When we have worry or hurt in our heart it is good to talk about it. I think you know what you need to do now
Hi, I’m Shaindel.
I’m 14 years old and I’m in eighth grade.
Every year since we were ten years old, the girls in my class have been making a Chanukah party. I’m not a hundred percent sure who came up with this idea, but it’s fun and cute and everyone’s always excited about it. Everyone goes and we all have a great time. Girls take turns hosting and coming up with games to play and prizes to raffle off, like a ten-dollar gift card to Sephora or a free blowout at the hair salon. The grand prize is usually some sort of jewelry. But it’s not all about the prizes. It’s nice to hang out with everyone as a group, to feel included and involved. We’re not all best friends but the atmosphere isn’t awkward at all; it’s pleasant and friendly. Except this year it probably won’t be. I had a really uncomfortable thing happen with a girl in my class named Tzippy. And now she’s hosting the Chanukah party. I’ll explain what happened. Tzippy and I are in the same carpool. She gets picked up right after me and my sister Chavi. We usually wait a minimum of eight minutes for her and are almost always late to school because of it. Chavi goes crazy from this. She’s very punctual and hates having latenesses on her attendance record. She tried asking the driver to come earlier but he said he can’t. Then she nicely asked Tzippy to please start being on time, and Tzippy said she’d do her best. Long story short, she’s still about ten minutes late every morning and Chavi has had it.
A week or two ago, when Chavi was pressured to get to school because she wanted time to ask her teacher something about an assignment before she handed it in, she lost it and lashed out at Tzippy when she got into the car 11 minutes late.
She spoke to her very angrily and I’m sure Tzippy was mortified. The rest of us girls in the carpool tried to pretend we didn’t notice, but it was kind of impossible with all of us squashed side by side in a minivan. Chavi said that it was really selfish of Tzippy to keep six girls waiting every morning, making us all late for school. She told her she was going make sure she was kicked out of the carpool if she didn’t start coming out on time. The rest of the ride passed in severely awkward silence and when we got to school, both Chavi and Tzippy stormed out.
Since that morning, Tzippy’s been freezing me out. She won’t look at Chavi or me and I keep telling Chavi she has to apologize, but Chavi refuses. Chavi doesn’t seem to realize that she’s making my position so uncomfortable because Tzippy’s in my class. It feels very uncomfortable to have someone ignore me.
Now the Chanukah party is in Tzippy’s house. Tzippy hasn’t told me I can’t or shouldn’t come, but I’m sure she doesn’t want me there. Should I just not go? I really don’t want to miss it, but I also don’t want to be there in this situation. Should I try to talk to her? I’m too embarrassed to confront her, but I know that if something doesn’t change, I’m probably going to chicken out of going to the party and I really don’t want that to happen.
Hi, my name is Tzippy.
I had a really embarrassing thing happen to me last week during morning carpool.
I’ve always had a hard time waking up in the morning. I’m not a morning person. Most mornings my mother drags me out of bed because the van is almost at my house. I usually stumble out of bed and yank on my uniform sweater while trying to eat a quick bowl of cereal with one hand. My mother tips the driver to wait for me because I’m late so often. Lucky for me, this driver doesn’t do any other runs after ours so he can afford to wait for me.
Most mornings no one says anything. But last week, a girl named Chavi screamed at me because I got into the van ten minutes late. She called me selfish and really humiliated me in front of the other girls, including her sister, Shaindel who is in my class. She said it was so unfair that I made everyone wait for me and I’d better start coming out on time or she was going to make sure I switched carpools.
Listen, I get it. I’m late and that may inconvenience you. But can’t you talk to me privately? You embarrass me in front of all the other girls and think that’s going to accomplish anything? All she accomplished was embarrassing me and now I won’t talk to her. Or Shaindel. I know Shaindel didn’t do anything and it was really her sister who lashed out, but why didn’t she say anything to me afterwards? Now I can’t look at either of them. And we’re in the same carpool. So, every morning the carpool is full of awkward silence and eyes that try not to make direct contact as we get in and out of the van. And then I’m with Shaindel all day. I just pretend she’s not in the room.
Even worse, I’m hosting our class’s Chanukah party this year. I feel like the awkwardness has built up so much that it’s going to be so hard to have Shaindel there and still have fun. I don’t want to spend the whole party pretending I don’t see her. And I don’t think I can do that anyway, because somehow I’ll end up looking at her or talking to her. I’m the host! It’s kind of unavoidable.
What should I do?
Ugh, it must be so uncomfortable and embarrassing to have a sister yell at your friend. I won’t speak about my sister in this column since she does read it, but sisters can definitely be embarrassing when you’re growing up. Of course at this point she’s my BFF and one day your sister will be yours, too.
There’s a famous joke that we can see someone’s true nature from kiso, ka’aso, and karpoolo. The midrash does say that we can see a person’s true nature when they get drunk, when they get angry, and how they spend their money — the joke is that you can see someone’s true nature from how they handle carpools, too.
In life, we are only responsible for our own actions and reactions. As much as we might feel embarrassed by someone close to us, his or her behavior is really not our responsibility.
In this case, I recognize that your uncomfortable feeling is related to your lack of response to your sister’s behavior and not the behavior itself. That’s very mature of you as that’s what we are held accountable for!
Tzippy is wrong for coming late and making everyone wait for her. I would venture to say that possibly it is also not correct on her mother’s part to ask the whole carpool to wait. However, as you well know, Chavi was wrong as well. Regardless of what happens, a person must always remain in control of their emotions and there is never an excuse to yell and scream at someone in public. When someone does make that mistake, you are correct in the assessment that they need to apologize and possibly rectify their error. The good news is that it’s never too late to make amends. The more time elapses, the more awkward it gets, but we can tolerate awkward moments even if we don’t love them.
Nothing is as rewarding as doing something difficult. Either call her on the phone and speak with her honestly, or write her a letter. Words from the heart will enter the heart. Just say simply, “I am so embarrassed for how my sister yelled at you and I am so sorry.” You can then change the topic and talk about something else so that you end the conversation with less awkwardness. Good luck!
Everybody has shortcomings that they need to work on but yours is one that is public knowledge and affects other people in your carpool, which is very hard and often embarrassing. Chavie yelled at you in public, which is not acceptable. On a logical level, you know it is not her sister Shaindel’s fault, but emotionally you are hurt and therefore you feel pain around her as well.
“Daagah b’lev ish yesichenah.” When we have worry or hurt in our heart it is good to talk about it. I think you know what you need to do now, but because it’s uncomfortable you prefer not to do it. Just have an open conversation with Shaindel. Express your pain and give her an opportunity to apologize.
It is well known that if a person is humiliated and they do not fight back and instead they forgive, they receive tremendous blessings from Hashem. Use this opportunity to daven for anything that you need and for help in all areas.
As a side point, there are ways to work on punctuality. Time management is a skill and like all other skills it can be learned and strengthened. One skill is called backwards planning. Work backwards and allocate the appropriate time needed with time cushions, extra time. For example if you need to be ready for nine o’clock then at 8:40 you should be eating breakfast and packing up the last minute things from your fridge. Since you need to be in the kitchen at 8:40, then at 8:30 you should be brushing your hair, 8:20 you should be waking up and brushing your teeth. An alarm clock should then be set for eight o’clock allowing you time to press snooze. It is also advisable to do whatever you can the night before. I worked hard on this skill as I was the one making the bus wait when I was in high school!
A great book that you can read for some additional ideas is Smart but Scattered for Teens by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare.
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 941)
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