What Happens to the Real Me … When Boys Are Around?

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Hello, my awesome Tribelet of Mini-Women! Do you not LOVE the logo ASHER did for us for Tween YOU and Me? Let’s hear it for her and how amazing she is for always contributing her artwork, designed just for us.

ALL of you are so unique and gifted. One of the things I appreciate most about you is that you’re so willing to be yourselves here on the blog. For instance, last week I asked if and how you behave differently when boys are around and you were SO honest. You also surprised me.

THIRZAH said when boys are around she actually feels BETTER because unlike with her friends who are girls, she can have a real conversation about things that matter and not just fluff. (There ARE girls who can have real conversations — let’s talk in a future post about whether our current friends are the best ones for us.)

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ASHER said she’s more sarcastic and LESS serious with boys than with her girlfriends because boys aren’t offended as easily.

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HALLE BELLE said what makes her feel awkward around boys is whenever they or her friends think she likes one of them and she doesn’t. I’m glad we covered that in last week’s post!

ASHER added to her comment what I was expecting to hear, which is that if she doesn’t KNOW the boys she’s with or if they’re shy, THAT makes her feel “just plain awkward.” So let’s look at that —

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(1) That is so normal. So. Normal. We talked at the beginning of our series on ALCs (Absurd Little Creatures) about how boys are different and how funky that makes both genders feel. There is nothing WRONG with you if you feel a little uncomfortable around boys you don’t know. We’ve referred to this whole thing as “putting together the boy puzzle”. It IS a puzzle, one you’ll eventually figure out. If it doesn’t happen before you’re 13 (or later!) that is perfectly fine. I was 14 before I found one I was comfortable talking to. So relax.

(2) If a boy is shy, you’re actually in a better position to get a conversation starter, especially if you’re outgoing. That guy is going to be so grateful that you can pick a topic, ask draw-him-out questions and respond to whatever he does manage to say.He’s going to LOVE being around you. For that reason, boys who turned red up to the tips of their ears around most girls hung around me. Come to think of it, men like that still do, like at writer’s conferences. They sit at my table at meals and count on me to fill all those awkward silences. Sometimes being a jabber jaws comes in handy!

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(3)  The best way to get anybody talking and comfortable is to ask them questions you think they won’t mind answering — will actually WANT to answer. Find out what he’s interested in. If you know absolutely nothing about it, so much the better. You’ll have plenty of questions. Say he’s into video games and you’re clueless. You could ask, “I’ve never gotten why people play them. What’s cool about it for you?” If he’s into baseball, ask him who his fave team is and why — or say, “I’ve never watched a baseball game, but if I saw my first one, what are three things I’m going to need to know?”

(4) Then sit back and listen. Everybody likes to be listened to — and really heard.

Last week we said this would be our final post in the Boy Puzzle series, but a couple of you mentioned some other boy issues that I think apply to girls too. So next week we’re going to talk about what to do when the kids you get thrown in with (in your classes or at church or wherever) behave so badly you can’t stand to be around them, and yet you have no choice. How do you stop it or deal with it if you can’t?

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So if you want to post a comment this week, tell us if, like THIRZAH and ASHER (who brought this up), you have kids in your life who cuss, get into huge arguments, treat other people like dirt — that kind of thing.

And, of course, keep suggesting other topics you want to talk about in the future. So far we have (drum roll, please):

* when kids are too competitive 

* authenticity

 * serving as a Christian 

*witnessing

* body stuff

*are our current friends the best ones for us

TOTALLY feel free to vote for which one you’d like to start with. Tween You and Me belongs to all of us!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

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BFFs and Boys

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Hello, my wonderful Tribelet of Mini-Women! I’m so glad last week’s post on what to do about that boy who’s hard to love helped you. I love what ASHER said, that we need to ask ourselves, “Would I say that snarky thing I’m about to spit out if I were talking to Jesus?” Yeah, that pretty much shuts your mouth up tight!

This week we’re going to talk about another piece of the boy puzzle that’s hard to put into place. It’s what happens when the whole boy thing gets mixed up with the whole best friend thing.

Let’s look first at SARAH’S question: “What if your BFF ditches you because she’s so into boys — and you’re not?”

It’s the same thing that happens when the two of you have always played soccer together and she decides she’s done with sports. Or when one of you still wants to play with dolls and watch princess movies and the other’s more interested in music and clothes. People grow at different rates — they get into different things — and they drift apart. That’s the natural part of it.

What isn’t okay is when it gets ugly, and it sounds like it did for our Sarah. There’s no need to just dump your friends because suddenly boys are more interesting. Abruptly dropping somebody borders on mean, so of course you’re hurt.   And what do you do when a friend stabs you with her behavior?

(1) Tell her, when you aren’t upset and sobbing, that  you feel bad because of what she’s done. Give her a chance to apologize.

(2) Ask her if she wants to work it out between the two of you. Give her a chance to make amends.

(3) Even if she doesn’t seem sorry or want to fix your friendship, forgive her. That’s the other hard thing Jesus tells us to do.

Then you have a decision to make. Do you walk around in a funk because your BFF has chosen an ALC (Absurd Little Creature) over you? Or do you get yourself on the lookout for new friends, people who like what you like and appreciate you no matter what gender you are?

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And about you forgiving her: absolutely do that, because she’s eventually going to figure out that she needs a friend who’s a girl, out there in that confusing boy world. She might need YOU.

THIRZAH brought us another question about friends and boys. “What do you do when your friends want to play matchmaker?”

You know … they pressure you into telling a boy you like him (and then he runs like he’s being chased by a pack of dogs) . . . or they tell you a boy likes you and insist that you like him back (like you can control who you like and who you don’t) .. or they try to do a makeover on you so boys will notice you because they think you “need” a boyfriend (as if anybody does in middle school).

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Your first instinct might be to tell them to back OFF! You’re not entirely wrong. Tone that down a little and you’ve got it:

“I’m really not into guys that much yet. But I AM into movies. Anybody want to come over and do a Pixar marathon at my house Saturday?”

“I like Max as a friend but that’s it. So can we just take the word ‘boyfriend’ out of our vocabulary?”

“Guys, seriously, I’m fine with the way I look. What I want to change is the subject!”

Be kind but firm. Keep your sense of humor but let them know you’re serious. Suggest another topic. Don’t lose it, and don’t give in. It’s okay not to want to get all into the guy thing yet just because your friends are. Do you all eat the same thing for lunch? I rest my case.

Speaking of resting my case — wrapping up — moving on — we have one more post about the whole boy thing. Next week we’ll talk about what to do if you feel shy, awkward, goofy or just plain ridiculous around boys. So if you want to comment, tell us about THAT. How DO you feel when there are boys around? Do you act differently from your usual?  What is it that makes you do that?

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And after that  — I haven’t decided yet. What would YOU like to talk about next here on Tween You and Me? DO tell!

Blessings, Nancy Rue

Another Piece of the Boy Puzzle

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Hellooooo my wonderful Tribelet of Mini-Women! It’s AWESOME to be back with you. I love, love, LOVED reading your comments, so thank you, ASHER, MARYBETH, ANNIE (WELCOME!)  KEILAH, EVE, MEDOMFO and GRACE. You’ve given me even MORE questions to post about. Yes!

Let’s look first at some of your thoughts on the boy-butterfly feelings we talked about last time we were together.  You’ve discovered that some boys could possibly be cool — maybe they’re even friend material. A few of you have noticed the occasional cute one (though still an ALC) . Others, you pointed out, can be nice temporarily (when they’re not swearing and arguing with each other) One of you has had a crush on somebody for a while now …

Most of you who are experiencing that are content to push aside the romantic feelings (which we decided last time are pretty pointless right now) and enjoy the friendships. You know, talk about stuff you have in common, that kind of thing. Perfect. Keep doing that. Ashers next boyy drawing

In her amazing drawing, ASHER shows us what that can look like (this is Ginger from You Can’t Sit With Us and her guy friend Colin)

Still, a lot of tween boys are still, well, I’ll let you tell it:

“Most boys I know at school swear and do other deplorable things, so they pretty much disgust me.”

“Some boys can be so rude and clearly don’t have Jesus in their lives.” boys fighting

THIRZAH poses the question that arises when it comes to those boys who are still attached to their absurd little creature-ness:

    “What if a boy wants to be friends with you but you don’t even want to be around him?” What should you do without hurting his feelings?” bratty boy

That’s a tough one. It’s one of those times when you kind of wish you hadn’t promised God to love your neighbor as yourself. Right? Of course,  Jesus did say you’re not going to get an extra star in your crown in heaven because you loved the people it was easy to love. He clearly said to love your enemies … and sometimes it seems like that nose-picking, arm-pit pumping kid is out to drive you right OUT of heaven. girl angel

So what do you do? I have some suggestions:

(1) Don’t treat him like he’s Mr. Stinkbomb and you can’t wait to get away from him. Would you do that to a GIRL that wanted to be friends and she just wasn’t your type? Saying “Get away from me!” or rolling your eyes at him or holding your nose when he passes is NOT what Jesus meant by loving. Just sayin’.

(2) Be polite without being fake. Is it going to hurt you to say hi when he speaks to you? Or wave back when he waves or smile if he grins at you? That might seem like you’re encouraging him, but it’s probably all he wants. Think back to our previous posts where we talked about boys being behind girls socially. They aren’t thinking romance when they ask how you did on the math test. This poor kid with the bad dental hygiene (or whatever it is that turns you off) is more than likely not going to think you’re his girlfriend if you say hello to him.

(3)  If he follows you around or calls you at home or plops himself down next to you at church or the lunch table, it’s okay to say something super polite like, “So, Sam, can I help you with something? I’m kind of busy at the moment …”

Here’s the deal: if you stop thinking of him as a bad smell you want to get rid of and think of him as a person who has the good taste to want to be your friend, you’ll stop gritting your teeth every time he comes around. You don’t have to be best buds, but you can quietly and nicely let him know he isn’t heinous. He probably has plenty of people telling him he is. Don’t be one of them.

If you want to comment this week, tell us (a) if you have a boy in your world who wants to be friends and you don’t and (b) if any of these suggestions sound like they might work for you. 

It’s also okay to tell us how HARD it is … because Jesus never said treating people like he did was an easy gig. Good thing he hangs out with us, right? I’m glad YOU do!

Blessings, Nancy Rue

Piece 4 of the Boy Puzzle

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Hellooooo, Tribelet of Mini-Women! I was all worried about not posting for a couple of weeks, but, of course I didn’t need to be, because :

     (A) First of all, Jesus said not to worry about anything, so there’s that.

    (B) You were your usual patient selves. Thank you.

    (C) You all shared with each other that you’ve been super busy and haven’t been able to check in anyway!

Let’s get back on track, though, shall we? We’ve been talking about those sometimes absurd little creatures — that is, boys — and this is the time of year when the whole boy thing is suddenly in your face.  In other words, it’s spring …

spring loveWho knows why, but in spring, with everything coming to life, boy-girl feelings start to bud too. We’re not talking about the dating kind of boy-thing here (what are you, 10? 11, ? 12? Really?). But I don’t think we can ignore the fact that around this season of the year and of your life, an attraction to the other gender starts to peek out. Unexpectedly. Catching you off guard. Just when you’ve made a decision that all boys are ridiculous and you’re having nothing to do with them, one suddenly strikes you as cute.

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One smiles at you without delivering a punch line and you feel your cheeks turning pink. One looks at you like you’re something other than a space alien and you like it. Yeah, we need to talk about that.

PUZZLE PIECE A: If you aren’t having those feelings yet, that’s perfectly normal. Don’t think you “should” be noticing boys in a different way right now. We all come to that at different times. But still read on, because it will happen!

PUZZLE PIECE B: If you ARE having those feelings, that is absolutely 100% normal. Your mom (and more likely your dad) may say you’re too young, and I think what they really mean is that you’re too young to act on it. They are totally right. But nobody’s going to say you’re too young to have your period or develop breast buds when it’s already happening, and this is just as much a part of that whole puberty deal.

PUZZLE PIECE C:  Why, you may ask, does God build these feelings into our growing-up way before we’re old enough to date and get married? I can’t claim to know exactly why God does anything because God is, well, God. What I’ve learned — my best answer for you — is that way back when, it was necessary for girls to marry very young and start having children just to keep the world going. Many children died early so you had to have a lot of them. And it took a big family to grow the food and keep everybody alive. Besides that, it used to be that girls didn’t reach puberty (and have these boys-aren’t-so-bad feelings) until around age 14, not long before marrying age of 16 or 17. Now, girls usually begin puberty around age 9, and don’t marry until they’re in their twenties. That’s a LONG time to have to deal with being attracted to boys before everybody grows up enough to start a family. And that’s why it’s important to sort out these feelings and understand them when they first start fluttering. YOU ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO ASK YOUR QUESTIONS.

PUZZLE PIECE D: So what do you do with those thoughts of , ‘He’s kind of cute’ and ‘I like the way he just said hi.’? I’m not going to say “Do nothing,” because that’s like saying, “Deny them. Stuff them down. Tell yourself they’re wrong.” There ARE things you can do. Healthy things. Good things. Godly things. Here they are:

     * Observe your thoughts and feelings. What is it that makes you giggle around a boy who’s not an absurd little creature? Who are the ones you don’t want to flush down the toilet any more? You’re figuring out what makes a good guy. You’re separating the ones you don’t want to be around right now from the ones who are already growing up to be awesome. Good skill to have.

    * Discover whether you just want to admire from afar (you can’t imagine talking to this crush-boy) or you’d like to be his friend. Those are your only two options right now. Being boyfriend and girlfriend at this point doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Go out? Where are you going to go? You’ll save yourself a lot of hurt feelings if you don’t even think you could be a couple. Nobody is ready for that in middle school. Seriously. Nobody. So, again, either enjoy seeing him become a not-so-awful boy or make friends with him (some of our previous posts can help you there)

   * Let boy-thoughts be just a minor part of your whole life. This is the time to figure out who YOU are — separate you — unique you — who doesn’t need anybody’s opinion (including a boy’s) to tell her who she is. Explore you. Discover yourself. Then all kinds of friends will come your way, because there is nothing more attractive than a person who is truly authentic.

   * And how are you going to do all that? That’s why you got God. It’s more important than ever now for you to write in that Talking To God Journal as much as you can.

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  Talk to God about your feelings. Ask who God would like for you to be friends with. Tell God your questions. Jesus said ask and you’ll get answers. Seems pretty simple, yes?

You can also find answers here, so if you’d like to comment this week, tell us: what kinds of feelings about boys are fluttering around like butterflies in your spirit these days? Remember, we all get there at our own pace, so if you still think they’re right up there with Brussels sprouts for dinner, it’s perfectly normal to say that. The only we don’t say here on Wednesdays With Nancy is: you SHOULDN’T feel that way. Feelings give us a lot of information, and that’s how I know what to say to help you.

Meanwhile, I’m praying for you. This can be way fun — and it can also be the most confusing thing since learning fractions. Good thing we’ve got God and the Tribelet!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue