But that's not my issue.
Blondie is quite possibly the least mature nineteen year-old I've ever met. Snake and her mother dote on her, and do whatever they can to make her life easier. Blondie allows and even expects this treatment. "It's just who she is," Bear tells me. "She can't help it." Up to a point, I agree. Her childhood hasn't been the best and she has had to deal with some pretty bad things.
That's not my issue, either.
Okay, here's the part where I tell you what my issue is, with the help of a story or two to illustrate my point.
Snake, Bear and I were hanging out last night, and without Blondie there I felt free to voice some of my frustrations with her: that she can be really whiney, that she has to be the center of attention, that she can, at times, drive me crazy. Usually I don't mention things like this because either she's around or I get a lecture about how I'm "not trying" with her. The last time I got a lecture, I listened to what Bear and Snake said, thought about it, and changed my behavior. They were right: I hadn't been giving her a fair chance (in my defense, she is the same age as my students and that has been a huge hurdle to get past). Since that first lecture, I have made a consious effort to include her more, to direct more comments in her direction, to say nice things to her whenever I can. She absorbs compliments like a sponge. Even to the point of being disingenuous, I've been nice. I don't make any comments about her age, her high school status (other than to congratulate her on getting into college, etc.). I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Anyway, so I made a few comments about Blondie last night. After Snake left, Bear told me that I'd "gone too far," and was "bad mouthing Blondie." I was shocked! I'd said NOTHING that was untrue or exaggerated. Bear didn't see it that way, of course, and we had a bit of a tiff about it. "That's just how Blondie is," he said again. "You have to cut her some slack."
I have to say here that I have HAD IT with this line of argument! When I speak to Blondie, she does one of three things: She contradicts me, she one-ups me, or she ignores me. No one says anything to her. She's allowed to do it, because "it's just her way." Every olive branch I extend gets snapped up, chewed, and spit back out, rejected. I'm so sick of it. Bear and Snake rush to Blondie's defense, protecting her from anything negative.
"Poor Blondie," they say.
"It's not her fault."
"I hold you to a higher standard, Amalia."
"You're the grown up."
"Don't take it personally."
I do the best I can, truly I do. I give allowances for who she is, where she is in life, what she's been through. Every time she says something that upsets, hurts, or angers me, I forgive her, push my upset away, tell myself that I need to let it go.
I reached my limit last night. I turned to Bear and said, "You and Snake have Blondie wrapped in this little cocoon of safety. You always back her up, protect her, defend her. Who's defending me?" Some other points I made:
- Blondie can say whatever she wants to me (including references to my weight), but I can't reciprocate.
- I'm being held to a higher standard and am being assessed on how well I stick to it, while she has no standard at all.
- Nothing she says or does is ever her fault, but I'm to blame for any tensions in the group.
- I'm the one that has the problem, not her.
- Just because I'm a grown up, doesn't mean I don't have thin skin.
- If I hurt her, I need to change. If she hurts me, I'm over reacting and need to get over it.
- I'm not allowed to use the "it's just the way I am" excuse, but she can.
- She has NEVER given me a compliment. Ever.
- Bear and Snake don't defend me if she has something negative to say about me.
- I'm expected to turn myself inside out, shift my moral and ethical compass, but she can continue to be the way she has always been.
- This treatment, while on a cognitive level I understand it, is unfair and it hurts me.
This is a really long post, and I don't know if I've made any kind of coherent sense. I was in tears last night and I'm in tears again now just thinking about this topic. I've always hated injustice, and I especially hate it when I feel like I'm a victim of it. I do, too. I know it's selfish and "not grown up," but I still feel that way. I still want to be backed up, supported, defended once in a while, too.
Maybe that's just the way I am.