Thursday, September 24, 2009

Miss Cee's Institute of Subtly Successful Interpersonal Management

a.k.a. – “How to Be There Without Them Minding”

Greetings, gentle readers! I know, I know, it has been Far Too Long! Please accept my earnest apology for being Incommunicado for so long. Life here at the Circle H Ranch has been nothing if not hectic, even for moi!

But, don’t think you’ve all been far from my thoughts—far from it, as they say! In the interest of consistency, I try to take my own advice (from time to time) and so when I found myself in the situation described below, I instantly recognized it as a Serendipitous Teaching Opportunity to share with all of you!

Allow me to provide the context: My middle-older brother, Ben, and my only sister, Alina, both run on the cross-country team for their high school. [Here’s a mysterious sidenote: everyone on the team, including the Coach, RUN and RUN, but they never catch anything! I know! Even curiouser, they don’t even seem to be chasing anything! It’s like running—just for the sake of running. I’m pretty sure this is another one of those “you’ll understand when you get older” topics. I, myself, think it only makes sense to run when you’re after something that’s Really Worth Catching!]

ANYway, a couple of Fridays ago, the Team Dinner was held at our house. It was kind of awesome because there were lots of people, girls AND boys, and lots of food, including three jugs of chocolate milk!! There was eating, and laughing, and joking and eating, and then playing ‘Apples to Apples’ and goofing around. AND, Mom and Dad were kind of like the wait staff…which, it must be said, was fun to watch.

This is kind of funny, because-actually-Mom had been telling me that I was supposed to be The Helper who waited on the Guests. Now, THAT’s an idea…for someone else…

But, on to the subject at hand: navigating and negotiating your way through a social milieu without having to observe any pesky guidelines or boundaries that could (and, inevitably, do) get in the way of Smooth Social Swimming. For those of us who find ourselves at the younger end of the age spectrum, it is especially important to get the situation well in hand early along.

Bear in mind that the Ultimate Goal (elusive as it may sound) is that you will so completely melt into the fabric of the party that troublesome concepts such as “Bedtime” and “Hey, Where’s Your Little Sister?” do not register on anyone’s mental radar.

When finding yourself in a social situation such as described, the cardinal rule to keep in mind is to Not Draw Attention to Yourself. For some of us, this might seem contrary to nature, if not downright impossible. But, press on, and success will soon be in your sights.

As is the case with all worthy stories, there is a Dramatic Arc involved in this - the Unfolding Party for Older People that you want to insinuate yourself into. Begin with Diligent Observation. When the doorbell rings, be Jenny-on-the-Spot to answer it, dazzling guests with a warm welcome as you usher them in.

Even though it is going to be Really, Really Hard, try not to talk too much…just show them around and make sure they get whatever food, napkins, M&Ms, and chocolate milk that they want. You are There to Serve. Before you know it, they will subconsciously think you are Handy to have around, and not a dreaded Little Sibling Nuisance.

Be sure to mingle-mingle so that no one feels left out, and ALSO, so that no one notices you hanging around too much…;if you’re not very careful, someone—even a non-family member-- can get snarky and wonder aloud just why you are there at Party Central. [I know it seems unspeakably impertinent, but it has been known to happen.]

One little technique I’ve found to be effective is to slip away at odd moments and repair to your private space—both to take a breather, and to survey your closets and drawers: be on the look-out for any accessories or accoutrements that have the visual effect of making you seem Older Than You Are, and hence, more easily taken for a peer than a preschooler. In my case, a Cool Headband Scarf that my grandma got for me was quite effective in providing additional panache.

You will know that success has been achieved when you find yourself in the very middle of the current party game, and No One Is the Wiser!!!!

Party on!!!

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