What usually happens probably goes something like this:
- Stage 1: Elly leaves for vacation and places her children in the care of a relative.
- Stage 2: Said relative not only imposes her version of order on the children, she bonds with them.
- Stage 3: Elly returns to find the house run in a more efficient manner than she left it.
- Stage 4: Elly whines that she's been replaced by a new figure.
- Stage 5: The putative replacement rolls her eyes in irritation because the adult child she's sitting for is engaging in cheap theatrics.
- Stage 6: The sitter leaves and Elly deprograms her children so that she can feel needed.
This last is important because it explains a lot about Elly; we have to remember that she needs to feel as if she's making a difference because she doesn't realize that she is fairly important despite not having a visible impact. If her suffering is epic, she can at least console herself that she somehow matters. What she never does realize is that her need to take John's mean-spirited japes about how little effect she has to heart is what's really the problem. Why it is that she needs to be belittled is sort of interesting and will be the subject of my next entry.