Wednesday, 22 July 2020

This topic has sparked enough emotion with diehards on all sides

Either with a kiss or say you need to go and get their number. When I got to the end of the list, my wingman leaned over to my side of the table. See that woman sitting at the opposite table? Yes, why? She's been listening to you. She looks horrified, he said, laughing. Oh, shit! I felt ashamed and changed topic. Houston is only a little over an hour away, but for my mom it must be like driving to New York City. She said they might stop off in Conroe on the way back and have lunch. But it's better than okay. Now I don't have to explain myself to anyone. I have the whole house to myself. She said to be sure and watch the cat. Raylene shakes her finger at Stu and he glares back at her. Do not leave him alone to tear up anything in the house. I know, I know, I sigh. At the very least, I hope I make alternate, Raylene says, changing the subject in her way. If your problem has spun out of control, research ways you can get help. If it involves another person, formulate a plan to fix a broken window between you.

TEAR OFF LABELS ROCK BOTTOM RESILIENCE BOOSTER #5 I've been writing this article with my colleague, Kristin McQuivey. While we were working on Rock Bottom Resilience material, I shared a story with her that really struck a nerve, as she had a son the same age as the boy in the story. I asked her to retell that story from her point of view. I am the mother of a fourteen-year-old boy. The middle school years are tough! This year, my usually fun, happy-go-lucky son suddenly became a sullen, silent, and grouchy teenager who spends the great majority of his time in the basement playing Halo. Soon after, it started raining heavily, and everyone disappeared. I convinced my wingman we should go somewhere else. I know the perfect place, he said. About half an hour later, he led me into a neighborhood pub in North London. It was quite a contrast to our previous hunting ground. It was the kind of place that appealed to old men who wanted to drink alone and young people who wanted to hide. But my initial disappointment lifted when I noticed that there were a few groups of women scattered around the pub. We sat at the bar, ordered a beer, and talked for a while. A couple of pints later, I had amassed enough courage to make my first attempt at approaching the targets: a group of women in their thirties and forties. I opened with a question I had prepared earlier: I'm doing some research on tattoos--do any of you have one? I suddenly remember the whole point of this cat-babysitting thing -- the twirling thingy. Me, too, I say, and then, because I can't stop myself, Is that what you're going to wear?

What's wrong with it? What do I know about what twirlers are supposed to look like? This might be just the right outfit. I kind of doubt it though. And that teased-up bump of a hairdo has got to go. Maybe you could do something different with your hair? Maybe a fishtail braid on the side? And then I say something that surprises even me. Suddenly he is incredibly sensitive and his normal swagger has turned to insecurity. Eighth grade is a dog-eat-dog world, and I don't think anyone escapes unscathed. When I heard Christian tell the story of another fourteen-year-old boy he had worked with as a therapist, it really affected the way I try to reach my own son. Christian had been assigned an especially tough case. This boy had been assaulting kids at school and was really angry. He was expressing suicidal thoughts and was on round-the-clock watch to keep him from hurting himself. His mother was beside herself. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to watch her struggling son do things that were ruining his life through his eighth-grade year. During one of their first meetings, Christian sat down with him and walked him through an exercise called Tear Off Your Labels from the WhyTry Program. He gave him a worksheet with illustrations of three soup cans. There was no alpha male to focus on, so I turned my attention to the alpha female. The question seemed to spark some interest.

Some of them had tattoos; Having opened the group, it was time to establish rapport. They were friendly but made it clear that they weren't that interested, so I ejected and returned to the bar. My wingman laughed at me. I told him that as my wingman, he was supposed to be supportive, not mock me. I drew up the courage to approach the next group of women. This time, they were much more attractive and much younger. None of them were interested in my tattoo question. I could do it if you want. Raylene looks shocked, but then a slow grin spreads across her face. She nods slowly. Stu lets out a yowl of frustration as I push him off to the side and swing my legs off of the bed. My own reflection in the dresser mirror is depressing. I pick up a brush and try to pull it through the tangled mess of my morning hair, then give up. I'll deal with it later. Sit on the floor in front of me, I tell Raylene, and wait while she gets settled cross-legged on the carpet. It takes fifteen minutes to brush out her ratted-up bump and complete an intricate braid down one side of her shoulder. All the while, Raylene eats Snickers that somehow magically appear from some pocket, and screeches periodically that I'm pulling her hair. Two of the cans have negative words written on them, things like delinquent, liar, lazy, and attitude problem. He had the boy circle all the words that he thought applied to him.

This boy just drew a big, fat circle around both cans and all the words. But there's a third can on the article. The label at the top of this can says, The Real Me. He told the boy that they were going to fill up the can with his strengths. Christian had noticed that the boy's backpack had some cool writing on it that looked like an Old English font. He thought maybe he could get the kid's attention if he wrote down the words on the can in the same way as the words on his backpack were written. So they started talking about things the boy was good at. They started out slowly (positive words are so much harder for a teenager to come up with than negative! I walked away after about three minutes of monosyllabic answers. I looked into my beer, defeated. My wingman cruelly laughed at me again. But then a woman from the first group came over to us. She was by far the most attractive. She seemed genuinely interested and stayed talking with us for about twenty minutes. Perhaps ignoring her had worked. After she left, I looked at the guy behind the counter. He was wearing the kind of cut-off jean shorts that were popular with German hikers. He was pumping his body up and down to the music, like a ten-year-old girl with a new pole-dancing kit. Stu watches it all from the top of my dresser like he couldn't possibly be more disgusted. It's beautiful, Raylene says finally as we both survey my hard work in the mirror.

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