Ask Red & Black
April 02, 2021
Design by Sawyer Pennington
|I'm guessing this is due to the pandemic, but before that you could substitute "children" for "partner" so I'll give you my "mom" perspective (although dealing with children may be easier). Anyway, when the girls were young and "driving me crazy" I decided to follow Black's advice – rather than trying to be the "perfect mom" all the time, I just did a timeout. For me, not the girls! I'd find a way to take a short break from them. The same was true when my husband got fired and was home all the time. Then I'd escape with a magazine to Starbucks or, even better, a movie. With the pandemic, you might not be comfortable with those options, so maybe a walk? A very long walk if they're driving you really crazy.|
|As Red noted, being around people (even those you love) "too much" is not a new phenomenon – the pandemic just brought it home to so many people (sorry, could not resist). Find some space when you need it – and accept the fact you and your partner might need space at different times. I suspect that you are driving your partner crazy, too. Do not take it personally, and recognize everyone has very different coping strategies. (Red likes to default to her theater degree and get emotional, and I have learned telling her to "calm down" only makes it worse.) Try to have a quiet conversation to acknowledge the situation, talk things through, and, if possible, laugh about it. But you may want to position it as, "I need to figure out how to be less cranky when I get overwhelmed" versus "You are driving me crazy!"|
Ask Red & Black
June 11, 2021
I'm laughing because I suspect Black would argue that I
rarely look "nice" in the sense that I rarely "dress up". Even before the pandemic, unless I had a Red
& Black business meeting or speaking engagement, my normal "look" was that
of super comfy – workout or very casual clothing and minimal makeup. Here in Texas, where the heat and humidity are
oppressive, I'm always looking for tips because the moment you step outside,
you're going to start sweating, your makeup will drip, and your hair will either frizz or wilt (neither's
a good look for me). So, I keep my
skincare simple and summer-friendly – extremely lightweight, tinted facial
moisturizer with a high SPF (so I only need a single product) and waterproof
I've never been very creative when managing my long hair for the summer, but my daughter let me in on a secret when she straightened my hair for me. Unlike my rushed approach, she took an extra 10 minutes to do it in smaller sections, which looked great when my hair was down but, amazingly, even made my ponytail look "finished". Taking a little more time to do it right makes a huge difference as now my hair stands up to the heat and humidity. (Good news is she's always willing to do it for me, bad news is that she goes to college in a few months, so I'll have to learn how to do it myself.)
|When I started racing cars in the mid-1990s, I cut my hair very
short so I could easily style it with some water and hair goo when I removed my
helmet, which makes it perfect for summer. (Plus, I calculated that I could
save over 10 hours/month, or five full days a year, by not dealing with my
In terms of clothing, it is a function of where you are going or where you work (obviously, if you are in the banking industry, you will dress very differently than someone who works for a design or marketing firm). For the last few decades, I have worn the same "uniform" – dark slacks or jeans, white shirt, blazer, and colorful Hermes shawl. In the summer, I select pieces that are light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable fabrics, but if I had to give one tip, it would be to wear layers since going in and out of air-conditioning can be a challenge, although I see it as a fashion opportunity. In fact, that is how my "signature" shawls started as, regardless of the season, I would always have one with me to handle changes in temperature.
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Ask Red & Black
June 04, 2021
FULL QUESTION: My teenager's a slob and it's driving me crazy – their messy room, leaving dirty dishes all around the house, and the bathroom looking like a disaster area! And now they're home for the summer. Help!
Moms everywhere know exactly what you're talking about! And although people told me not to worry,
this phase will pass, that didn't make it any better while I was in the midst
of it. (I wish I had understood why teenagers have messy rooms
and what I could have done to manage
it better.)The good news was I was able to set expectations (and help maintain them) for
the common areas of the house, but dealing with their rooms was very different.
Especially with my eldest daughter since
nothing would work – not bribes, not threats, not rationale conversation. I tried all the tips and "tricks" without success, and eventually decided
to stop nagging her because all it did was get me upset while she seemed perfectly
content with the mess.|
At that point, I realized my primary concern was that I'd ultimately need an exterminator and/or plumber (for those of you that have lived through this, you understand), so I'd periodically go in and selectively clean that which would create problems for the rest of us. The rest I left alone. Hey, if she wanted to wear smelly clothing or have a bathroom that should be declared a national emergency zone, so be it.
My younger daughter, in comparison, was so much better. And since she's more social and likes to have friends over, that has been the best thing to keep her room habitable by humans, as she'd never have them come into a pigsty.
|I do not have children, but there was a time I did have stepdaughters, and not knowing what else to do, I decided to treat them like I would new employees. I knew employees basically wanted to please management, so I figured kids wanted to please their parents. I created a "Rules of the House" document (small, basic, easy things) and presented most of them as things to do versus things not to do, and looked at the rules as an opportunity for them to achieve and succeed, not as a set of restrictions. I always found it more effective with employees, and then the girls (and even their father), to reinforce positive behavior rather than punish bad behavior. It can be as simple as a "thank you," complimenting them on their efforts, or maybe even reward a job well done. It seemed to work, and along the way, improved communications and helped us set priorities.|
Ask Red & Black
May 28, 2021
pandemic restrictions start to lift, especially for those of us who've been vaccinated, and
we ease toward getting back to "normal" (or whatever will be our new normal),
hugs are on a lot of people's minds and "wish lists". Myself included, as I've really missed being
able to hug people. But I always
make sure that I first ask permission, making it clear that I respect whatever
they want to do, or perhaps not to do.
At the same time, we have a 93-year-old mom, and I'm extremely careful about who I hug – making sure they've also been vaccinated. And, like many moms, I admit to being overprotective and, although both my kids have been vaccinated, still encourage them to continue to be cautious.
|Red's eldest, Natasha, lives in England, and earlier this month when it announced that its citizens would be allowed to hug again, I laughed as she did not hug pre-COVID. For that matter, Sawyer is not much of a hugger, either. I will not get into the science of why people are or are not huggers, but I fully appreciate that hugs provide a wealth of health benefits and was fascinated by this study. But not even scientific proof will make me want a hug, although I may give in for those friends I know really need hugs right now. For everyone else, the pandemic provides me with the perfect excuse not to hug.|