Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thank You

Considering all that is going on in the world right now, I truly appreciate the time everyone spent to help me with my teensy-weensy little "problem."

There were so many different opinions, but all sincere and I guess it makes me realize there really is no one "right" way to do this, although some ways are more mature than others (like my not answering her calls).

I had a message waiting from her tonight. She said she was starting to get concerned that I had fallen off the face of the earth. I returned her call and left a lame-ass voicemail like a big girl.

Your advice did help me answer some bigger questions, though. Perhaps most important is, "Do I care to salvage this friendship?" And I've had a long time to mull it over (I think since Tuesday, right?) and I think we're just not a good fit.

Another example: She constantly puts down her step-daughter to me, and I almost fell out of my chair the last time we talked when she said, "Abby is just such a selfish child." And it was after that conversation I stopped returning her calls. I had heard iterations of this before but nothing quite so bold and my response in the past has always been, "She's 13. It's in her job description" or, "She's a child and you're expecting adult things from her that she can't developmentally perform. You're not calling your baby 'stupid' because he can't hold his head up yet, right?" (Well, okay, I didn't say that last part about the baby).

In the past 2 years, I've started to feel like a broken record, "She's the child; you're the adult. Joe's her father; they're not peers. This is such a tough age." And on and on and on. I think I realized in that conversation that she is who she is. And I don't think she'll change.

Momentary aside: I do not pretend for one second that I actually know jack shit about parenting. I have other friends who are stepparents and all I can say is that it looks like about the hardest, most thankless (or second most thankless after "mom" but I guess that depends on who you're talking to) job in the world, right up there with garbage collector and meat-packing employee except there is no pay and the benefits are horrible. However, I cannot listen to someone talk trash about a child who is pretty much a hapless victim in a rotten situation and agree that yes, she's pretty dumb and of course, your husband/her father will NOT pay for her college because why bother? Oh, and aren't you a saint for throwing her a birthday party and yet you can't believe that you have to remind her EVERY morning to make her bed. She's a complete nightmare. Can you imagine? A child who has to be nagged constantly to do the simplest of things? (Her kids - perfect, of course - are 3 years and 11 months.)

Wait, where was I? I guess that was bothering me more than I thought it was.

Anyway, I've not come to any firm conclusions except as someone smarter than me once said, "The easiest thing to do isn't always the right thing and the right thing isn't always the easiest." Or something.



Blogger Karen said...

I broke up with friends once. I did the more and more time between contact thing. It was about 5 or 6 years ago and it still bothers them. I know because every few years or so I will get an email from them asking me directly what happened. It will be embedded in some chit chat, though, so I respond to the chit chat and never answer that question directly. I don't want to nitpick now - 5 years later. I even ran into one of them (they are a married couple) just last month or so - the first time since the 'break up'. It was nice to catch up but then she emailed me and wanted to get together 'just like old times' - um - no thanks! Again, I replied that it was nice to see her too, blah blah, skillfully avoiding the get together part. I got a nasty email back (as always) and I just let it drop.
I have another friend who I want to 'break up' with at times, but I work with her, so that's really awkward!
It's harder to break up with a friend than a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, I think. Good luck with whatever you decided to do.

October 25, 2007 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish i knew what to say to help. i am currently trying to figure out a way to respond to a friend i thought was no longer my friend but who now wants to patch things up. how do you say, in a nice way, i don't want to be your friend? still. anyway, good luck!

October 25, 2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Being both a mom and a "step mom", I can honestly say that step-parenting is the harder of the two.

Being mom, there is that small piece of love that children hold out for you, and you for them. They might piss you off and vice versa, but you are connected by blood.

Being a step parent does not give you that bond. Often the child, especially if older, harbors some resentment towards you that never goes away, no matter how much love and kindness you show them.

I wish I had more advice in the breaking up with a friend department.

October 26, 2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger Denever said...

The blunt way, which can be gentled down a little, would be something like:

"You know how I having been saying for the past 2 years that you're being too hard on your step-daughter? That matters to me because I sympathize with the child, not with you.

"You know how you constantly make snide comments about Mr. J and our lack of travel? That matters, too, because it's really unkind and it ignores the differences between what you value and what *we* value.

"You know how you take it for granted that I'm always free to babysit? That matters, because like most human beings, I don't like being taken for granted. It makes me feel bad.

"And you know the 'call me back ASAP' voicemails? Yeah, same thing.

"So that's why I've been ducking your calls. I'm not proud of it, but that's what I've been doing because I dreaded having this conversation.

"But more and more I don't know we're friends, and I think that means we're not, so I wish you and yours well and now it's time for us to go our separate ways."

October 26, 2007 6:50 PM  

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