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March 15, 2006

Renee Triumphant

Last conference we had with Renee's teachers (actually Jean usually does these solo) we got bad news. She was hanging out exclusively with the boys in her class, and was excluded from the 'girly-girl' circles. She argued with her teachers, made faces, generally seemed to be having a hard time making the transition to the classical 'next stage'. What is worse, she was telling us everything was fine, just ducky folks. And of course, apparently unaware that we'd hear about it from her teachers...

So we sat her down and had a long talk. We've done that a number of times, and I was despairing of how to impress on her that she was building bad habits for life. This time, we talked earnestly, and I shared an anecdote from work.

It seems that a guy where I work, who is one of their top engineers, was as big of a jerk to everyone else as he was to me. He was combative, agressive and rude in almost every setting. Time passed, and I hadn't worked with him for several years. One day it became clear that I'd need to talk to him about some of his software, and I was quite reluctant to expose myself to such a prat. But I girded myself and went to see him. And he was nice! He was pleasant and helpful, took nearly two hours out of his day to try to nail down my problem. Not once was he in any way rude or snide. I just couldn't figure it out.

Anyway, much later, I was telling one of my work friends about it, and he shared this with me. It seems that the mystery guy was in a meeting with marketing and a couple of customers. When it was done, the marketing guy pulled him aside, and said, "you know, everyone thinks you're an ass." He was stunned. "Really?" He just didn't perceive his 'out front' style as insulting. The marketing guy laid it on the line, and told him that he could get so much more done if he'd just get his attitude under control.

Well, that explained what I had seen. He got this candid and unpleasant insight into how people saw him, and he decided to change it. And he acted.

So I told this story to Renee. I don't claim that this story was the main force for change. Jean also tried in a sincere and heartfelt way to impress on Renee that she was sabotaging her own life. Renee seemed to really listen (for a change). Then in the following days, Jean took Renee in hand, and they went shopping for 'girly-girl' clothes, and worked on hairstyles, and on and on.

Well, Jean got back from another teacher conference today (my excuse for not going this time is that I had a doctor's appointment), and the report was night and day. Renee scored at the extreme high end on state testing in literature, science and math. She has been regularly sitting with the 'girly-girls' during lunch. She talks with them, compliments them on their choice of clothes, and is even asking them out on movie dates. Her teachers were apparently near tears in their happiness with her transformation. She's not currently being combative, and doesn't roll her eyes when given a task she's not happy with. In short, she has remade herself.

So this evening, we entered collective bargaining with her to see what her reward would be. She's getting an extra half-hour on the computer (Neopets!!!) every Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and if her grades hold, a gameboy game.

Posted by dpwakefield at March 15, 2006 08:16 PM


What I think caused the change was when I told her she needed to play Shin Megami Tensei on her own, so she was prepared for the day she turns 18 / the locks on the house change. ;)

Posted by: Adam Goetz at March 16, 2006 07:49 AM

Certainly that had to be a factor! Your insight is exceeded only by your wit. ;^)~

Posted by: Don Wakefield at March 16, 2006 11:04 AM