I am a single mom, and I was raised in a family that had a strict policy about not quitting things. This meant that if you took a serving of mashed potatoes, you finished it. If you joined a team or took piano lessons, you kept at it until Kingdom come. I believe this gave me a great work ethic and, at the same time, a lot of resentment. Now that I have kids who are joining teams and taking piano lessons, I am torn about what to do when their interest inevitably flags. Having no spouse or partner (quitting my marriage didn’t go over well, as you can imagine) to bounce this off of, I am interested in hearing your opinion.
To Stay or Not to Stay
Dear To Stay,
Different families – to say nothing of different cultures – treat this issue very differently. My husband came from a “don’t quit” family, and I came from a “do what makes you happy” family (and, perhaps accordingly, I will say that he is much more ambitious, organized and has more stick-to-itiveness). So, when we had kids, we clashed over this exact issue since we both wanted to create the culture in which we grew up.
I lean toward taking your cues from your kids. You know them best, and I think you can tell when they are moaning about something because it’s hard or boring or a nice day outside, and screaming and yelling because they are deeply unhappy and super stressed about said activity. These days, I’m not sure anything is worth adding to this generation’s level of stress. Every adult I know says, “God, I wish I had stuck with ____________ cause I’d be so good by now!” (revisionist history to be sure). But for every Yo Yo Ma out there, there are a million kids taking cello lessons and hating them.
My advice is do what you think is best for each of your kids, given their temperament. Some can tolerate pressure better than others, some are needier than others, some are more expensive than others, some are more stubborn than others. One size will not fit all.
I am 17 and my brother is 19. I am still in high school, and he is in college. My problem is that I think my mother coddles my brother like crazy – and always has. I happen to be a great cook, if I must say so myself, even better than my mom. I’ve been cooking since I was very young because I love it. But he can barely boil water, so she sends him all sorts of foodstuffs and homemade mixes. She bends over backwards to make sure he has anything he needs. I feel like I am more self-sufficient and so I don’t get all those goodies. I tease her about it but really, I kind of resent it.
Being the youngest sucks
Dear Being the Youngest,
That does sound frustrating! However, does your mom applaud you for your self-efficiency and possibly “coddle” you in other ways? Since you haven’t left home yet, you don’t know what goodies will come your way once you hit college.
Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to sit your mom down in a non-teasing moment and tell her how you feel. I’m sure she’d want to know, and my guess is that she may be able to reassure you about what you feel is unfair. Remember, parenting is no cake walk, and no one gets it one hundred percent right. Many of us carry these old resentments around from childhood…until we become parents and are like, ohhhhhhhh, I get it! Don’t carry it around. Get it off your chest and do it when you are both feeling calm and rational and in good moods….maybe while cooking?
In the meantime, I have another perspective on being the youngest that I want to present to you. When you are the youngest, you get to see the things that your siblings get into trouble for and avoid them. You never have to go to a new school without having been there many times because your older sib attended. And then there is the classic: your siblings have broken your parents in, and possibly broken their spirits as well!
So, there are some things to appreciate. The slight age difference between you and your brother may seem like the Grand Canyon now, but soon you may be very grateful you are so close in age. Good luck and bon appetite!
What is charcuterie and why is it so hard to pronounce?
Monosyllabic at heart
While charcuterie is four whole syllables that may exhaust you and send you to your sick bed, it is a French word and thereby, a little fancier than the American words composed of one easy-to-pronounce syllable like MEAT and CHEESE.
I’m told, by the great source called Google, that the actual definition of the word charcuterie is a specific term with origins reaching as far back as 15th century France. Literally translated, it means the products of a fancy pork butcher. Who knew?
Indeed, charcuterie is a beautiful offering of meats and cheeses on a big platter – not always including pork, but often – and fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts and olives (as well as other assorted things). It is served as finger food/appetizers or light fare in group settings and is quite delicious. But, if you prefer, by all means skip the four syllable, fancy-shmancy words like charcuterie and stay with words that will tax your tongue less like ME and EAT. That leaves more charcuterie for the rest of us!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.