• http://www.jillmurray.com Jill Murray

    Brilliant. I love the way you wrote this one. It reminds me of the way a good friend of mine tells stories.

  • Jenny

    Wow, I was one of those students, too, who cried when she got high-80s on a math test.

    It’s a rough way to live; I grew out of it, hopefully Mariah will, too. You’re absolutely right, though, you won’t change her mind with anything you say now.

  • http://johnsthing.blogspot.com John

    God, I’m dying to learn to do a backhandspring, too.

    It’s hard.

  • http://polyester-bride.com Whitters

    I never cease to be amazed at the variety of personalities within families.

    I grinned while reading about Meredith, because your description of her reminds me so much of myself in high school. I never studied and skipped a LOT of school (I probably attended classes about 90 days out of the 180 days of my senior year). Somehow I also graduated at the top of my class and was a National Merit Finalist. I can only imagine what I could have accomplished if I’d actually given a shit. (Although, given the universe’s keen sense of irony, I probably would have flunked out of 10th grade or something.)

  • http://www.lifeorsomethingjustlikeit.blogspot.com KaraMia

    I’m the youngest of five in my family and there are times I look at my siblings and wonder if indeed the milkman came to visit because all of us are so differen’t from the others. My mother was never perfect, but the one thing she did that was great was love us each for our differences. I never felt like I had to live up to any of the others acomplishments. I like that you can see that with your neices

  • sasha

    Having kids also turns what you already knew about yourself on its head…I thought that I’d be the earth-mother, high-volume mommy. Instead, that’s my sister, who we had previously pegged for not becoming a mom at all…go figure.

  • Birchsprite

    I’ve just been reading Jon’s site and I want to say hello and I hope all the plumbing problems are ok. It’s rotten when things go horribly wrong like that and I hope it all works out ok!

  • http://www.myspace.com/amedame Amy D.

    Isn’t it funny how we seem to be the first generation of women willing to audibly acknowledge that we learn from our experiences and that maybe it would be good if we TOLD young and future women that life isn’t easy even if you’re perfect, yet it’s equally not as hard as we sometimes make it for ourselves? Striking that balance might be the hardest thing about being a grown-up! if that’s what I’m supposed to be….

  • Lisa

    test (please delete this comment)

  • http://www.mysterymommy.blogspot.com mystery mommy

    You are a good aunt for understanding your neices and letting them be themselves.

  • http://uppoppedafox.blogspot.com Vikki

    Mariah is my kinda people but I’ve always wanted to be a little more carefree. Maybe I should learn back handsprings…

  • http://justlinda.net JustLinda

    I have 5 kids and it’s sometimes amazing to me that they all came from me, my parenting style, my genes. The oldest two are night and day. If they didn’t all LOOK so much like me, I’d swear they had been switched at birth.

  • http://overdressedconfessions.blogspot.com/ kalisah

    I have to wonder if your two nieces’ personalities don’t have anything to do with birth order? They sound an AWFUL LOT like my older sister and me.

    Since she stayed in the church and wanted mostly to be married for time and all eternity in the temple, I ended up the career woman and she ended up with multiple children and finally graduating from college at the age of 40 with a degree that will allow her to be the librarian at her kids’ school.

  • Kirstination

    Your nieces sound like me and my husband. He’s the perfectionist worry-wart. Me, well, I’m much more interested in drinking a good cup of coffee while reading a book then making sure there aren’t any creases on the back of my shirt that is hidden under my jacket. Though this may be the key to Mariah’s survival: Make sure she marry’s someone like her sister.

  • http://weshallnotbemoved.blogspot.com Amanda Marlaena

    How beautiful that you told Meredith that her list of goals is perfect just as it is. She will probably grow up with some idea that she is not as good as Mariah (not necessarily from her parents but from authority figures at large), and it is wonderful that you have affirmed her for being who she is. You recognize that she is just a very different soul than you are and than her sister is, rather than trying to impose your way of life on her.

    Way to be a loving aunt.

  • http://www.theoreticalproductions.com Beth in Michigan

    Ailuron, Delurking to respond to your question. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but post partum depression is a real humbling experience.

    You may hate hearing this, but at twice your age I can tell you factually that alot will happen in the next twenty years. However, knowing what excellence looks like and how to strive for it isn’t such a bad skill to have at any stage in life!

    Heather, you didn’t ask but, here are my top 5 goals:

    1. Win the Lottery
    2. Save the Planet
    3. Travel in Space
    4. Turn 2 boys into thoughtful responsible men (currently a work in progress ;)
    5. Smoke a bowl with Jon & Heather

    I can’t remember what they were when I was 13 exactly, but I’m pretty sure “Save the Planet” and “Smoke a bowl” were somewhere on that list too.

  • http://tiggerlane.blogspot.com Tiggerlane

    Oh, Heather – it sounds like we could have been twins in high school. I obsessed over every grade – if I missed something on a test, the self-deprecation was soon to follow. I was also Valedictorian (amazing how few chances in life you have a forum in which to say that!) – and thought I shouldn’t fail at anything.

    Then I went to college, and found boys, booze and so much more. I failed classes for not even showing up. But I made up for it later – it bothered me terribly that I graduated with a 2.5 from college, that I had to go BACK and get my Master’s, just to erase that blemish. I graduated with a 4.0, villified.

    As for my daughter? She could care less if she “misses a couple” on her tests, making me grit my teeth in horror. Doesn’t she understand? I have had the worst time not obsessing over her schoolwork, not pushing her to be perfect – b/c I know she is much more well-adjusted and happy than I was at that age. She has loads of social activities, sports, art, music, and a great personality. I wonder if it will be hard for you if Leta doesn’t have the determination we had – will you be able to sit back, and let her be “her?” I will warn you, it was tough for me – and I’ve mellowed some with age. But I know my daughter is better off, not being saddled with such an anal retentive personality.

    BTW, had to make that last photo of the Congressman my background – too cute!

  • http://dooce.migrantroo.com minxlj

    Wow. I have a list of goals and now I totally want to add ‘learn back handspring’ to that list. I’m still a big kid at 27 years old…

  • http://rivetergirl.blogspot.com rivetergirl

    I, too, am constantly amazed that my 5-year-old daughter is exactly like me and then nothing like me at all. It took me a long time to realize that she is herself and not me. But I guess that’s the beauty of family.

  • http://mothergoosemouse.blogspot.com mothergoosemouse

    I share your amazement regarding how two (or more) people could be born into the same family and raised by the same parents, and yet turn out so differently.

    In my family, the outcome is not all that surprising. My husband’s family is another story. He’s the youngest of three boys, and he is BY FAR the overachiever of the bunch. The oldest has never really gotten on the right track (but he’s a hell of a nice guy). The middle one has been ALL over the map (and I used to think he was great, but for the life of me I cannot understand him now). But Kyle has always been on the straight and narrow, more or less. Smart, witty, athletic, outgoing, and driven to succeed, but not so driven that he can’t remember to have a good time along the way.

    What really boggles my mind about how differently these guys turned out is that they are all so different from their parents, especially Kyle. I can’t wrap my brain around that.

  • http://andromeda.qc.ca/blog Sherry

    I was very much a perfectionist in high school. I remember my biology teacher told my dad that I had gone up to his desk and said “I only got a 92%, how can I improve for next time?” and he didn’t know what to say because no one had ever asked him that before.

    Unfortunately, in college I swung the complete opposite way and partied more than I studied.

    I took a travel and tourism course five years ago and we never had to draw an entire world map, though we would have to know all the countries in a specific continent for exams. My sympathies to Mariah, that’s going to be rough.

  • http://phantomtollbooth.blogspot.com Brad Martin

    Draw the whole world? They still make kids do that? I don’t see that it matters anyway. They should just have them draw a map of the world and then label everything America to save us from having to do it 10 years down the line.

  • lyssann

    This would totally go against your neice’s perfectionist grain, but she should learn the countries from the anamaniacs song of the countries of the world. “united states, canada, mexico, panama, haiti, jamaca, peru…”…clearly the problem I would have with this test is spelling. The other problem with this song might be that half the countries in some parts of the world may have changed their name.

  • kidsmom

    My daughter is the anal/self-important/perfectionist in the house (just like her mother). My son gets by on charm, wit, brain and humor (just like the mailman?). I tell daughter to be nice to son, because at some point in her life, she WILL need to borrow money from him.

    Their Mother

  • http://www.simplygeeky.com geeky

    my twin brother and i are a lot like meredith and mariah, in that we’re complete opposites. i’m the one that obsessed over grades, was always responsible, etc. he’s the one that barely passed in school and was always causing trouble. i swear, i was switched at birth.

  • Kathleen

    I have two sisters and two brothers, and we were all born within 8 years. We are all so different it’s frightening. When we all get together people look at us all and wonder how it is we came from the same genetic pool. between the five of us we cover almost every view, orientation, and approach on life… the one thing we had in common was poor grades. If any of us had ever gotten an A minus in Trig or science my parents would have known we were cheating.
    Your neices are lucky to have you to go to if they ever have “start-of-life” crises. Doesn’t everyone have one of these?

  • http://foundenfrance.blogspot.com/ meredith

    I am so different from my little sister, she is laid back and just flows with life. I am her stressed out opposite. I am now a mom to two very different girls. My oldest is a perfectionist and my youngest just likes to put in a good effort. It makes me wonder why in my family, the younger sister is more laid back and the older sister is so stressed. My mom’s older sister is a maniac, and my mom lives in a happy clutter. Are we inadvertantly putting more pressure on our first born daughters and warping them for life?

  • gillyblack

    Genes are great aren’t they ?

    My sister is 12 years younger than me and she is officially my half-sister as we only share a dad. We never lived together even bar for a few weeks when she was 17 and I was 29 … for reasons which are boring – this was 13 years ago.

    We are great friends.

    She was telling me last week about how she was advising a friend about something and I laughed and said to her how she was advising her friend in EXACTLY the same way as I do … and ain’t that a thang!

    A few days later she was telling a mutual friend what I had said and the friend said incredulously:

    EMMA! Don’t you know that you are a clone of Gillian? But don’t worry cos we all love her.

  • http://eyesaverted.blogspot.com/ Wicked H

    The wisdom of Aunt Dooce. I hope that one day they will both tell you how you enhanced both of their lives.

  • http://lifeisgoodatthebeach.blogspot.com/ BeachMama

    You are such a great Aunt. I would have been teasing my neice about her list just to be fun. But, no you encouraged her to keep going with her goals and that is great! As for your other neice, I hope she does well on her Geography. I only wish I had been as intense about my schoolwork, somehow I didn’t care enough. They are fortunate to have such a great Aunt!

  • Sorcha

    I survived a childhood of overachievement and being labelled a brainbox and always seeking perfection, and I survived it because when I was 18 I discovered boys who smelled nice.

    In the new photo on your About this Site page, you look a lot like Kiera Knightley. I hope you don’t mind the comment, I mean it as a compliment.

  • http://www.kerrianne.org kerri

    I would most surely be pacing the room if I had a test where I had to draw and label the entire world. I mean, really, do they expect such knowledge to be useful in “The Real World,” beyond the drunk conversation starter/bet winning opportunity? “Hey guys, while you were doing that keg stand I just drew a map of the globe, from memory. Bet you $50 bucks and that beer in your hand that you can’t label every country, and I can.” Ok, on second thought, that girl better get to studying.

  • Villarica

    I can tell how relaxed you have now become by the fact that you have allowed the “Categories” and “Search This Site” fields to become so misaligned.

  • http://www.louisataylor.blogspot.com/ louisa

    My sister is a Mariah and I was a for sure Meridith!

    My little sister was and is a girl genius and nothing aside from perfection will do. I would love to make funny of these sort of people being the opposite sort myself but I can’t. See that perfection has actually worked for her. She started University 2 years ealrier then a normal person and finished 3 years earlier then a normal person. She was offered jobs with major companies but when they saw her age they said ‘ nope way to young’. If that had been me I would likely have stuck 2 fingers up at them all and worked at Macdonalds ha ha !! Not Alex she only went and landed a job with NATO in Brussels.

    ( yes I occasionally have jealous sister syndrome … very rarely though )

    Me on the other hand …… yeah I just did not care . Not in a bad way just did not care plain and simple. My dad used to say my life was like one big ‘ soap’ he was pretty much right to be fair.

    I am still the Meridith of the family even though I moved from home in Canada to the UK my ‘ Meridith’ life followed me. Wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest and I am sure that Alex would never have it any other way she loves her life as a ‘ Mariah’

  • http://mylifeitalian.blogspot.com tracie b

    she has to DRAW the map too?! good god…give me a hardstretch any day.

  • MJ

    Hi there. I would like to ask you a couple questions for a dooce story that I am working on for my school paper, the Daily Sundial. I hope to hear from you soon. My deadline is Friday so please contact me before Friday if possible. E-mail me your number and when it is best to call you. Thanks so much for your cooperation. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • spilthetea

    A recent conversation between me and my husband since I entered the world of dooce thirteen days ago:

    Husband: I don’t need dinner at home tonight. I’m going out with customers.

    Me: YEAH! I don’t have to cook so now I can read dooce!

    Husband: You don’t need to lose any weight. You’re perfect the way you are.

    Me: HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love you.

    To get back to the main subject…I can draw a pretty accurate map of the western United States. I also know where Canada and Mexico are located. Wonder how many points are given for that much information?

  • http://www.dykstraupdates.blogspot.com Angella

    Sounds like the stereotypical 2 sister scenario. I am the oldest, and my sister the younger. We sound like your nieces when we were that age. Everyone who knows us calls us polar opposites.
    Environment, my foot. All are created UNIQUE!

  • missy

    Holy smokes, Batman! She’s 15 and she’s supposed to be able to draw every single country in the world?

    I graduated in the top 9 percent of my state, I’m at university doing “International Studies”, and there’s no way in hell I’d be able to do that.

    What sin did this poor child commit to be landed with such a horrible test? Is this really what high schools are doing to children these days? Honestly, no wonder the youth suicide rate is rising!

  • sassy7cassy

    haha missy, I’m an IS major also. I’m at Ohio State.

    Anyways, YEAH, I would NEVER be able to draw the whole world and name the countries from memory. The 54 countries in Africa were enough to memorize, and I didn’t have to draw a damn thing.

    She either goes to a REALLY GOOD school that likes to challenge students (or drive students to suicide), or a REALLY CRAPPY one with teachers who don’t realize how many countries are in the world. Geez.

  • Talon

    Nakee baby feet are in danger of me eating them.

    No matter where they are…I just can’t help myself.

    Thus ends my terrible confession.

    My soul is now purged.

    I feel clean!! Take me now Jesus!! Oh wait…that’s right, you’re gay and committed to John. My bad!!

    Too much ice cream. Definatly TOO much ice cream for Talon today.


  • http://seppukuqueen.livejournal.com/ seppukuqueen

    I would have been a Meredith, if Meridith liked to smoke a lot of pot and spend at least half of the school year skipping it. Ah, how I miss not going to school.
    I grew up to have a usually fully clothed baby, and I failed math consistantly (I mean several times, in a row). Actually, maybe not, when you consider the hat thing, which is much like the sock thing, but worse, since I do it all the time.

    My god! My baby will never make it into Harvard! What have I done?? (wail, moan, sob loudly) Someone call CPS, I’m a terrible mother.

    Aunts are great though, and easier to talk to. Boot for her and you’ll have her in the palm of your hand. Because we all know intoxicating your relatives shows your coolness factor.

    I’m kidding.

    I think.

  • DesertJade

    Kids always have a way of figuring it out in the long run. I was just like Mariah, always getting As, kicking my ass if I ever got anything less. I was a very good student, and could have done anything, but I decided to go to art school. I worked as a designer for a few years, got better and better and then what? I quit my “real job” to go work at a zoo. Go figure! What did I learn? It is ok to change your mind, and the most important thing is finding out what really makes you happy. I’m sure that both of these girls will find it someday, no matter where their paths lead them.

  • Jonniker

    I don’t think Mariah was sent to the wrong person – it’s so much easier for her that you are her *aunt*, because your parents are never that cool and you never see them for what they are – and certainly, as you get older and high school, their advice is *never* as valuable. But an aunt is never out of vogue.

    If you were her mother, then you wouldn’t be able to get her as well as you do, and she wouldn’t see in you what she needs to see – that maybe letting up a little is okay, and that an alternative path is there if she wants it (and if she doesn’t, that’s okay, too). Sometimes – many times, I’d venture to say – the person who guides us the most in certain ways isn’t a parent, and isn’t even present every day. Even if she can’t see it at this exact moment, she will someday. And maybe you will, too.

    And because I have had three – no, four – glasses of wine, I feel like I need to tell you how hilariously and embarrassingly EARNEST I am being when I say this. I’m taking this comment SO SERIOUSLY, as if it will change the angle at which the earth spins on its axis. Brow wrinkled, lip jutted out. I am, apparently, Very Serious.

    And I also think I’m right.

  • http://www.blackbeltmama.typepad.com blackbeltmama

    My girls couldn’t be more different. It is truly amazing how despite genetics being the same, two kids in the same family can be so night and day. Nature’s mystery I guess.

  • http://squirrelstories.blogspot.com E-Lo

    I wish I was motivated enough to learn how to do a back hand spring.


  • http://www.CadensCastle.com Donny

    I took all honors classes in school rarely studied, and still received A’s. I was lucky enough to:

    A. Remember what we discussed in class. The teachers would usually reveal what we needed to know for the tests and I’d just remember it.


    B. Have a personality that teachers just liked. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get less than an A even if I failed multiple tests.

    The one exception was Calculus. I had to study my ass off for that one and still received an A- one semester and a B+ the next. Damn you, Mr. Albertini!

    Mr. Albertini didn’t just hand me the world, however. That made him my favorite teacher of all.

  • HullCove

    Ah, the classic Type A Eldest Child. I know all about that one. Life is so much easier when you lose your perfect 4.0 GPA. As a 23 year old graduate student I am now striving towards what I call “Type Q,” the reformed Type A. Happiness for the Q personality lies somewhere between a slacker’s ability to not feel the need to volunteer to help with everything and be absolutely perfect every time and the Type A’s ability to get done what needs to be done and do it well.

  • http://fixedupgirl.typepad.com fixedupgirl

    Thirteen is ridiculously awkward to experience as an age. You did a great deed by telling her her list was perfect. :)

  • http://www.vegasandvenice.com vegasandvenice

    You know I have enjoyed every one of your posts immensely and I would not want to miss a single one, but now that I know about that A- on that Trigenometry test I feel as though I have been deceived!! How can I ever love again?