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09 August 2012 @ 03:21 am
This is one of the rare Kiwi-is-judgmental posts.

One of the things that annoys me to no end is people who have a "childish" act as their main "act" (way of interacting with the world/people) or one that comes out often. Silly and cute is one thing--I am known for being both on occasion--but slipping into infantile habits like the high-pitched bordering-on-whiny voices, dropping down to minimal vocabulary, generally acting like a caricature of childhood... That shite tends to piss me off.

When I was 16, there was a teenage boy (same age) who used to follow me around and act that way every time someone else was present and sometimes when it was just the two of us. What made me angriest, and is often the case for me with people who behave this way, is that I really like them and what they have to say when they are "acting their age". I had many (gentler-than-I-will-describe-here) conversations with him about how his behaviour could be off-putting and how people really wanted to connect with him because he was worth connecting with, but how it could be difficult to get through that sort of act--or to have the patience to do so. That if there was a way to bring that behind-the-mask self out more often, I would like to help. (I don't think everyone should "act their age" all the time: people should be able to let loose. But there is a difference, and there are times and places for such things--or more importantly, times and places not for such things. If a behaviour is clearly putting off/annoying friends, it may be time to consider checking in with oneself and editing that presentation of personality. Perhaps. Up to the person.)

There is someone living in my household as a long-term guest who will likely soon become a household member. I try to remember that she is years younger than I am, but it doesn't really do anything to help: she is still in her third decade of life and quite intelligent/well-spoken other times. Sometimes it's cute when she acts like a kitten--in the right situations--and other times, it is not cute or endearing. Things can be taken Too Far. I know some of that decision is subjective, but if the general feeling in the room is one of uncomfortable consensus...

Today there was an interaction with her, me, and two other friends (one housemate and one guest); we all know each other. I suggested that this long-term guest (LTG) head up to sleep in my bed, where she has been sleeping for a while now with my firm permission/suggestion, because I was content to sleep on the futon and I was going to continue watching Sherlock with the others. It was clear that LTG had been asleep, had been moving all about, and was trying to sleep--on a big hard wooden uncomfortable chest. It was honestly distracting, which I did mention a while into our "debate" (it was like speaking with a child, so I don't actually know what I would call it). She kept insisting in her child's voice, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm not trying to sleep," as she snuggled into the pillow to sleep. We kept trying to send her upstairs for everyone's good: she could sleep soundly without her tossing and turning to distract us. "I'm going, I'm going," she finally responded, in the same mumbled voice, as she moved nowhere. It seemed as if she was trying to act cutesy, but it wasn't cute.

Finally, the guest of the household (and person who was leading the Sherlock-viewing) snapped, "LTG!" and LTG whined, "I've got to go or [Guest] will hit meee." By that time the other housemate and I had been repeating variations of, "LTG, upstairs, bed, sleep." She made her way upstairs.

I made a comment, a while after, that I hated playing that game (arguing with LTG!child). [Guest] said, "It only took one word from me. I have a Teacher Voice." I sat for a moment and thought about how I have a Teacher Voice for when I want to use it, but I've always had a rule against using it on friends. I like that I'm someone she trusts and someone who doesn't frighten her (since she spooks easily), and I wouldn't want to do something that pained her just to ease my own frustration.

I'm not sure I'm going to have the patience. This is the third interaction of this go-to-bed type we've had (never just me and her, always others involved as well). Sometimes we need a bit of help getting Cassia-the-housemate to bed--she gets very silly and then randomly weepy when she's exhausted--but for the most part everyone in the household just tends to go, "Welp, I'm tired, off to bed with me!" and that's that.

I realise that LTG just doesn't like taking up space...but the whole reason I gave her my room to stay in was so she wouldn't: so she would have a separate room to go to for sleep and for private time, with a door of her own as she stayed here. I told her she could sleep up there again tonight, that it would actually be easiest for everyone involved, and she did the Child Gig. Which is pretty much status quo.

I just...didn't sign on to live with a child. I don't set out to change people's behaviour, either, as it doesn't seem like my business...yet I'm tempted to have one of those talks with her. All "I" statements and the like. I really do like her when she's being grown up, and when she's being cute in light moments, but using the Child Act as a form of being obstinate or attempt to be "cutesy" at inappropriate/inopportune times... Ergh! Annoying! (It doesn't just happen over "bedtime" moments; it'll happen other moments, too. Moments that would be ideal to be an Adult and discuss things, or make it clear that one would prefer not to discuss them. In the case of the Bedtime Problem, if she had been speaking truth--that she was okay, and not trying to sleep--and sat up to watch the series/do other things, there would have been no problem. Or if it was just, "LTG, you're free to use my bed tonight; I'd prefer to sleep on the communal futon since it's easiest" followed by "Okay! I'm tired--night!" even with a little bit of "are you sure?" back and forth.)

I know I'm not alone in it, so that at least helps me feel alright; another housemate who is easygoing, generally-happy, and the like has noticed the same thing. I guess it was less of a concern for us when LTG was just that--a long-term guest--but now that it's incredibly likely that she'll be a fully-fledged Housemate soon, it's coming to a head for at least me. I don't know about that housemate or any of the others. I feel as though, if I am going to live with LTG, this is just one of those times I'm going to have to stick my neb in where it might not belong, for my own sanity. If I make gentle mention of it and nothing changes, so be it; I know when I can leave the room.

Blergh. It probably doesn't help that it's after midnight, but I don't think that's what's actually responsible for the feelings. I've known a number of people like LTG in my life and the behaviour has consistently irked me. I think I also hate the reminder that I am not as easygoing as I sometimes think I am.

I'm all for some silly fun and play, for some well-timed role-play, for theatrics and tomfoolery. As long as we remember our ages. I just like knowing that, when the time comes to it, I can trust that I will be speaking with a grown-up--a trust that I have, funnily enough, with many teenagers and actual children. When I don't get that feeling/trust around fellow adults who are capable and show promise at being able to do so, I get peeved. Especially when the moment arrives and I find I don't feel that I'm dealing with a grown-up at all.

Bed now. I've just been head-butted in the face by a sleepy cat. Some people sleep with the fishies...I sleep with the kitties.
Shivshiv5468 on August 9th, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
That kind of cutesy behaviour is annoying but it in broad terms seems to be a very successful strategy in getting people to do what you want.
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on August 10th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Really? I haven't found that to be so. At least, not from what I've seen...perhaps because it doesn't make me want to do what these people want. (Though honestly LTG uses hers most often when someone is trying to give her something--physical or otherwise--and it turns gift-giving into a burdensome annoyance, which is aggravating. Many people like giving things; a little "oh no you shouldn't have" is acceptable, but making an actual nuisance of it? Especially when it's good for both parties involved.)
minervas_eule: Botticelli Minervaminervas_eule on August 9th, 2012 10:15 am (UTC)
Here is hoping, for your sanity and those of your housemates, that her behaviour might change once she is not a "guest" any more.... it should, if she has HER space to occupy without further ado...?!?
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on August 10th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
I was given the wrong impression, as well. I was told her mother would be "giving her rent money" (I thus assumed, monthly, she would be given rent money until she found a job). Instead her mother is giving her a one-time $300--which doesn't even cover rent for a month. So I'm doubting she'll be a housemate unless she can find a job quickly?

It's obnoxious because we had finally managed to fill up all the bedrooms in the house, and now we're kicking out the couple that live sin one of them because they get drunk, do stupid things, are disrespectful, and don't care for their cats at all. So it's back to the 30-dollars-more rent, which may seem like not much, but actually is! (LTG will probably stay in that room for a bit, but I really hope we'll head straight into looking for another housemate again.)
CaroRulescarorules on August 9th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
This is totally normal how you feel about it. It seems like this person just wants attention and this whole childish act is misplaced.. not sure what the right way to act with someone like that though..
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on August 10th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I don't know if it's precisely a call for attention--sometimes it is, but those are usually just in the fun hang-out time--but it's definitely something. Whenever it comes to accepting a gift (of something physical, time, just a trade, anything) or adult topics concerning her come up (not like sex, just anything that requires maturity) she ends up in the act. It's frustrating. I've seen that with other people's stuff--adult topics--she's fine, mature, well-spoken.

I've also been reminded that she's the sort to just curl up in a ball if I bring any of it up as she will be under the impression that I "disapprove" of her. (Which is just the act rearing up again: uncomfortable topic brought up, go into kid mode, curl up in foetal position.) alsdkjfaskjf!

I am trying to be compassionate about all of it because I realise she came from a difficult household where her mother frequently did disapprove of her, verbally and outspokenly, but it's not the sort of act that works well into adulthood. I mean, can you imagine a 40-year-old woman falling back on that coping strategy? So I really want to help her as much for herself as for my own fraying tethers!
CaroRulescarorules on August 10th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
I totally get what you mean, I think frankly she has issues you cannot really fix, she'd prob need professional help to break those patterns..

I guess you should keep on trying to make her understand, but it seems she's kind of too far gone with things to change simply by your intervention..
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on August 19th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
Oh, it's definitely not something I can fix; I'm just something I can help her with. And hopefully learn to get less frustrated with haha.

I'm personally hoping she/it's not too far gone at 20--and I would never expect that my intervention alone would bring about change. Interventions, or at least successful ones, are about a person realising it is their responsibility, for their own good, and within their power to change--with the support of others. So I'd like to lend what support I can there.

She had another bad episode of it today in a restaurant and ended up misty-eyed. I felt bad for pushing her because she clearly went deeply into the act, but in the end I helped her get out the other side with my friends and with some humour. (She didn't have any money and thus wasn't going to eat after what had been a long day with another long trip ahead of us. All we wanted to do was get her to eat something, and it would have pained us to see her not eat, because she was clearly starving and exhausted. First I got her laughingly into the idea of sharing a meal with me [because I don't eat much] and in the end got her to order her own meal. She ended up eating a lot, which is good! So one success.)
CaroRulescarorules on August 19th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
I agree that she can only change if she wants to, but making sure she realize she needs to change is a good idea..

I hope you help her get out of that! Seems like you're def trying and making some progress!
þeof in þystro: Grannymothwing on August 10th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
Oh good, I thought my acquaintance, N., was the only one who does it. And I get very cranky too when people are childish at me. It always makes me feel icky, as though I am unwittingly part of someone's Age Play RPG, and I am certainly not going to sign on as primary caregiver to a stranger without giving my consent. I usually try to remain patient, but sometimes I try to snap them out of it by pretending that I can't hear them correctly. Not my proudest moments, exactly, but it does tend to work.

Here's hoping that she's just feeling particularly infantile because of her uncertain status in the house and that it'll go away once her status is clearer.
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on August 10th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Ohhh no, your acquaintance is definitely not the only one to do it. Is your acquaintance 30+? Because one of the arguments I've been making in conversations with mutual friends is that I really can't see how it would work for someone over 30 to rely on this sort of coping method, and that if none of the people who care for LTG actually discuss it with her, she may end up figuring it out a harder and more painful way.

It definitely makes me feel icky; I get the sensation of my skin crawling. Yes, part of someone's Age Play RPG without consent! That's exactly it. Frustrating, when I am trying to have a real conversation. LTG isn't a stranger, but I definitely didn't consent nonetheless.

Ditto on the trying to remain patient. I just managed it during the interaction I spoke about in the entry, but I can imagine that if it happens again I may not be able to. The housemate who was present told me that it was the worst of the Child Play Act she had seen LTG use in a long while, so at least I know that I wasn't fraying at nothing; it was especially bad that night.

I just hate that arranging to give her anything--even if it benefits me, too, a mutually-beneficial 'gift'--becomes such a burden. The regular "oh you shouldn't have!" or "are you sure?" or even "I'm not sure I can take this!" make sense, but honestly, if gift-giving were like this with everyone? I'd probably stop giving of myself, my time, and my belongings!

I'm hoping it's just because of her uncertain status in the house, although on the other hand that's just as bad, because I've since been informed that it's actually unlikely she will be able to become a housemate and instead will remain a Long Term Guest for we-don't-know-how-long. It seems as if there's no winning any which way.

Argh. *Tugs at hair.* I'm just going to not think about it for a while since I'm back in MA for a few days. I'll see if I've cooled down when I return to The Household on Monday.
þeof in þystro: Grannymothwing on August 12th, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC)
My colleague is 29, so it's close. She's also a teacher, and I had really, really hoped that teachers would not resort to baby-talking their ways out of situations when they get tough, unless they're Umbridge.

I hate being given things because I always feel pressured to give something back, and if I am not instantly able to, I get scared. So I think I might understant part of her headache if her situation in the house at nights isn't fixed. Could you officially give her your room for the entire duration of her stay after a certain time? Not that preventing her moments of angst is your job, she really ought to seek out a way to handle herself without acting like a child herself.

Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow. :)