Hi, Carolyn: I have a friend who just recently began dating and letting loose (we are 30). She’s now acting like an 18-year-old who doesn’t understand that you don’t change who you are to fit the guy. She plays mind games, constantly asks me for advice on “what to say to a guy” and generally reminds me of myself in the first few years of dating.
I love her, but I’ve outgrown all the drama. Do I tell her to stop talking about her relationships with me? Cut the friendship? She’s exhausting and I wonder if I exhausted my parents this way.
Old Friend: It’s easy for me to say, but, why not be patient with her? She didn’t have her 18 at 18, for whatever reason — and especially if it’s a reason that warrants compassion, it seems as if a little deep breathing can get you (and her) through to a comfortable, mutual 32.
One way to stay out of the drama in the meantime is to answer her questions maturely:
What to say to a guy? “Be honest about yourself and what you believe — it’s always better than guessing what he wants or playing games to get what you want.”
What does the guy want? “He wants to know who you are, so be yourself, and hope he does you the same favor.” Patiently remind her to be patient with the sorting-out process.
As usual, this is for when she asks. When she doesn’t ask, and when you’re weary of her man-ologuing, your best bet is to steer the conversation elsewhere . . . up to and including, “Okay if we talk about something else?” You don’t even have to be smooth.
Dear Carolyn: Yesterday my 4-year-old daughter gave a few of her dolls (Merida, Elsa and a couple of other Disney types) haircuts and miniskirts. The dolls were all gifts, so I have no idea how expensive they were, but these weren’t family heirlooms or collectors’ dolls or anything. She said she was “making them pretty.”
As someone who was teased a lot as a kid for having short “boys’” hair, I was pretty happy that she thought Disney princesses could look pretty with near-buzz cuts. She also did a surprisingly careful job trimming their evening gowns into something a normal person might wear.
Anyway, I thought, hey, well done, no need to conform to standards of princess-movie beauty.
When our kids outgrow things, we donate them, and it occurred to me later that I’d feel bad about dropping off a (conventionally speaking) butchered princess doll.
So, I’m curious: Do you teach kids that restyling toys however they choose is a great way to express their own creativity, or that it would be really nice to share Merida with someone else at some point, so maybe we should try to keep her healthy? Is there a garbage dump somewhere packed with naked and shorn Disney princesses?
Merida Gets a Haircut
Merida Gets a Haircut: Oh, my goodness, no, don’t preserve the dolls for future donation. Your kid is being creative and engaged, which is the whole point of a toy.
The time to step in is when a child (one old enough to know better) is inflicting careless vs. creative damage. You’ll know the difference.