While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On competitive parenting:
Dear Carolyn: I served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English. In my school the students were divided into three class groups — we'll say 1, 2 and 3. The 1’s were generally smart kids who were very focused on getting A’s. The 2’s were generally just as smart as the 1’s but not as focused on getting A’s and “winning.” The 2’s also tended to be more creative and well-rounded than the 1’s.
Once when I assigned the students a project to write a play, I found the stories of the 1’s to satisfy the project and get A’s but the plays of the 2’s were far more interesting/creative even if their English wasn’t as good as the 1’s. One group of 2’s even took a huge risk and did a spot-on send-up of me (the teacher). I have rarely laughed or applauded so hard and long as I did for that group!
The 3’s? Well, they were for the most part not as bright as the 1’s or 2’s but they were sweet, wonderful kids who I think, in the end, I liked the most.
On people who ask rude or intrusive questions:
Dear Carolyn: I’m an introvert, and have a hard time conversing with strangers or even acquaintances. I also happen to be very curious and have a terrible rude-question filter. Being told I’m being rude and walking away is devastating to me, after it took me a good half-hour just to come up with a conversation opener. I’m doing my best here, so how about a notification that it was too personal a question for a stranger, and a topic change?
While there may be people who are intentionally trying to get your goat, there are just as many of us who struggle with normal human interacting and are just trying as hard as we can.
And how about the opposite situation! I’ve not asked people about obvious deformities or scars or whatever, thinking it would be rude, and then they get offended that I didn’t ask! Can’t win.
Some sympathy, please