School Friends (11/08/06)

Dearest Zelda,

I'm in the sixth grade and eleven years old. I have a friend who isn't too nice. She messes up my hair, lies to me, and makes me feel bad. She also makes up things so that everyone thinks she's so great and compares us all the time. I try to make her stop, but so far she thinks I'm kidding and continues it. One more thing is that she gets all the guys! It's like she's living a perfect life even if most of it is made up. How do I make myself feel better and learn to ignore her lying and cruelty?

Feeling Un-Flawless

Dear Feeling Un-Flawless,

According to the dictionary, a friend is a person you know, like and trust. That all sounds pretty good to me, but guess what? ... your "friend" just doesn't make the grade! In fact, it sounds like she gets an "F" in friendship. Sure, you may know her, but do you like her? No way!  And do you trust her? Not a chance! The last "friend" I had who lied to me, made me feel bad, and messed with my fur wasn't a friend for long. You need to look for a friend who will be the sunshine of your life, not the rain on your parade.

Everyone in the world needs friends.  They're one of the most important parts of life, and part of growing up is learning how to make and keep good friendships that will last a lifetime. But one of the secrets to making good friends is NOT making bad ones, and what's even harder is recognizing when a friendship you thought was good is actually bad. You need to choose your friends wisely, and in this case, the path is clear: you will feel better when you distance yourself from this girl. She sounds like a bully and she will probably continue to mistreat you and take your kindness and generosity for granted. My guess is that all those guys will see through her lies sooner or later, and that you'll find there are lots of smart, cute boys who'll like you and appreciate what a good person you are. It may not be tomorrow, but hey, at eleven I'd say you've got plenty of time yet to start worrying about guys.

As hard as it is, I'd try not to take your friend's behavior too personally. Middle school can be tough, and it's a time of big transitions: socially, personally, and emotionally there are a lot of changes to deal with, and all this shuffling and positioning can bring out the mean and petty sides in everyone. Why? Because they're scared too, probably TEN times more scared than you, and believe it or not, they probably feel a HUNDRED times more un-flawless than you. That's why they have to tell all those lies! So the next time your friend is telling fibs or trying to put you down, just politely end the conversation and walk away, and try to remember how scared she must feel to need to act that way. Hold firm to your values and look for a friend who does the same. A good friendship is priceless, not painful, and a good friend will always be there for you. To me, you sound like someone I'd sure like for a friend.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

My friends at school pick my other friends first and I am picked last for outside games. I'm eleven years old and I don't like being picked last. It's no fun, and it's hard on me to be picked last. Do you know how to help me?

Middle School Last Lad

Dear Middle School Last Lad,

First off, let me say that I know just how you feel. When I tried out for the doggy agility team I was always chosen last too! It turns out we bulldogs aren't really designed for leaping over tall hurdles. Still, I felt embarrassed and hurt! Being chosen last is a really bad feeling, and those kind of competitive games often make us average players feel left out. Sometimes they just feel like big popularity contests. But know this: even though it feels like you're all alone out there as the last one picked, we've ALL been there in our lives, and it happens to EVERYONE. Welcome to the club!

Today, teaching competitive games in schools is becoming more and more "uncool," and many schools are turning to non-competitive and non-selective games and activities to teach teamwork. When we play with one another rather than against one another it's generally a lot more fun, and in the process we learn to work together. But it sounds like your school may be a little bit, well, old-school, so what's a guy to do?

First I'd talk with your parents and/or your teacher and tell them how you feel about being picked last. Make them aware of the problem and then share some of my solutions. There are a couple of good books your teacher(s) might find helpful: Everybody Wins: 393 Non-Competitive Games for Young Children by Jeffrey Sobel and Everybody Wins: Cooperative Games and Activities by Sambhava Luvmour. These two books offer non-competitive games that are easy for teachers to understand and implement. If your school wants to continue competitive outside games, or if you don't feel comfortable asking them, you might also talk to your teacher (or have your parents talk to your teacher) about other ways to select teams where no one is chosen last. For example you can choose teams by pulling numbers out of a hat, by the first letters of your last name, or just by flipping a coin! There's always going to be some competition in the world, but sometimes it's nice to just run around and play and not worry about all that stuff!

Don't let the picking order get you down too much. Remember, everyone has gone through this at some point in their lives! And here at team Zelda, you're our first pick!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

My young dog has been shedding terribly and having a lot of dandruff and itching problems. His skin seems super dry and he seems to be miserable. I haven't been able to find a solution to relieve his discomfort. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks,

Itchy Situation

Dear Itchy Situation,

Skin problems haunt both humans and canines: even a simple pimple drives me into doggy distress, especially if it's before a photo shoot. As everyone knows, I’m pretty happy in my own skin, but it helps when that skin is clean, comfortable, and flake-free! I won't name names, but let's just say that some of the dogs around the house here definitely share your dandruff and itching problems. I know things are bad when we're doing a bikini photo shoot in July and it starts looking like Christmas! Fortunately, we've got a simple solution that seems to work well, and we might suggest you try the same. If your dog's problem isn't extreme, you might first try a home remedy that has worked for ZeeZee (oh did I let that slip?) and some of my other canine friends.  Someone once told us to try using Selsun Blue with aloe (the blue bottle with the green lid) when we shampoo. The results that I've seen have been downright amazing, and the scratching and flaking has disappeared. Our skin has never been in better condition, and with it our dandruff and our itchy bitchy problems have, well, flaked off.

However, if your young dog's problems are severe, if they persist, or if the shampooing bothers him,  then you need to you call your vet or a professional dog dermatologist. Your pooch's problem may be more than skin-deep.

Zelda