Don’t like your teen’s mood, wait 5 minutes, it will change.

Actual texts with “The Girl”:

10:05 am: Girl: sends a picture of sleeping dog “Your cow is sleeping with her eyes open and dreaming”
Me: Sleepy cow
Girl: Yes. LOL

10:10am: Girl: I am literally crying rn (right now)
Me: Why? (fearing something is wrong with said dog/cow from texts minutes before)
Girl: Riley isn’t coming back next year
Me: I’m sorry,  why?
Girl: She is going to Barrett (another school). What am I going to do?

Me: That sucks, I’m sorry.

10:12am: Girl: sends another picture of sleeping dog “You do you moo” (yes, my dog’s name is Moo)
Me: Wow, she is sleepy
Girl: LOL. She’s under my comforter . Lol

Seven minutes. Seven minutes and we went from happy-go-lucky girl, in bed (from the photos) playing with the dog to a crying mess and back again. I have said it many times, I love my stepdaughter, but life with a 13-year-old girl is not for the faint of heart. At the same time I was receiving these play-by-play updates on her emotional well-being, I came across a video on Facebook by a blogger mom who showed what life with her teen son is like. The emotional roller-coaster that life with a teen is for those who live with them, but with the reminder that, however hard it is on us, it so much harder for them. I sent the video to my husband, just a digital reminder that we are by no means alone.

We have all been there, we were teens and we survived. Each generation has their own struggles, but some issues of the teenage years are universal. Hormones and emotions go hand-in-hand. I always assumed that girls were worse, one because of  my own experience, followed by living in the same house with my younger sister- I’m still shocked our house was still standing by the time she left for college. Some argue that today’s teens have it worse, that puberty starts earlier due in part to the food we eat (meat and dairy with added hormones). I don’t know, I think it sucked for us and it sucks for the girl and her friends.

When I was a teen my room was a mess, always. I hated to clean it and would always find a way around doing it until threatened with life and limb to clean it up. My stepdaughter is no different, daily chores are an ongoing battle. I know that the daily request via text to let her know when I leave work is so she can rush around getting everything done before we get home, never mind she has been home all day. Few teens make cleanliness a priority, but one thing I am very grateful for is the girl is not one that lets personal hygiene slip. My friend Jane’s oldest stepdaughter, Mary, will go days without showering and longer without washing her hair. It will get to the embarrassing point when her father will have to let her know she smells and teachers have reached out to them about this problem. Dick and Jane have money, so that is not an issue, yet Mary not only will not bathe, she will wear dirty clothes for an entire week. To me this is bizarre and something I only thought parent’s of teen boys dealt with, as we all know, boys are gross.

One thing I do think is harder for teens today is dealing with constant contact via electronics and social media. Yes, I spent hours on the phone with my friends at her age, but now they are doing face to face chats, often in groups- while she may be in her room alone, by stepdaughter has very little true “alone” time during her waking hours. This constant contact has made it so that she is dependent upon it. I can see the anxiety in her when a friend doesn’t reply instantly to a message or she is has the rare occasion of being disconnected from her peers. While it hasn’t been a major issue for us, cyber bullying is a real problem, with kids her age or younger committing suicide due to the pressures they face online, as well as in real life. They are unable to escape, the bullies at school literally come into their homes via social media. I know the girl has shared with me more than one instance of someone who she felt was as friend sending her nasty texts or excluding her from things- exclusion is one the most effective way teens bully each other.

My stepdaughter is  loving and gets  attached very quickly to her friends. I love this about her, but also see how these attachments cause her to be a target of mean girl behaviors for her “friends”. Teen girls can only have a pack that is so big, just one extra body and the balance is thrown completely off. Randomly girls will be cast out for whatever reason, when it is the girl, it crushes her and she struggles to rationalize it. Within day, if not sooner, she is back in the fold, happy to be there and quickly forgets the pain inflected upon her by her “friends”. I want to tell her to drop them like a bad habit, but while I may be old in her eyes, I still remember the delicate balance that is middle school. Recently I had an issue with a mean girl at work, I was able to share that with the girl, part to prove to that some mean girls never grow out of that bullying behavior and let her know that when I say I understand, I really do.

We, my husband and myself as well as Ursula (the girl’s mother), are very lucky that she is open to talk with all of us about what is going on in her world. I hope that continues and she knows that we always there for her. She is 13, so I fully realize that however hard we feel it has been thus far, we have only just begun and the road is going to get far more bumpy before it smooths out. I fear what it is going to be like when boys become a real issue, not sure who that is going to be harder on, the girl or her father…stay tuned.

 

What the hell are some people thinking?

Seriously, there are times I just look at some people and wonder what makes them think their behavior is acceptable. I realize in today’s world, with the President of the United States being a frightening example of this, some feel they are now entitled to do and say whatever, whenever and no one is going to push back. Well, I’m here to say, we need to push!

Today something happened at work, nothing horribly major, but a breach of office etiquette. The behavior was called out, as it should be, and the offending party did as they typically do, became combative and unprofessional, to the point that the other party sunk down to the same level. The real problem came when the party in the wrong accused the other of bullying them. It is insane and pretty much out the Trump family handbook of creating a hostile situation then attempting to turn it around to play the victim. When did adults start thinking it is acceptable to avoid any and all responsibility for their own actions? It’s not ok to talk to people like you have no interest in their side in a professional setting or to raise your voice because you think louder means you are more important.

The person who created the drama is one of those negative people who blames others for everything. She complains to anyone who listen about how this person treated her poorly or that person talked to her in an unprofessional manner or another person isn’t doing their job and its her place to set them straight. It is always something with her and if anyone dare put her in her place, she will be the first to run to her boss, or worse, HR. We are grown ass folks, in a corporate setting, not working part-time at McD’s after school. At what point do people not see its THEM, not the rest of the world how is the issue. Self reflection is a lost art my friends.

I feel like I go through most days working very hard to control my mouth and my facial expressions. At any given time people will do or say things that they should be embarrassed and ashamed of, yet they feel justified and entitled. I am going to need to muster all my strength later this evening while helping a friend who is a wedding planner. The mother the groom is nothing short of crazy. I realize weddings can be stressful, especially for the close family, but that is no reason to make unreasonable demands and not be willing to discuss things like an adult. Also, paying someone for services does NOT give you the right to talk down to them or treat them like they should do anything you demand of them.

The rule of do unto others, treating others the way you would like to be treated, that needs to make a comeback in our society. “Telling it like it is” for the sake of being spiteful or bullying others to get your way needs to stop. Talk to others with respect, have the patience to listen to the other person before you attack or do not look to attack at all. You do get more flies with honey as the Southern saying goes- try it and you just may find it much easier to get your way.

Office politics…the southern belle way

I work for a Fortune 500 company in a large corporate setting. Anyone who has ever worked in such an environment knows of the politics one much manage on a daily basis and the little tricks one learns to endure each day without becoming unemployed. One way we southern belles deal with such an office is with good ol’ fashioned gossip.

This morning my day was started with a fellow co-worker and friend coming into my office to offer up a nice little nugget of gossip, delivered as sweet as her morning coffee. Nothing horrible or damning, just some internal speculations. She had no idea how perfectly timed this was, as the subject of today’s tale was on my “list” just yesterday. This person fancies herself the Queen Bee of the office and as such feels basic rules civility need not apply to her. The bitch is RUDE…there, it has been said. And trust me when I say, I am not the only one that feels this way, it’s a known fact around the office.

What I have learned about Queen Bees, be it in the work place, social circles or even school (even as young as middle school, as I’m learning from my stepdaughter), is they have very little they control outside of the setting you are in, so they go overboard to control that environment. Some, like our work Queen Bee, are getting a bit past their prime and are no longer needed by their children, who are adults with lives of their own, they have been married forever in some cases and I’m sure the routine of that has snuffed out the spark. They feel overwhelmed in the work place with the newer technologies and gadgets. Being bitchy and controlling is the only power they have or perceive they have. The sad thing is they have no idea that everyone knows the truth and they are often the topic of the office gossip as the rest of us must vent to make it through the day. Queen Bees  have often been a round a long time (too long in some) and are protected by higher-ups who don’t have the heart to put them out to pasture and hope with each anniversary  a retirement will be announced. But these Queens have nothing else, so they are not going anywhere and with each passing year they become more difficult to deal with.

Then you have the Wannabees. These are woman who will never be the Queen Bees, but they control what little piece of the office they have as if they are the next in line. These women are often more bitter and have less of an outside life than the Queen Bees.  They follow the rules to the letter and take delight in pointing out when others don’t and will turn someone in at the drop of the hat. They think this behavior is viewed as loyalty by those in charge, but the reality is these woman are viewed in a negative light, to be avoided. These women also never let anything go, no matter how much time has passed, old situations will be brought up to downgrade others. They are petty and mean and it shows in the lines on their faces;  when you frown all the time it takes a toll on your face that no lotion or potion can fix.

The Ladies in Waiting is one of the larger segments in the office environment.  This group is made up of seasoned professionals waiting for their turn to move up the ladder. They have managed to find a way to work with the Queen Bee and avoid the wrath of the Wannabees. This group works together, supports each other and really do delight in the advancement of one of their own.  This is a good place to be and most of the best office gossip comes from these ranks. They see all and know all. They know who best to share information with and who to avoid. They are friendly and smile, learning long ago you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Look for the person with the candy on the their desk or who brings in the best homemade goodies for no reason…that is the person you want to get closest to.

The last group exists everywhere, not just the office, the Pretty Princesses. They are young, attractive  and often have few if any real skills. They dress inappropriately for the work place for attention, which works. The men can’t help but notice, but not as much as the other women do. They have skated though life on their looks and are looking to land a husband before their looks fade. They seek jobs in field where the husband hunting is best and are often noticed right away by the Ladies in Waiting as those to avoid. Often a Queen Bee will take a Pretty Princess under her wing, in hopes that their youth will rub off the aging mentor. Wannabee loath the Pretty Princess,  think of the classic wicked witch who hates the beautiful princess for no real reason. Wannabees love having prey to toy with and the office princesses are perfect.

The funniest part for the work world is, all of this takes place without the men knowing. No matter the level, from corner office to mailroom, the men come in, do their assigned job with little outside engagement. The women are the glue that hold it all together, much like the mothers hold the family together, in the work world the woman, no matter their position, give the office that “lived in” feel. We may not make as much as our male counterparts, but we certainly no our value.

Sometimes saying nothing speaks volumes

More with my friend Jane.

Jane is not a southern belle, but I love her anyway. Not being from the south I feel there are times where patience is not Jane’s strongest virtue. She is a “fixer”- in her world there is a problem, you fix it or you talk it to death. The ongoing issues with the kids and the resulting strain on her marriage with Dick they have a list of therapist on retainer like most southern belles have caters! There is one for the family, one for each kid, one for marriage counseling and now, one for Jane.

Now, one might thing with all these professionals and scheduled (and paid for) time to talk, there would be no need to have your issues consume your life. Well, the issues aren’t fixed, so guess what, the search for a fix continues. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of therapy- been down that road myself and found it very helpful. However, the key to good therapist/patient relationship is each party must know when to speak and when to LISTEN. Jane has a hard time with the latter.

What I didn’t share in my last blog was for the first several years of her relationship and marriage to Dick, she had positive and loving relationship with his two girls. Something happened that caused a shift, seemingly overnight. The theory is the girls’ mother, who will call Medusa, came up on some online venting of Jane’s (oh the power of social media) and shared it with the girls to prove Jane to the evil stepmother Medusa has painted her to be all along. There was no proof this actually happened (yes, she vented and yes, Medusa found it, but the part about the girls knowing)- but this is what Jane holds on to as the reason for everything that is wrong, especially with Mary, the older of the two. Rather than address it at the time, one of the many therapist said it should not be addressed, at least not with the children. Jane could not fully accept this and could never let it go. Without fail this is brought up in any conversation about girls or the current state of her relationship. I have told her she needs to move on, leave it in the past and look toward the future, both for her marriage, her relationship with her stepdaughters and her own sanity- but bless her heart, she just can’t. I have advised to just do as the therapists have suggested, to let the girls come to some peace on their own and not force the situation, but of course, keep a mental inventory of everything that is happening should you need it later. But God love her, she can’t. In no time at all she is wanting to bring it up or discuss whether or not it should be addressed in a session (we are going on YEARS with this now).

Personally- I see no good coming from addressing what Jane feels is the elephant in the room. I think the only thing that will come from this is her true (and negative) feelings about the girls and their mother will become the focus. I truly believe she will look like the bad guy, whereas now she is kind of looking like a victim of a bitter ex-wife and a bratty teenage girl. I wish I could get her to see the benefit of keeping her mouth shut, at least on this topic. She got caught, it sucks and feel for her, as we all need to vent from time to time and she thought she was in a safe space, but to rehash it now will only look like she is needing to defend and validate what happened so long ago. Medusa will come out smelling like a rose and Mary will have validation for her hateful behavior.

So, now we wait to see how this plays out. I hope Jane will find a safe place with her new therapist and in turn find some peace in her life, lord knows she deserves at least that!

Well bless her heart….

We all have at least one person in our lives who creates drama around themselves. In this case, this person creates medical “drama” for attention. To be clear, she has had major medical issues in the past, maybe the attention she received then is like a drug and now that she is well, she can’t live without it.

Over the weekend a group of friends attended a fundraiser, complete with a sit down formal dinner. All was well, until the salad dressing was passed and one may have thought the crystal dish contained something from a horror movie by the over the top reaction. Seems someone has an allergy to mustard. Ok, simple enough….DON’T EAT THE DRESSING. (side note: I’m pretty sure it was NOT mustard, but a citrus based dressing). About 15 minutes later, I notice this person clawing at her neck and breathing as if she is having issues. Insert eye roll, but I asked “what is the problem”- regretting it the second the words passed my lips. Seems she must have had some contact with the offending yellow substance. She claimed hives (yet only under her clothes, none were visible). I looked at my husband and calmly asked him to go to the front desk (the event was being held in a hotel) and ask about if they had Benadryl, if not, please walk across the street and purchase some. My hero returned 5 minutes later with the magic pink pills and all was right with the world.  And I swear, I too noticed an eye roll, as I think she was hoping to milk this allergic reaction for all it was worth. If you are that allergic to something as common as mustard, wouldn’t you make sure to carry something to help yourself? I have had countless meal with this person, never, not once, was an allergy mentioned and I’m certain mustard came into play more than once (we love a good burger joint).

Yesterday it was her mom who had the emergency, which of course created drama for her. Today, it is her, vague-posting on Facebook about a bout of vertigo. I mean REALLY, it’s just endless. At what point do you say something or do as I have done, say nothing. No likes, not sad face emojis to show my support for her plight of the day. I can no longer offer support and suggestions, because its exhausting to continue to do so only to have my words and emotions wasted.

I don’t understand why people do this. I prefer to not have the world know my weaknesses and pride myself on taking care of myself without a cheering section. Maybe its a southern thing, we are stronger than people give us credit for since we can appear sugar sweet and oh so ladylike. This person is from up North, aren’t they supposed to be so strong? Maybe social media is to blame. You can post about not feeling well and you will get dozens of people offering kind words of love, concern and support. Are we getting to a place were every thing that happens to us must be put on public display if it’s not posted on your timeline it’s not real?

House guest from hell….

This is the post excerpt.

In the south we pride ourselves on being good hosts/hostesses. We make people feel welcomed in our homes and are gracious when we are the guests. I know not everyone is raised the same, but seriously, when did basic manners and human decency get tossed out the window?

Over the past weekend we had guests in for a major event- always a dicey plan, as you are far too dependent on the weather and in early Spring, you never know what you may get. Try as I am may I can’t get over how rude and dismissive some people can be. I was raised if you don’t like something/someone, you smile and remove yourself or remain quiet until you can. You don’t act a damn fool and make your host and others feel uncomfortable. I literally lost track of how often that happened this weekend. I feel bad for my other guests, my husband who was put in the role of “babysitter” and even myself. By Saturday night my graciousness had come to an end and Sunday morning I informed this guest, they needed to stay in a hotel that night (mind you they were to have left Sunday morning, but took it upon themselves to change their travel to Monday- without asking).

I should have known- but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, maybe more times than they deserve. People from larger more “glamorous” cities tend to look upon my hometown as “Mayberry” like- when the reality is we are more progressive than most politically, we are blue dot in a blood red state. I knew I was in trouble when we crossed the state line and this person saw our skyline. “That’s it”- with a laugh. Yes, THAT’S IT…we don’t need a ton of mile high sky scrappers to define us. Then the kiss of death “seriously, your stadium is sponsored by KFC?!?!!?” Yes, we are in Kentucky…the joke writes itself, but so what. Yum Brands and KFC are international companies based here, I take it as a point of pride that they wanted to invest in our city and college basketball team to sponsor one of the top venues in the country.

Then the people, “are there only ugly people in Kentucky?”… hmmmm…. I’M IN KENTUCKY!!! The comment was repeated every place we went. “Doesn’t anyone know how to dress in Kentucky?” Again, I live here, are you saying I don’t know how to dress?  This came to a breaking point when invited to a party at friend’s home. Rather than be gracious, this visitor was stand-offish and awkward, so much so it was commented upon several times. I was mortified and we made our exit as soon as we could. The next night we attended a formal event, this was when a photo was posted tagged “Why so many white people”- that just goes beyond all decency and was not even true! Again, mortified and had started mentally counting down until this person  was back on a plane to return to  a land more worthy.

We hosted a small get together at our house for Derby, the most prideful 2 minutes of any Kentucky girl’s year. More snide comments and dismissive behavior to my guests ending with broken property and worst the attitude they were not blame. Honestly, considering how miserable this person acted the entire time, you would have assumed they wanted to be rid of this horrible place as much as I was ready to be rid of them, but no. Without asking they changed their flight to stay until Monday. In a very unSoutthern Belle move, I told them they needed to find a hotel for the night if they were planning to stay- I was DONE! I’m still amazed they didn’t see this coming, but oh well, I no longer cared and just wanted my home back.

The lesson learned: not everyone was raised with the same basic social graces. What we take for granted as “normal” does not come naturally to all and you need to be careful who you invite into your home. Also, 5 days is far too long to have house guests!!!!