The adventures of grandpa as the driver for my thirteen year old granddaughter continue. Her family moved to Texas or Wyoming, I can never remember which, and she is staying with her Nana to finish out the school year. She was not ready to punch cows, and lasso boys. Anyway, my job is of after-school-driver. She usually exits the school with two of her friends and they chatter in my car as I drive them home. This was chronicled earlier here. I should note that each of the girls are honors students, they are polite, they are pleasant to be around – and they come from different economic stratus.
Today was special. The annual Middle School Science Fair was held at the local university. The three girls were participants. So today I was privileged with driving them to the science fair and picking them up afterwards. After the Science Fair last year we all went to lunch together – so it seemed appropriate today that I invite the girls to lunch – my treat. One of the girls, she talks like there will be no tomorrow, called her mother to be sure it was OK. I like that. Her mother approved, but insisted that the girl contribute her three dollars. That was nice, but unnecessary. The young lady insisted. My impression was that she does not know how to accept offers from others – There are more reasons for me to suspect this – but that is another story. Anyhow, we went to lunch a a local Asian buffet.
After lunch I drove the girls home. After dropping the first girl at her house, we continued on. The young lady with the three dollars asked my granddaughter if she could come over. “I don’t know,” came a rather sheepish response. My impression was that my granddaughter had had enough of her friends for one day. I continued toward the second drop off point.
“My mother is expecting me to spend the afternoon at your house. She doesn’t want me to be alone.”
“Well, you could stay at my house,” the young lady continued. And this is where the dialogue became a little confusing, “My mother does not want me alone in my house all afternoon and she thinks you are staying with me.”
Silence. I continued driving.
As we pulled up to the young lady’s house she said, “So do I get out here?”
“Yes, you get out here,” my granddaughter said plainly.
“OK, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I have no particular interest in any psychological evaluation of the lonesome girl – but I was fascinated with my granddaughter.
As we drove away I could not help myself – understand that my role is that of driver, not adviser. So I ventured on to the thin ice of talking to a teenager, I said, “Granddaughter, do you sometimes have a hard time saying no?”
There was not a blink of a second before she responded, “Yes.’
Her response and body language said to me, “YES – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?” Or at least I interpreted that to give myself permission to offer some thoughts.
“That is pretty common. None of us want to hurt the feelings of others. But it is important to be able to say ‘no’ because people will learn to trust what you say. They will actually respect you more if you are clear about what it is you want and don’t want. If you tell a friend ‘no’ they might initially be taken back – but a real friend will understand and respect you for your honesty. If the person just gets angry and carries the anger beyond a few seconds – then that person does not respect your wishes – they are not a real friend.”
She said nothing, but she was so deep in thought I could almost hear her wheels turning.
After I dropped her off I rehashed the conversation in the car. It strikes me that learning to say ‘yes’ is as important as learning to say ‘no.’ If people learn that we are honest and open with our feelings and desires they learn to believe us when we talk. The learn to respect us, to trust us, to believe us.
I am certainly interested in any ideas the readers might have on this topic – anything that I might pass on to my granddaughter. I think we are getting to know each other better as a result of thirty minutes in the car every day.
This is a good time in my life.