Foxhole Advice: I’m not who I said I was!

Dear Family Foxhole,

I moved to a new school (7th grade, which is the first year of junior high in my new school district) recently and decided to be more outgoing than I was in the past. It worked–kinda. I’ve made new friends, but they expect me to the goofy, loud, opinionated one. This puts a lot of pressure on me to always have some witty comment to say, which means I’m making some borderline rude comments in class that have gotten me in trouble. Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up, and I think my parents are going to be surprised to hear me called a “class clown” (if my teachers are feeling nice) or a distraction (if they are not). When I get home from school each day, I’m basically exhausted from being so much “fun” at school, so my mom and dad think of me as a quiet introvert. I’m not sure how to handle my parents’ reaction, and I’m not sure if I can keep this up!

The Secret Introvert

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Dear Introvert,

Well, this is a fine pickle you’ve gotten yourself into. I assume you’ve learned “To Thine Own Self Be True” by now. It sounds like you know who you want to be (less of a smart aleck), but how do you get there?

If your friends are true friends, they’ll let you change in this positive way. They might be confused (After all, you kind of sold them on a person who is different from what they’re ending up getting.), but there is definitely enough room in a friend group for one more quiet person.

And if they don’t let you change, then they aren’t the kind of people who want to hang out with.

And it could just be that there are other people in your friendship group who aren’t getting to be who they want to be, either. If they see you change, they might be inspired to do the same!

Mr. Prickles

Mr. Prickles

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Dear Introvert,

Way to go! You thought that you might like life better if you were more outgoing, so you became more outgoing. Then you realized that this wasn’t the right fit for you. I admire anyone who is willing to take on this kind of challenge and do the work to make it happen. Congratulate yourself on taking charge of your social life!

It’s easy to say “just be yourself” but hard to do. The good news is that you do have a good idea of who you are. You’re an introvert. Rejoice! That just means you find that maintaining a lot of relationships and performing in public (like being the class clown) is exhausting, whereas some people find it invigorating.

It really is just as easy as stopping it. Tomorrow, don’t make any sassy remarks. If your friends are egging you on, tell them that you’re not feeling like yourself. Fake looking a little ill when you say it. They’ll think you’re just a little tired. After a few days of this, they’ll back off.

Lamb

Lamb

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Dear Introvert,

There is one solution to both your problems: Throw yourself on your parents’ mercy. Before that Parent-Teacher meeting, try this:

Mom and Dad, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve been doing some things at school that I’m not proud of.

Trust me, your parents are immediately thinking of worse things than what you are about to tell them. That’s why they will feel relief when they hear you say:

I’ve not been acting like myself. I was worried about not making friends, so I decided to be more extroverted. But I misunderstood what that meant. I took it too far and have been disrespectful to my teachers on a few occasions. They are probably frustrated with me because I’ve been disruptive in class. But it was only because I wanted the kids in the class to think I was funny. 

Your parents are going to hear this and think you are really self-aware and responsible. So you follow up with your request:

Now I feel a lot of pressure to keep that up. But I don’t like it. It’s not who I am, and it’s making me soooo tired. I’d like to use you all as an excuse to stop. When other kids are pressuring me into doing something stupid or rude, I’d like to say, “If I do that, my parents would send me to military school!” Is that okay?

They’ll agree–and, with that, you let your parents be the bad guys. It’s their job sometimes, and they’ll be glad to do it.

Honey

Honey

 

Foxhole Advice: Comparing Mothers

Dear Family Foxhole,

I’m a 3rd grade girl. A girl in my class keeps bragging about how much money her mom spends on her (the girl’s) make-up, hair, and nails. I mostly ignore her, but this week she said that my mom must not love me since she doesn’t pay for me to have these things. That really bothered me because my family doesn’t have a lot of money but I don’t want her saying that. What can I do to make Miss Makeup shut up about this?

Upset

Dear Upset,

Miss Makeup’s mom spends a lot of money to make her look different than she actually looks. That doesn’t sound like her mom loves her. It sounds like her mom thinks she’s ugly.

You probably shouldn’t say that to her, but remember that your own mom loves you enough not to make you wear makeup.

Mr. Prickles

Mr. Prickles

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Dear Upset,

You know that your mother’s love is not measured by how much makeup (or anything else) she buys you. Think about the ways that your mother does show you she loves you. Maybe it is by playing a game with you, reading a book with you, driving you to practice for a sport or rehearsal for a performance, washing your clothes, or going to work to earn money to make sure your needs are met. If you aren’t feeling loved by your mother, you can ask for her to express her love for you in ways that do make you feel loved but don’t cost money.

You don’t need to convince Miss Makeup that your mother loves you. Your love for your mother and her love for you are between the two of you, and this girl has nothing to do with it.

Miss Makeup probably brought your mother into this because you weren’t jealous of her makeup or her mother. Some people, unfortunately, don’t feel like they can enjoy what they have unless someone else is envious of it. When she saw that you weren’t envious of what she had, she decided to go after some thing she knows many kids feel insecure about: their parents and their financial situation.

Neither are her business. Ignore her bragging, but if she brings your mother or your family into it, just look at her straight in the eye and say, “Don’t speak about my family, and I won’t speak about yours.” If she continues, simply get up and move away from her. If you are required to sit next to her, request that your seat be moved.

Honey

Honey

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Dear Upset,

There are three issues here: Her wearing makeup. Her bragging. Her insulting you.

Her makeup isn’t yours to worry about. Forget about it.

Her bragging shows the world that she’s insecure. She should be embarrassed to tell the world that, but you can’t help her there. Forget about it.

Her insulting you is not related to the first things. She’s doing that because she’s mean. You can’t change that, either, but you can prevent her from saying mean things to you by leaving her alone.

Tell her: “I won’t be friends with someone who insults my family. You have to stop now if you want to continue being friends.” If she doesn’t stop, she’s not your friend. You can let her know that by refusing to work or play with her. If she decides that she won’t say those things any more, you can include her again. If the teacher asks what the problem is, explain that Miss Makeup criticize your family, so you aren’t able to work with her but that you would be happy to do so in the future if she is able to refrain from her nasty words. That puts all the responsibility on her, where it belongs.

Lamb

Lamb

Foxhole Advice: What to do when you get presents you don’t like

January 2,

My grandparents give me lousy Christmas presents each year. They are either things I’m not interested in or presents that are for kids younger than me. (I’m 10.) I know it’s the thought that counts, but my grandparents don’t really seem to be thinking about me when they give me these gifts. Should I just pretend I like their presents or tell them how I really feel?

Don’t Call Me Ungrateful, Please

Dear Not Ungrateful,

In my opinion, the best option would be to either subtly imply that you would like something more to your liking, for next time, or simply return the presents to the store where they were purchased. If they were from a big box store, such as Walmart or Target, buy something you would prefer to the lackluster gifts. Your grandparents are far away and probably won’t notice that you don’t own their gifts anymore. 

Mr. Prickles

Mr.Prickles

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Dear Not Ungrateful,

First, let me say I LOVE the double negative in your pseudonym! But, graver topics are on the floor: Christmas presents.

If you feel like the fits aren’t a good fit for you, then it means that your grandparents are struggling to buy or make what you would like. Help them out by giving them ideas! Decide on one kind of thing that your grandparents could give you and ask for that year after year (or until you grow out of it).

For example, maybe there is a series of books you love (The Nathan Hale series is a good choice if you like history and graphic novels!) or a kind of book you like (like stories about World War II). Many schools participate in Scholastic Book Clubs. Create an account and a wishlist, then share it with your grandparents. They can buy the books online and have them shipped to your school, and when they order books this way, your classroom gets free books from Scholastic. 

Or maybe there is a kind of art supply you like and could always use more of. Things that get used up (paints, crayons, sketchbooks, fancy teas, bubble bath) are things you can always use. 

Communication is the key here. You can tell them what you want without sounding greedy. Try this: “One of my goals for next year is to get better at crocheting so I’m asking people who usually buy me presents to help stock my supply of yarn” or “This year, I’ve really gotten into history, especially the Civil Rights period. If you were thinking about buying me a present, I’d love to read more about this time period.”

Check in with us next year to let us know how this works out for you!

Lamb

Lamb

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Dear Not Grateful,

You are kind to care about your grandparents’ feelings. 

This isn’t a problem about Christmas, I think. It’s a problem about the rest of the year. Your grandparents don’t seem to know you well enough to give you a present based on your interests. Let them know what interests you far in advance of Christmas. Better yet, get them interested with you Even though they are far away, you can share some interests in common. For example:

  • Play online chess or another online game together
  • Make a craft together (like each of you piecing half of the squares of a quilt).
  • Set aside time after your favorite football teams play to discuss the game over Skype or Facetime.
  • If you perform in a concert or play, send your grandparents a video of it.
  • Take photos of the artwork you make in school and ask your parents to post them online where your grandparents can see them.
  • Ask your parents to buy you a set of 12 nice notecards and 12 stamps, then paperclip a stamped, addressed envelope with a blank card inside to each month of your calendar. Each time something exciting happens that month, write a short note inside the card (“Band concert today–We played music from Harry Potter!” or “Lost our basketball game tonight, but I scored more points in a single game than I ever have!” or “Earned an A+ on my Newberry Honor diarama!”) several times each week, then mail the card at the end of the month. 
  • As your grandparents get to know what you are good at and what you enjoy, they will become better gift-givers. Best of all, you will get to know each other better! 

Honey

Honey