Persisting and Pestering

By Wendy Belzberg

Published March 05, 2004, issue of March 05, 2004.
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I have applied for a position for which I believe I am eminently qualified. I have not heard from anyone since I submitted my resume two weeks ago. Which side of the fine line between pestering and persisting do I walk? I really want the job.

— Employing job etiquette

I assume you would have mentioned it if you were dating the boss’s daughter or your father were a Porsche dealer? Little perks like that always help. In their absence, you may have to get the job the old-fashioned way: by earning it. Begin with a follow-up e-mail to confirm that your resume was received. Send another two e-mails over the course of the next two weeks to remind the employer of your existence. If, in the interim, you can find anyone with a connection at the firm who could place a call and put in a good word for you, so much the better. If you still do not hear back, I would suggest a telephone call confirming your continued interest in the position and your preference for persistence over peskiness. Have you yet offered a free trial period for your services? This is your moment.

* * *

My mother gave my daughter a Barbie DVD for her 5th birthday. My daughter already had it and told my mother so at the party, at which point my mother took the disc and said she would return it and get something else. I have always thought that once you give a gift, you no longer have a claim to it; the recipient of the gift is the one who decides whether to keep it or exchange it. When I confronted my mom about it, she accused me of wanting the DVD so I could return it and get something for myself. How can a grandmother give a gift and then take it away?

— Taken aback by return policy

First rule: Grandmothers can do anything they want.

Ordinarily a recipient would have the good sense and good manners not to blurt out that she already had the proffered gift. She would also be in a position to return the gift on her own. Neither is the case when dealing with a 5-year-old. Is it possible that your mother offered to return the gift because she is genuinely considerate and wanted only to save you a trip to the mall? Remember that she may have felt that your daughter delivered her a public slap by rejecting her gift. Either way, your daughter can be expected to behave like a 5-year-old (though she’s not too young to be taught decorum). You cannot. Let it go.

* * *

Our nearly-2-year-old son is sometimes defiant and takes “no” as a challenge. Often our normal punishments such as a timeout or patsh in tukhes fail to deter him from doing forbidden things. The problem is that he has been hitting our newborn son, and we cannot tolerate our newborn getting hit on the head. How do we get our bigger baby to stop?

— Time to stop tyrannical toddler

Why should your toddler be any different than most of the grown-ups I know? Your expectations are unrealistic. Which is another way of saying that defiance — and acting out — is a perfectly normal stage of developmental behavior. The last thing you want to do right now is to come down too hard on your son. He already feels that an interloper has moved into his territory. He needs as much love and attention as you can give him; he needs to know that he is not being displaced.

A gentle “no” — or even a firm “no” — every time he hits his brother will eventually sink in. I’m not a fan of spanking, however gently. If you need to spank, pick on someone your own size. Until then, I suggest you don’t leave the two of them alone. Your firstborn is too young to understand that he could actually harm his little brother and that he is motivated by jealousy. He isn’t too young to understand a special outing without his little brother or a little extra attention. But don’t trust me, speak to your pediatrician about this.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






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