Dear Annie: I am 13 years old and a twin. My sister, “Trixie,” is a popular, funny girl like me. Everybody loves her. She wins awards at school and seems like the perfect kid. I love her a lot, but I’m worried about her.
We are similar in all ways except one. Trixie cannot take criticism. She thinks everybody is out to get her. Even if you speak to her in civil tones, she blows up and says you are yelling at her. She’s OK around her friends and will make a joke out of anything they say because she doesn’t take them seriously. But with our parents, coaches and teachers, it’s another matter. Trixie knows everything and refuses to let anybody tell her otherwise.
As an example, she’s a decent basketball player, but both her coach and our parents made a constructive suggestion (nicely) about the way she handles free throws. Last night, Dad said it again, and instead of replying, “I’ll work on it,” Trixie started screeching and said my father was being mean and horrible. She became irritable, and when Dad came to her room to talk to her, she said, “Stop screaming at me!” and ran off to sulk.
You might write this off as normal teenage behaviour, but Trixie takes that defiant attitude to another level. The way she twists everything into a personal attack is disturbing, and when she throws a fit, it’s frightening. I don’t know anyone who behaves as extremely as she does. Is there something wrong with her? — Worried in California
Dear Worried: Trixie sounds like her hormones are in hyper-drive, but it isn’t necessarily anything to worry about.
Does she maintain decent grades? Does she get into trouble at school? Is she still friendly with the same group of girls? These are the changes in behaviour that can indicate real trouble.
You seem like a caring sister. Please talk to your parents about this, and let them handle it.
Dear Annie: Several years ago, you printed the words written on the base of the Statue of Liberty.
A lot of people seem to have forgotten they exist and what they mean.
My parents were immigrants, and because they came to the U.S., their children had the opportunity and motivation to become doctors, lawyers and artists who pay taxes and contribute to American society. Could you please print those inspiring words again? — Tolerant in Chicago
Dear Tolerant: Thank you for asking. Here they are, and on the most appropriate occasion we could think of:
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”