Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Handling Adult Brats – Discipline or Disregard?

Lately, I’ve encountered a rash of grown-ups behaving really badly and I found myself in a position to either ignore them or speak up.  Being a woman of words, I chose to say something.  At the time, I was not completely sure of what I thought might happen and in retrospect, I suppose I was hoping they’d either apologize or perhaps choose better behavior in the future.  After all, isn’t that what we would do if a child behaved like a brat?Mug BLACK copy

Since you have a discerning nature, seem to like conversation about the world and often have excellent opinions about Right & Wrong — I’m going to run just two of these stories past you, in the event that you think “Ignore” was my better choice (despite the fact that the brat is already out of the barn).  I may be old, but I can be taught and maybe I’ll choose a different course in the future.

B#1:  At the memorial of someone who was his employer, friend and honorary family member, B#1 decided that this very public forum was the perfect opportunity to tell an incendiary tale (of dubious authenticity) that left the deceased disrobed, distasteful and dotty – among other things, which I choose not to discuss out of respect for the departed.  Boorish and brazen, the speaker left the dais smiling from ear-to-ear because he said (and I quote), “It was funny!”  No.  It wasn’t.  It broke the widow’s heart and left his family members reeling and confused, since the speaker had always been considered something of an unofficial son and brother.  Six months have passed and he continues to express to anyone who will listen how funny he thought it was and insists that everyone else tells him it was funny, too.

Well, apparently everyone… except me.  When I last saw him I confronted him and told him that I thought he was (and I quote), “A jerk.”  I went on to say that his remarks might have been entertaining at a dinner party of six or a comedy Roast – but to tell that story at a memorial was rude, insensitive and hurtful.  I went on to say that the hearts closest to the man (someone he’d obviously thought enough of in life to make him Godfather to his children) were broken.

B#2: For some reason, this individual has a history of being dissatisfied with dinner parties.  Not that she has ever complained about the rubber chicken/assembly line food served to hundreds of attendees at past gatherings (charitable or social).  She has never ever griped about venues either, whether five star hotels or beach side cafes (it’s all good!).  No.  Over the years, her multiple beefs have had more to do with where she and her +1 are seated.  That, and she also has a history of not respecting the parameters of ironclad guest lists (i.e. when two are invited, she has shown up with four or five).  At a recent dinner party of mine – one with an expensive, confirmed guest list of 100 that grew to 132 despite my best efforts – she had informed me (four days before the event) that her Plus One was going to be a minus and asked if she could bring one of her adult children.  I said it was fine, actually thinking it would be lovely, because my adult daughter and her offspring have lived in parallel worlds for decades and have never ever even had a conversation.  So?  I placed the offspring at the same table and had B#2 seated next to my Maternal Unit, as both would be unaccompanied women, one because her husband had to work and the other because she was recently widowed.

Well, I found out later that it was believed I’d made a grievous mistake.  Wildly unhappy with this seating arrangement, B#2 chose to: A. Tar & feather me by proxy (and the sweet, patient event coordinator is still plucking residue off her hide); B. Tantrum publicly (to date, eight witnesses in all have reported back); C. Stamp some seriously high-heeled spangly feet; and then D. Storm off with a very vocal departure, leaving a trail of glitter on the ground behind her.

I felt badly that this was the reaction to my seating chart and I thought it was terribly unfortunate that she chose to leave, when my intentions were meant to be good, so I sent an email telling her so.

Neither individual has spoken / emailed / texted or communicated with me at any level since, but know that I am not a complete imbecile.  I fully understand that B#1 could be offended that I labeled him “A jerk.”  I tried to reach out to him after, because I wanted to apologize for my choice of words.  But, not my emotion.  I really felt that someone needed to stand up to him.  Truth be told, my 5’4” was no match for his 6’4” – but I did it anyway.  Ignoring the bad behavior wasn’t an option for me.

Whereas B#2 left me with two empty seats, a dinner bill for $300 and a pretty sizeable hole in my heart, I’ve chosen to not engage further (outside of my brief note to her), mostly because I feel it would only be fuel on a fire that I wish would go out.

On both accounts (and the other handful of stories I’ve left out), I question whether it was better to have said something or not.  Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but my heart wants to believe you can teach a grown brat new behavior – just don’t use the work “Jerk” too liberally.  It just makes you sound like a brat*.

It is… sometimes easier to head an institute for the study of child guidance than it is to turn one brat into a decent human being.” ~ Joseph Wood Krutch

To hold the same views at 40 as we held at 20 is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and taken rank, not as a prophet, but as a non-teachable brat, well birched and none the wiser.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

*But… hopefully, one who can be taught.

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