she, in fact, pathetically bleats that since his teacher is more competent than she is, she’s been demoted to a lesser player. For once, she seems to have a good reason to be anxious; that’s because in every battle with an authority figure, she always comes out the loser as the following examples will attest:
- Item: She sends a visibly-ill Michael to school after telling him to quit faking being sick; when he’s sent home, she thought-bubbles that they never actually come out and call her negligent. She seems to have not realized that they don’t have to as the facts speak for themselves.
- Item: Her pathetic, flustered, disorganized performance in traffic court attempting to defend herself against a charge of negligent driving. Not only does she depict the other driver, who’s so clean you could eat off of him, as a character from the Mad Max movies, the judge throws most of her testimony out owing to her refusal to stick to the boring old facts. After what seems like an eternity, he declares that no one was to blame and dismisses the charges; the subtext is that he did so to get the moronic, pig-ignorant housewife out of his sight.
- Item: Her attempt to organize a campaign to save a theatre from demolition (said building being demolished so that Milborough can have a sports arena that everyone else but her wants) runs into the brick wall of her inability to work the system and her family’s tendency towards
knowing what they’re talking aboutapathy. It eventually falls to another person to lead the fight which relieves John, who doesn’t want Elly racing around making an idiot of herself about an issue she doesn't understandto have a voice of her own and Mike, who’s upset that he’s being harrassed at school because his mother is trying to stop the city from building the arena and they blame him for ithis mother believes in things.
- Item: She and the other Pattersons are constantly frustrated because the police seem to them to be a smug obstruction to doing what’s “right”; by insisting on their boring, time-wasting rules and procedures instead of letting the Foobs visit mayhem on those they dislike, the Police are clearly extra-bad people whose dictates must be endured.
This tendency she has of making an idiot of herself when dealing with public officials is, of course, genetic; Mike stupidly joined a protest against a necessary fare increase that had massive public support because he, like his mother before him, was too stubborn to pay attention to his surroundings.