My eighth grade daughter is very body conscious, as many young women are at her age (and any age actually). I try to be as supportive as I can and tell her she is beautiful inside and out. However, there are some days when she leaves the house in outfits that look terrible on her or worse, ridiculous. But she loves them, so I bite my tongue. But it’s killing me! What should I do?
Dear Tongue tied,
Keep biting, baby! What looked good to you when you were in eighth grade and what looks good to her are likely to be completely different. Your parents probably thought that what you wore was equally ridiculous.
Twenty years from now when she looks back at pictures of herself from this time, she may laugh at how silly she looked, or she may think she looked pretty fabulous. But what she won’t do is look back and think, God, my mother was SO judgemental and critical! And that is what you want.
Of course, if you bite your tongue all the way through, you will have pierced it and then you can horrify your daughter even more thoroughly by putting a stud through it!
A lot of my friends are getting married…good for them! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…guess what? Again, good for them! But if I have to hear one more couple talk about how they are trying to have a baby, I’m gonna lose it.
No one wants to hear about how much sex you are having because you are trying to conceive, which is basically what you are telling me. Ad nauseum. Save it for someone who cares, I say. How can I try and get out of these conversations without yucking their yum?
Falling on deaf ears
Well, I hate to say this, but you may be a little bit screwed. I will, completely without evidence, chalk this up to people living their entire life on social media, assuming that everyone wants to know everything about them.
News flash: they don’t. Save the details of your basal body temperature for your best friend. The fault is not with you but with the people who are talking about their adventures in conception, with no regard for their audience.
Read the room, people! On top of the fact that no one wants to hear about your sex life, you never know what other people may be going through. Maybe you are talking to someone who is infertile, has suffered miscarriages or does not want children.
At any rate, I think the only polite thing to do is to say “Excuse me, my phone is ringing, I have to take it,” and step out of the conversation. If you have the chutzpah, you could say, “I’m not in a long-term relationship, I don’t know if I can have children, and I haven’t had sex since Obama was president, so while I wish you well on your journey to conception, maybe it would be better to talk about it to other people…Thanks! How about those Chicago Sky?!” But the only place most of us say these kinds of things is in the shower.
As the youngest of four siblings, I often benefited from relatives who were older and more established that would sometimes treat me to a meal or some other thing I needed to help me out. Now that I’m fully grown (and then some), I am lucky to be in a position where I can grab the check if I am out with nieces, nephews or younger folk. I feel that that’s what elders should do.
Recently, my son, who is just starting out, went out with a cousin and his husband – much older, great (well-paying) jobs, no kids – for a meal in the (expensive) town where they all live. I was thrilled that the cousins were hanging out together! I was a little less thrilled when I found out they split the bill, especially since the older cousin picked the place and he has verrrrrry nice taste.
I feel petty but, really? My nephew couldn’t take his little cousin out and treat him to a good meal? (Last time I was there I – happily! – treated all of them to a very pricey afternoon of drinks and dinner). If one of my kids did that, I’d be all over it. Now I sound both judgy and petty!
If you’re feeling judgy and petty, you’ve come to the right place! One of my favorite activities in life is being judgy and petty. My dogs are named Judgy and Petty. There should be a board game named “Judgy and Petty.” I would definitely be the reigning champion. But as mature human beings, we must fight against our worst instincts. In this case, however, I’m with you. Welcome to Judgy and Petty!
Nevertheless, it must be said that in the big scheme of things, check-splitting is not the same as, say, atom splitting. No one is going to be irradiated as a result of having to pay their fair share. And, your son could have looked at the prices ahead of time and asked for a change of venue (I know, what 22-year-old does that?).
Of course it would be nice if the elder, more established cousin treated the younger, just-starting-out cousin to a meal, pricey or otherwise. It is the gracious thing to do, to say nothing of paying it forward and carrying on a time-honored tradition. But, family being what it is, you have to accept everyone’s great qualities along with their more stingy ones.
I like to think of it as information gathering. Now you have one more piece of info about this couple. Perhaps not too flattering information. Despite the temptation to stew and rant, it’s probably best to remember what you love about this nephew, be grateful the cousins like each other, and chalk this one up to the fact that your sibling is not as good a parent as you are! And then take up Taekwondo.
By the way, I love that you end your note with, “if one of my kids did that, I’d be all over it.” Like we have control over our grown children. That’s a good one. Thanks for the laugh!
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at email@example.com.