There’s nothing stronger or maybe more annoying than family. Whether its blood or extended relatives, family just has this way of either forming incredibly strong bonds or simply pushing us to the brink of pulling our hair out. Heck, we all have that grouchy grandparent or great aunt that seems to ruin Thanksgiving with their selfish antics and rude comments, but family is family, right? You’re supposed to love them no matter what...or at least that’s how the saying goes.
Well, what are you supposed to do if your grandma is a literal Karen with a weaponized narcissism problem and a dash of entitlement? We don’t recommend you go out and find a Karen to get results so instead, we will just tell you the crazy story of Linda and Larry, an all-American couple raising their kid Oliver with the help of Linda’s smothering grandmother, Doris.
Now Doris is an old-fashioned lady who means well. Growing up, Linda and Doris were very close. Linda spent 80% of her childhood with dear Doris and even thought of her as a bit of a mother figure. Doris, being the sweet old grandmother she is, did her best to spoil Linda, but Linda’s father wasn’t going to let that fly.
It all worked out in the end because Linda is now a level-headed parent who has the right idea about raising her toddler, Oliver. That means no coddling, no smothering, no spoiling. Or at least, that’s what Linda thought until ole Doris got her hands on Oliver during a fateful vacation one year that would change the family forever.
It’s a fight between family, mothers, and egos, as Linda teaches Doris a lesson on boundaries, child-rearing, and not getting what she wants. We won’t give everything away but this story is one of family, standing up for yourself, and of course, a healthy supply of fists and hair-pulling.
“This story takes place in February about three years ago, back when Oliver was three years old,” Linda explained. Linda, Larry, and Oliver were on vacation in the most Karen state in the U.S. (Florida) to visit their most Karen of relatives (Doris). The plan was simple enough. The family was to stay with Doris for five days, then visit Larry’s family for another five a city over, then return back to Doris’ for one last night before flying out.
So six days with Doris. How hard could it be? Well, unbeknownst to Linda this vacation would be anything but relaxing. But for now, fresh off the plane, things were going smoothly enough.
“So we get to Karen's place and everything is fine. We're happy to see everyone despite the heat and our distaste for Florida, and we're having a good time,” Linda admits.
“Now it's important to mention, my husband and I are both pretty strict with our parenting style: we expect our kid to be polite, use an indoor voice, and listen to instruction. Obviously, the occasional meltdown happens but it's nothing we can't handle.”
But Linda also admits that tantrums are a lot more common when Doris is around. In short, Doris is the parental antithesis of Linda and Larry. While Linda and her husband are firm and assertive with Oliver, Doris is an absolute pushover. Now, this wouldn’t be too bad if Doris didn’t actively fight and judge Linda every step of the way when it came to parenting. Not only is it rude but it's downright sabotage!
Pretty much if three-year-old Oliver whines “Jump!” Doris is there to ask “How high?” with hugs and kisses ready to go. For example, when Linda caught Doris giving Oliver candy right before dinner she snapped back at her, saying “Oh it’s only a lollipop! It won’t kill him!”
And the list goes on and on…
Each and every time Linda tries to correct her child, Doris is right there undermining her parenting. This includes buying Oliver's toys in every store they visit. When Linda tells Doris to stop she calls them “mean parents” and complains, “I didn't raise you to treat your kid like this!”
“We even tell Doris she can't let Oliver have temper tantrums without some kind of discipline (usually just a time-out) or she’ll scream ‘He's just a little boy! You need to hug him!’”
Doris wants to absolutely spoil this kid. As a peace offering, Linda and Larry let Oliver sleep with Doris in her bed. It’s an uphill battle with Doris but hey it's only a six-day vacation so Linda tries to lighten up a bit.
Well, as it turned out, fighting an uphill battle gets pretty tiresome after a few days! Things went from annoying to bad to even worse, when the group visited a large strip mall. Willing to give Doris a chance to be the doting grandma, Linda allowed her to buy Oliver some toys. It’s been a long day and everyone was getting hungry. Larry volunteered to run their new purchases to the car while Linda and Doris went to find a table.
Like clockwork, the moment Larry left, sneaky little Oliver decided to launch a temper tantrum for the ages replete with whining, arms flinging, and tears. The reason? A little knick-knack toy Larry said he couldn’t have. Linda, not one to play games, didn't budge and refused to buy Oliver the toy, but Doris obviously has different plans.
“Doris is immediately negotiating with our tiny terrorist, so I shut it down. We do not reward bad behavior,” said Linda. “Of course, that hag gets upset with me, complaining that ‘It's just a dollar! Why are you so mean? Why don't you let me buy him anything?’”
At this point, Doris was whining just as much as three-year-old Oliver! You can almost see a pattern here!
By the time Larry got back from the car he recognized the trouble from a mile away. Determined, the man didn't even break his stride. He simply scooped up the kid and whisked him off to the restroom to calm him down and separate the boy from the problem (Doris). While Larry was off dealing with Oliver, Linda had to placate the whining adult child that was Doris who was now calling the couple a bunch of “child abusers” who don’t love their kid.
Linda rolled her eyes as she watched Doris just let it rip in public. She took one deep breath ready to shout when suddenly Larry and Oliver reappeared both with smiles on their faces. No yelling or swats were had, just a simple private talk and now the little boy had his arms wrapped lovingly around his dad’s neck. It's a wonder what responsible parenting can do!
Crisis averted for now! The family enjoyed their lunch without a hitch then returned back to Doris’ place. The rest of their stint with Doris that week was smooth sailing as they prepared to stay with Larry’s family.
Linda and Larry left for his family’s place when Linda was treated by a phone call from Richard, (Doris’ husband) regarding their “abusive” parenting. Linda took a big, deep, heavy sigh. It hadn't even been one full day and Doris was already conspiring and talking trash behind their backs!
Richard proceeded to really rip Linda a new one and shouted at her over the phone as Larry looked over concernedly from behind the steering wheel. Linda listened to the complaints with a grain of salt but then turned livid at what she heard next. Richard said that Doris told him that big bad Larry had lurched poor Oliver by the arm and left bruises on him!
Sounds like Doris has been embellishing a few details, huh? Apparently Larry yelled at his child in public beat him black and blue. Linda’s jaw dropped at the lies. Okay, it's one thing to talk behind someone’s back but its something else to openly lie about child abuse like that! What the heck is Doris thinking? That’s truly some seriously messed-up behavior.
After some careful assuaging, Linda talked her grandfather down and smoothened things out. This wasn’t a misunderstanding after all but 100% lies! How could a family doubt and completely fib about your parenting like that? Outrageous.
Linda sunk down in her seat. Well, at least Larry’s family wasn’t nearly as dramatic and entitled. The family proceeded to have a leisurely five days with Larry’s folks, but in her head, Linda was counting down the days before she would have to see that dreaded, lying Doris again.
The day of reckoning is finally here. With the final leg of the vacation underway, Linda and Larry must brave one more night with Doris before they can finally kiss Florida and her crazy antics goodbye. Doris and Randy met the family at the rental car place so they can pick them up and take them back to the house.
Beforehand Linda texted Doris to hopefully clear the air a bit and set the tone. She also told Doris that she would rather have Oliver sleep with them for the night they are over. This went about as terribly as you could imagine.
Well, Linda is Oliver’s mother, right? So, that means she can decide these kinds of things? Well, according to Doris that was a negative. Linda said it best when she described Dors’ tirade as, “Two hours of ‘Why don't you love me anymore? I thought we had a special bond! Why are you doing this to me? Why are you trying to hurt me? That terrible husband of yours told you to do this to me!’ only increased how angry I was. I turned my phone off and prepared for our arrival at 7:00 pm...”
Looks like Doris was one of those entitled Karens who can’t take no for an answer. Well too bad for her, but Linda is the one raising Oliver, not she. As the clock ticked by, Linda prepared herself mentally for a pointless showdown with the mother figure she once looked up to so much. This was surely going to hurt but it had to be done. As a mother, Linda had to put her foot down once and for all.
Now Doris may be an elderly lady but she isn’t afraid to get in someone’s face. Linda definitely learned this the hard way when they met her and Richard at the car rental place. And if those phone calls weren’t an indication of how entitled she was, things were about to go from bad to worse.
“It was more horrible than I expected,” Linda admitted, “That woman cornered me when we got there by leaning over the front seat of the rental car while I was installing Oliver’s car seat, berating me with the same questions she texted like a crazy person.”
Linda, being a parent herself, tried to take the adult child that is Doris as sweetly and calmly as she could. She tried to explain how on the last night of her family she simply wanted to cuddle with her little boy, but of course, the disastrous Doris was not having it.
It was probably at this moment that Linda noticed the absolute irony of the situation. Now as an adult, the roles between her and Doris have completely switched. Linda felt like she was comforting her 3-year-old son, except this was the woman that she looked up to all those years. Unfortunately, Doris didn’t reciprocate Linda’s patience and kindness.
“She continued to berate and pester me until I finally told her that my dad told me the lies she tried to spread and I was fed up. She looked me in the eye and said ‘I told everyone. I want them to take that kid away from you,’” Linda retells.
Linda’s eyes widened then filled with fire. It was at that moment that she realized how completely delusional and selfish Doris had become. How on earth could one mother suggest taking away another mother’s child like this? It was sheer maliciousness and entitlement. Linda was simply shocked and flabbergasted at the lengths this crazy woman was going.
Linda had seen enough. It was now her time to take matters into her own hands.
“LARRY!” Linda shouted. “Get our bags! We’re getting the heck out of here! Our baby is not staying here tonight.”
Larry, being a supportive husband happily obliged while Linda busily gathered their things, stowed Oliver’s car seat, and pulled her child onto her hip. It may sound crazy, but Doris was actually surprised that Linda did not want to stay with her after threatening to steal her child. Hmm...who could’ve guessed that one?
As one can imagine, your typical erratic display of Karen-like behavior unfolded. Much like Oliver throwing a temper tantrum, Doris proceeded to whine and scream until her voice cracked. But all the hot air did little to change Linda’s mind.
“She got out and started shouting, screaming until her voice cracked, that I should show respect to my elders and that it's Larry's fault this all happened and he's tearing our family apart. This was some next-level, crazy person screaming. This was a full-on verbal assault against my husband. I told her off and tried to walk away, but she kept blocking my path.”
It was in fact, textbook crazy narcissistic person behavior! And a word of advice, do not get in a mama’s way! Linda pressed on and pushed Doris aside because she was done dealing with this insane woman. Unfortunately, that was all it took for Doris to completely lose it and take things one step too far.
Like a cornered animal, leave it up to a crazy Karen with nothing left to lose to completely escalate the situation. There is a very fine line between disagreement and endangerment, but little old Doris decided to just crank it up to assault for the heck of it.
As Linda was walking away with her child she felt something yank her from behind. “Oh for Christ's sake,” she thought as her eyes widened, “This cannot be happening.”
Crazy Doris reached with her claws and grabbed Linda by the back of her head while she was carrying Oliver! With her hand on Linda’s head, she then took her other fist and started hitting Linda. But one more time, let me remind you that Linda is literally holding a three year old child in her hand! The same crazy woman who was trying to take Linda’s child away from her was now endangering that same child. The irony is amazing.
A struggle instantly ensued. Linda went into fight or flight mode and instantly swung around to defend herself and her child. As Linda turned around, Doris took another swing that brushed up on poor Oliver. Linda was now inflamed with anger and grabbed the old woman by her grey hair and yanked as hard as she could!
Doris let out a cowardly whimper then lurched again at Linda, her tiny old lady fists flying. At this point Larry heard the commotion and jumped in to the action, restraining the violent Doris. Richard stood there with his phone in hand but unfortunately, he had made his own stupid conclusions just like his wife.
Unbeknownst to Linda and Larry but Richard had actually just phoned the police. Not to report Doris for assault but to claim that Linda and Larry were attacking Doris and abusing Oliver! Okay, now that’s a crock of lies alright. So much for the family when they are willing to lie to the police about you.
Fully prepared to defend their child, Linda and Larry ran into the rental car company lobby where the workers locked the doors to keep the crazies away. Linda couldn’t believe what was happening; betrayed by both of her lying grandparents.
The police showed up ready to take names but thankfully it was not a game of he said she said. In typically dramatic fashion, Doris and Richard made such a scene that they caught the attention of the rental car employees who all backed Linda and Larry’s side of the story. Plus the security camera footage of Doris attacking Linda was pretty hard to dispute.
The police checked Oliver for injuries anyways and found no bruises, however, the poor boy did have some red marks from when Doris tried to strike his mother. By this point, what was supposed to be an awkward but overall smooth drive back to the house had exploded into a full-on episode of Jerry Springer.
Linda looked at her watch. By the time the dust had settled, it was just about 1 AM and they still had a flight to catch that morning. She took another exasperated sigh. When the police asked if she wanted to press charges Linda exhaustedly declined. By now she just wanted this nightmare to end.
The police took the tired family to a hotel for the night. With a broken heart and a clenched fist, Linda left the scene without saying goodbye to Doris or Richard. For all, it mattered this bridge was forever burned. Family is important, but sometimes you just have to cut out that dead toxic weight.
“And that was the last time I saw the entitled, monstrous, pseudo-mother,” says Linda. “Good riddance! She texts me now and then about how I'm killing her and how she's still waiting for an apology. The guilt I feel is unreal but I can't go back on the decision I've made. She's manipulative and emotionally abusive.”
Some people out there claim that family is everything but sometimes you just have to put your foot down. Today, Linda is happy with her boy Oliver who she says has “blossomed into a smart, honest, funny kid that cares about other people and is willing to give you the shirt off his back.”
In the scheme of things, it may have been easy to just have let Doris smother and raise Oliver, but by sparing the rod Linda may have risked spoiling her child. In the end, it seems like things have worked out for the best. With family like Doris and Richard who needs enemies?