We’ve been visiting our granddaughters again for a month or so now. It’s good to be around them, but my wife and I are alarmed at how their behavior has deteriorated. Maybe they weren’t all that well-behaved before everybody went into quarantine, but it seems to be worse now. They’ve become sullen and surly, too. They never say “thank you” or “please,” certainly not to each other. Maybe we’re old-fashioned or too Southern, or maybe it’s just because they’re teens. Their mother and father simply roll their eyes when we say anything. Should we just keep quiet? — Anonymous, Gallatin
It’s not a Southern thing, and we don’t have to get old before we learn how to behave ourselves. Unfortunately, it may well be a teen thing. You could be overly sensitive to the situation. Since their parents have been cooped up with the girls for a year now, they may have ceased to notice their sullenness or have simply learned to ignore their surliness. But their rolling eyes suggest that they could use a little training. Sit down with everybody — or at least with the parents, now that the girls can get out of the house — and talk it out. Being teenagers is sometimes an excuse, but being their parents isn’t.
This is not a sexist question. I’ve worked from home for the last year. Everybody had that option, and I did my work just the same as before, maybe even better. I was in contact with my clients and showed up for every Zoom meeting. Now, I’m back full-time. About six months ago, however, a new boss was hired. It’s pretty clear to me that a couple of women in the office showed up as soon as she was in place, and it’s clear to me that they’ve already built a bond with her. I can’t seem to do the same thing. Job evaluations are coming up, and I’m concerned. I know it’s the reverse of what women have always had to go through, but what can I do? — Anonymous, East Nashville
Thank you for clearing up the sexist thing right away. The advice I’m giving you is the same advice I’d give anybody, man or woman: Get the air clear here at the start. The women have a head start on you. They may have seized the opportunity, but I bet they’re happy to have a woman in the corner office, even at a social distance. There’s no reason to let the situation get more worrisome. If the women are doing good work, there’s no reason for resentment or jealousy to foul the air. You’ve been stuck inside for a while; sometimes, it’s hard for us to see ourselves from the outside. Build your own relationship with the new boss. Tell her how you feel. She’ll probably understand — or at least, she should. If you still feel uncomfortable in the office, you can find another job in another place. Women haven’t always had an easy time doing that. But times are changing. Aren’t they?