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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 2:30 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Making the First Move, Afraid of Dogs, Resisting Pressure to Drink

Question from Carlie

HELP!!! Well, I like this boy in my year. We went to the same primary school but now we are in high school and we’ve separated. He used to like me, but I used to hate him. Now I caught feelings for him because I see him everyday. I don’t know what to do. I just want to forget about him!

Weezy

No, you don’t want to forget about him. Come on now. Talk to him. That’s not just an option. If you wish to affect change, that is your only option. When last he checked the status of your feelings, you hated him. He is probably awaiting any update on that mood report from you.

I know that “talk to him” sounds like very difficult instructions. First, it’s scary and, second, it’s sort of like admitting defeat. Like, “OK, fine. You win. I like you.” (Tucks tail between legs.) But life is not a contest as much it is a collaboration. As we grow, we change, and being able and willing to acknowledge that we have changed and state our truth is the ultimate in maturity.

Look, before you start talking to someone you can’t picture yourself doing it, and then after you become friendly with that person you can’t imagine that never having happened. So, smile at him. Walk over with a friend for support and say, “How’s your life been going?”

This situation is currently filed under Ball In Your Court. Move that file. Let him know that you are safe to approach by approaching him.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Elena

How not to be afraid of dogs?

Weezy

My favorite! Questions that sound like Google searches!

OK, here is something good to know. If you have a fear, other people have it, too. You are not alone. Often times, a fear of dogs begins in early childhood. Something nasty went down between you and a dog. You don’t remember it consciously but your subconscious screams, “Danger!” when a dog is around.

But here’s something important for you to keep in mind: A baby is far more vulnerable around a dog than you are now. A baby could pull a dog by the tail or fall onto the dog and scare it. You know babies. They are always starting something. But at your current size and age, that history is not going to repeat itself. You can read the dog. Sense the mood of the dog. Most dogs would never bite or attack a human. They adore people! And you would never do anything to hurt or frighten the dog.

You are not in any danger around 99.9 percent of dogs. You can also always ask the owner, “Is she friendly?” No one knows and understands that dog better than its human.

So, I typed your search into YouTube, and what I found is below. I hope it helps.

(Nat Geo WILD video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Marco

Hi. My friend has asked me to come to her party, and I’m not sure if I will be allowed to go so I will have to ask my parents. However, if I am allowed to go, I will feel awkward as all my friends drink alcohol except me. So what should I do? What if they force me? I just don’t want to drink alcohol yet. Maybe when I’m older, but what if I feel awkward?

Weezy

Truth? I never drank alcohol at parties and nobody gave me any business about it. Grab a cup. Put some Coke or water in it, and just hold it and sip from it occasionally. If someone offers you a drink of alcohol say, “I’m good. Thank you.”

Since you are asking your parents if you can go to this party, I am going to assume that you are under 18. It’s illegal for you to be drinking for good reason. The judgment part of your brain is not fully developed. Why would you further impair it with alcohol? To be blunt, this is how kids get pregnant or die. Just don’t drink.

Nobody is going to force you to drink, but the peer pressure can get serious because people who use drugs and alcohol want everyone in on the crime. That way nobody feels judged and nobody tells. It’s not your job to help your friends feel good about bad decisions.

Now, all of my grown-up advice can make me seem like a really don’t care if you even have any friends. Of course I want you to have friends. But ... there are kids at your school for whom alcohol is not a key weekend ingredient. Just be on the lookout for them.

Go to this party and try the Coke cup-holding decoy. If this doesn’t work, steer clear of these types of evenings. Ultimately, like attracts like and you will find yourself choosing friends who share your interests and priorities. The older you grow, the more access you will gain to people who are more like you.

While you continue growing up, just do you. Don’t compromise yourself for the sake of social acceptance and expect others to respect your choices.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She also hosts a weekly video podcast called Things I Found Online, and teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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