First World Problems: A Shattered Father‑In‑Law


Dec 17, 2015


Broken Bottle

Article Icon - First World ProblemsFirst World Problems is a weekly advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy at contact@theswaddle.com (confidentially!) if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.


PROBLEM: I was in my inlaws’ home washing a vase for flowers and my father-in-law was telling me how much he loved the vase, how it was a wedding present decades ago and very meaningful. In the middle of this sweet story, it slipped and crashed on the floor. My father-in-law stopped talking. He said “oh, well” only. I’ve been apologizing, but is there anything else I should do? I don’t know whether buying a new vase is nice or insulting to its memory….

Just hung up the phone with my friend who’s lost her entire house in the Chennai floods, but I thought I should take a moment to offer assurance: Just hang in there! You and your father-in-law are going to get over this vase. I’m not sure how, but I can feel it.

P.S. Buy him a new one. Or, don’t buy him a new one, but offer to glue the pieces together. Doesn’t matter. It’s the gesture that counts.

P.P.S. We’ve all done terrible things.

P.P.P.S. Oh, well.

PROBLEM: Sorry this is long: I was visiting an acquaintance who loves gardening, and admired one of her plants. She told me how much she loved that plant, how unique it was, how she spoke to it every day, and had been nurturing it for years. She said she sensed the same in me and offered to loan it to me, insisting when I at first declined because it felt a little strange. Anyway, two years later, I still have the plant and it’s grown quite large. Am I supposed to give it back? And when? She’s never asked, but then we also don’t really see each other much.

Wow, I know people who are more invested in their gardens than in their marriages and I’ve also seen my share of weird demonstrations of love in general, but … loaning plants is a first. ‘Surrogate Plant Mom’ — you guys could make this a thing! The question is, why would you want to?


Written By Judy Balan

Judy Balan is a bestselling author and blogger popular for her quirky, often self-deprecatory humour. She is a self-proclaimed expert at American pop-culture with a sitcom/romcom quote for all of life’s situations. Judy believes that if she’s made you laugh, smile or even snort in the middle of a stressful day, her job here is done. Follow her at her website judybalan.com, on Twitter @judybalan, or on Facebook.


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