The Conversation

If you go way back and think about Monday, I wrote about a decision I made in regards to my college daughter. I just assumed what I am about to write would happen on Tuesday, but who knew the topic would reveal so many hidden truths and opinions. So today I am going to tell you conversation that I had with my daughter.

My Daughter told me she was thinking of coming home in a few weeks. There were two days in September when she would be free of commitments. Two days.

I asked why she wanted to come home. She said didn’t have someone to do something with on Friday or Saturday nights with.

I get this. I do not make friends easily. I am not good at small talk. I am not good at injecting myself into a group. And if I’m not now, I was hopeless at that task when I went to college. And yet, we all know I managed to make amazing friends.

My daughter marvels at how some kids just instantly form into a group. I had to explain to her that these are not really friendships: they are simply a group of people who fell together on the first day and whether or not they have anything in common they just group together because they do not want to be alone. There is nothing wrong with this action: it gets you out and in the game. I did this in college. I told my daughter about my experience. I also told her that I do not even remember the names of the girls on my floor that I hung out with those first weeks. I am not friends with them on Facebook, where you are literally “friends” with your neighbors work colleagues dog walker. And we all know that I made the most amazing friends in college that I still talk to till this day, often multiple times a week.

I also told her that I did not really hang out with these amazing women till I was a Sophomore. I knew them, but didn’t recognize how special and amazing they were. I explained to her that making real friends does not happen overnight.

My daughter has always had friends. In pre K she was inseparable from A- they were together every day after school for the entire year. Years K-2 brought about S. Then third grade happened, the year that kids really start to form personality. This is the year she became besties with R, who to this day remains her very best friend. This was also the year I noticed my daughter was on of the popular kids. I remember walking into the school cafeteria one afternoon to do something for PTA. There was my daughter at the lunch table in the middle, with the ten or twelve girls that everyone wanted to be friends with, the girls that all the kids at the tables surrounding them were looking at. This was a bizarre sight for me because I never sat at the popular table ever. I sat at the table in the back and ate my lunch as quick as possible so I could escape outside.

Then middle school came and my daughter was not  the “popular” kid, but the “smart” kid  who was in charge of everything. But she had friends: R from elementary school and a host of new best buds. High school- still the smart kid who was involved in everything. Had a really nice group of six girls, plus a bunch of others just outside the main group.

My daughter has always had friends. In fact, she has always had good, solid friends for she has chosen wisely. Her teen years were not filled with frenemies, but with kids she could count on.

So not having made friends yet is a new and interesting experience that does not always feel good. But she won’t make friends coming home on the weekends.

At the time I had the pivotal conversation with my daughter, it was early going: she’s barely been in class for six days. Club fair had not yet happened. Community service programs had not yet started. No one had even thought to form a study group yet. She really hasn’t had the opportunity to make any friends. Her roommate is a lovely person, kind, respectful and clean. But she doesn’t like to go out at all, so my daughter has no built in wingperson. It sucks, but it’s life: you don’t always get someone to hold your hand.

I told her that if she wants to have friends, she has to do something about it. It might entail smiling, which is not a sexist manipulation, but just a way of letting people know that you are approachable. Do you pet a snarking dog? I don’t. I pet a dog who looks friendly. Smiling does that too. We don’t always need to be stone faced.

Talk to people.

Have conversations.

Say Hi to the kid that sits next to you in class.

Introduce yourself to the kid in the elevator.

Tell someone you like their shoes.

Ask someone if they want to form a study group.

Ask someone if they want to practice for the moot court audition.

Do something.

It is probably 75% in your control if you make friends: some people are going to say no. Guess what? Rejection is a part of life. If everyone was afraid to talk to someone else, life as we know it would cease to exist.

But you have to be part of the game.

And sitting in your room in NYC is most definitely not putting you in the game.

And on a side note, my husband is Disneyland Dad: he just says “yes” to everything. If she had called him instead of me, she’s be coming home next weekend. So why did she call me, who she knew would say “No”. Cause maybe she really just needed a pep talk….

You’ve got to know your kid.

 

Culture Club

I would be remiss if I spoke of adult children without speaking of differences in culture. As Shallini pointed out the other day, it is customary for adult children to live with their parents until they are married. To do otherwise would be radical. And I think there are places where multi generational living is the norm. Some places, the youth take care of their parents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this way of thinking: it is just counter to how I’ve grown up.

So, when Shallini asked:

“What if she wants to move home?”

My first thought was:

“No &^#$^ing way”

Because, unless there is a legitimate reason, I have zero expectation that my daughter will ever live with me full time again. First off, I know she does not want to live with me when she gets out of school. Second off, I don’t want her living with me when she gets out of school. I love her….but…..in 21st century America that just doesn’t fly.

How does western society treat adult children that live with their parents when there is no legitimate reason? What do we really think?

Well, Big Bang Theory had Howard, who was continually mocked for living with his Mother, which he did until he married. He was seen as a man/child and routinely mocked. How many women want to marry a guy in his thirties who still lives at home? Who has a Mother that cooks for him and does his laundry? That’s the kind of guy that you tell your friends NOT to go out with. You see a guy living with his parents you scream TROUBLE….ISSUES…..

I had a friend from high school, a woman, who did not choose to move out of her parents home until she was about 40. I will tell you that this was a very weird dynamic and there were issues with her that did not constitute the living arrangement but signaled something was very wrong in her head. The red flag was this living arrangement and her parents did nothing to help her. Correction: they thought her living with them would help her.  This story ends with too many pills and a too early death.

As one blog friend stated yesterday, they have a friend who is in their sixties and still working hard to support a child in their thirties. I’ve heard of many such cases. Is this the new normal?

Or should we start to change out outlook, look towards a more Eastern way of thought, and consider multi generational households? Is there a benefit to many layers of a family residing under one roof? Incomes pooled together, helping one another out when needed?

Is Western society too focused on the individual other than the collective?

So my questions for write my blog Thursday:

What is your opinion of adult children living at home when there is no good reason (saving money for a short term basis, sickness, recent separation and need a place to crash short term)?

Why?

 

 

 

Take a Minute

Once upon a time, there lived a Queen who tended to react quickly.  A subject would say something, and the Queen would just start incoherently rambling- and these statements were not always Queenlike…….See, the Queen was not good at thinking before she spoke.  What she excelled at was over-reacting.   This got the Queen into a lot of trouble, because we all know words often hurt more than anything, and words said in the course of over-reacting……Oh- they could be ugly.

As the Queen got older, she realized that she should really try to control her tongue.  Yelling at people and saying long, rambling mean statements was probably not in her best interest.  So she began a quest to tame her quick responses- she would try to hold her tongue for 5 minutes before she said anything.  Now, she realized that this might mean cutting her tongue out- but if that was the price she had to pay to be a better person, so be it.  And think of all the good customer service experience she might get if she was just a tad less quick to judge the level of their competence…….

The Queen was taking baby steps.  She tried really, really hard at not spewing venom.  Luckily, nothing had broken in the royal apartment, so she had little interaction with service representatives.  She still freaked out at her Mother- but if you heard the ridiculous things her Mother said, even someone taking a vow of silence would not be able to hold back.

One day, the royal family was eating dinner.  The Queen and the Princess got into a rather heated debate about PSAT preparation and books.  No- they did not argue about studying in general- the Princess is extremely studious.  The argument centered around the quality of the review books- Princess felt the review book in hand was inferior, and the Queen said to just finish the present book and then they would buy another.

What happens when two strong willed women argue?

The Princess used some not very Princess -like language at the Queen.

The Queen was not amused- but she took a deep breath.  She got up and began clearing plates.  (this was a sign- the Queen did not call to the servants to take away the debris from dinner- she did it herself)  The Queen then started cleaning up the kitchen.  She did not utter a word.

After about 3 minutes, the Princess went and hugged the Queen.  She apologized.  A true, honest apology.

So what did the Queen realize?

  1. The Queen would have made the situation a lot worse by yelling or saying mean things
  2. The Princess does not normally act in this manner- this was an anomaly
  3. The Princess is stressed about standardized tests- if saying a not so nice word is her way of blowing off steam, the Queen is OK with it, because there are far more destructive ways to blow off steam
  4. The argument was about PSAT books
  5. The Queen/Princess dynamic is a tough one- the boundaries are always being tested

The Queen begrudgingly admits she’s not perfect…..and knows she will never be perfect.  She just wants to be a slightly better person.