Dear Annie: My school life is horrible. Don’t get me wrong. I have a great family and terrific friends, I’m on a fun volleyball team and in the school musical, but some of the kids in school make me want to die.
I pretend that I don’t hear the comments and insults people say behind my back, or the times someone will shove me into my locker while I’m trying to get my books. I don’t dare tell an administrator, because I’m scared of what these kids might do if they knew I tried to get them into trouble.
I usually bottle it all up inside of me, but lately it’s gotten to be more than I can handle. Please help me. I’m afraid that if things don’t get better soon, I’ll do something to myself that I’ll regret. — Scared and Fed Up Student
Dear Scared: Bullies tend to pick on kids they believe will not stand up for themselves. You need to report these kids to the principal, the school guidance counselor or to a sympathetic teacher. Don’t do it alone. Talk to your parents first and enlist their assistance. Let your friends know what you are doing and ask them to stand by you, for emotional as well as physical support.
Consider ways to combat the bullies by ignoring them or defusing their nastiness through humor and a more confident attitude. You also can check out some useful tips at kidshealth.org and safechild.org.
You sound like you have a lot going for you. Don’t let these immature bullies take control of your life.
Dear Annie: Every year, we plan an extended family vacation to the shore for Grandma’s birthday. We include my husband’s entire family and their children.
The problem is always his older sister’s family. Sis and her husband are both working professionals, but somehow they are always short on money. The first time, they stiffed us on their share of the rent. The second time, we all paid the rent upfront and asked everyone to bring groceries. Sis and her husband brought a bag of rotten peaches and a gallon of apple juice. The third time, we said, “Every family is responsible for its own accommodations.” His sister complained constantly about the expense, and the husband drank heavily.
Their son is surly and has no respect for other people’s belongings. The daughter is a spoiled brat. She showed up at our place every night at dinnertime and expected an invitation. We went along with it for two days, but on the third day, I told her we were busy and sent her home. Sis ran straight to Grandma, upsetting her terribly by crying that I was excluding her daughter from family activities.
I love celebrating Grandma’s birthday with the entire family, but my stomach is already in knots contemplating this next trip. What can I do? — Aunt Anticipation
Dear Aunt: You cannot make Sis and her family better travel companions, so ignore them. Participate in the activities you enjoy, and if Sis or one of her children intrude on your personal time, do exactly what you did before — send them home. Be as tolerant as possible, but you don’t have to humor Grandma to the point of being mistreated. If she chooses to become upset, don’t get into an argument. Simply say, “Sorry, but we need a little privacy.” Repeat as needed.
Dear Annie: “Ain’t Sure in the Pacific” asked if his girlfriend’s poor grammar is a good reason to think twice about getting serious. It is. I still cringe when my husband says things like, “I knowed it,” and he doesn’t appreciate being corrected. His poor grammar gets passed on to the children, too. — Should Have Been Wiser
Dear Wiser: Don’t give up on the kids. Explain to them why their speech patterns matter, and correct them. Maybe some of it will rub off on Dad.
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