Monday, September 30, 2013

Reformed "Player" Wants To Show He Is A Changed Man

Dear Tazi:

Growing up I was the kid who always got picked last for team sports – if I got picked at all. If there was an extra person, I was the one left out so the teams would be even; sometimes the other kids would rather play a person short than have me on their team. I was that awkward, and it hurt.

After high school I moved away to go to college and discovered sports like track and cross country and cycling – sports that didn't require the ability to throw or hit a ball or coordinate with a teammate. I excelled at these sports and in no time at all my body changed from being awkward and gangly to physically fit and muscular. Girls started to take notice of me, and I am ashamed to say I started to act like a kid with free reign in the candy store. I know that some of these women were just looking for a good time, but there were others that really liked me and I must have hurt them with my less than honorable behavior.

While I have no problem at all returning to my hometown for holidays and school reunions – in fact, I love going back and showing off how awesome I now look – I am a little ashamed to go to my college homecomings, where I will see the people who only remember me as a jackass jock; that’s not who I am…at least, not deep down inside.

It has been ten years since I graduated college and I am now married and my wife is pushing to go to my college homecoming with me this year so she can see where I was a star athlete and meet all of my friends from college. “Kara” feels that she is somehow missing out on knowing who I am because she has never met anyone from my college years; she has been to my hometown with me many times, and knows I was an awkward child/teenager so now she wants to see where my “transformation” took place. I am afraid that Kara will discover what a player I was and be disappointed in me; I am also afraid that I will see some of the women I hurt and that they will react badly upon seeing me again and maybe even tell my wife about my past. I don’t want to keep secrets from Kara, so how do I get around all of this?


Dear Reformed:

I am so happy to hear that you got over your own awesomeness and can now see how hurtful your behavior was to women who were interested in who you were as a person and not for your awesome body. You say that you do not want to keep secrets from your wife but you have done just that for all this time; you have kept your past a secret from the one woman who should know all about you. I can see why Kara is pressing to attend your college homecoming.

For the sake of your wife, who does not deserve to hear the truth from someone else, I suggest you track down your old flames via Facebook or some other social media (perhaps your college has a class page) and apologize for the way you treated them all those years ago. Contrary to what the singer Timbaland says, it is never too late to apologize. Then, explain to your wife why you are so reluctant to attend your reunion. You do not have to go into all of the gory details; simply state that you were quite the ladies’ man in college, having spent your grade school years an unpopular dork, and that your behavior got a little out of hand. Tell her you would rather remain perfect in her eyes, so you have skimmed over the less honorable parts of your past and hope that she can forgive you for telling this lie of omission. Finally, ask her if she still wants to attend your college homecoming and honor her request if she says yes. I suggest you make your travel reservations as soon as you finish reading this – homecoming is on its way!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tazi's Corner #59 - RIP Miss Jingles, Beloved Pet

Dear Readers:

It is rare that I step our from behind the curtain, so to speak, and write a column from the human point of view; this is, after all, Tazi’s Corner – a fact he frequently reminds me of with a glare so withering you have to be of the feline persuasion to actually accomplish it. It looks a little something like this:

As you can see from the title, my beloved pet mouse Miss Jingles (aka Jinxie, aka Jinx) passed on this week. She had been ill and oscillating between fading fast and bouncing back, as so many of us humans do when we face our terminal days. Around 5 AM Tuesday morning, Tazi let out a soft, mewling cry (unusual for him; he usually screams at that hour) and I knew that my “little Miss Jinx” was gone; Saint Francis had offered her his hand and she gently took it in her delicate paw, leaving behind her earthly shell as her spirit stepped onto a higher plane.

I know there are some who would argue that she was “just a mouse”, and even those who would argue that animals have no soul and therefore cannot go to Heaven, and probably more than a few who embrace atheism and believe that dead is dead…but I know those of you who believe like that are far outnumbered by animal lovers who have faith in the existence of the Rainbow Bridge that our pets are said to cross. Far before her time on earth expired, that was what Miss Jingles had become – a pet.

Miss Jingles. She hated having her picture taken.

Jingles came to me purely by accident. I was working my seasonal job at a state park, educating visitors about the ecology of land and ocean. One of the exhibits in my small office was a beautifully colored milk snake that was refusing to eat the crickets we tried to feed it, so my boss brought a feeder mouse back from the pet store – a little white one that, in spite of my disgust for small rodents, I thought was kind of cute. Regardless, and not without a little guilt, I released the mouse into the snake cage where she gleefully explored her surroundings – until she came face-to-face with the snake and tried to claw her way up the slick glass sides of the tank. As a Naturalist I understand that the snake needed to eat, but I was just far too tender-hearted to watch; I felt like I had just thrown Daniel into the lion’s den

Like Daniel in the lion’s den, though, the snake did not eat the mouse. Since leaving the mouse in the tank was cruel to the mouse, and the unspoken reason for her being in there in the first place was making small children cry, the mouse was removed and put into a holding tank until the end of the day. The next morning I came into the office expecting to see that the mouse had been consumed only to discover that she had built a small nest in the snake tank, arranging grass blades and small twigs into a comfortable bed. The snake continued to ignore her, even as she climbed onto the rim of its water dish; took a long drink; and then commenced washing herself. My fellow Naturalist and I looked at each other and realized that we could not sacrifice this small creature to the snake, who was so obviously disinterested.

What could we do? The mouse had been bred to be fed, and had no ability to survive in the wild, so we could not release her into the park; and there was no way we could return her to the pet store to be sold as food to another snake – that would have been inhumane. So we kept her, caretakers to this little white rodent who much to our dismay was worming her way into our hearts. At the end of our season, when the weather got too cold to keep our unheated office open, the mouse – named Mr. Jingles, after the mouse in the Stephen King book The Green Mile and renamed Miss Jingles when we discovered she had no, ahem, jingly bits – came home with me. I was to be her caretaker, not her owner and certainly not her “Mommie”. I promised myself I was not going to get attached, considering the short lifespan of a mouse!

It’s amazing how animals make the transformation from random creatures that show up on our doorstep to beloved pets. When I brought Jingles home, she was no more than a cute, fuzzy attraction; a curiosity for Tazi, who went from high-fiving her through the class to sitting on top of her tank, jealous of any attention she might receive yet protective of his new friend. With the onset of winter, that tank made its way out of my basement office (it was cold down there) and into the family room upstairs, where my transformation from Caretaker to Mommie was complete. Jingles was no longer just a moral responsibility to me; she was officially a member of the family.

People who know me well know that although I am very outgoing and very spiritual I do not go through life with an open heart towards others. I am slow to trust and even slower to allow people into my inner circle because people can be cruel and the worst kind of people are people who are cruel because they derive some sick form of pleasure out of it. Sometimes it feels like schadenfreude is America’s favorite pastime. People will point and laugh when someone slips and falls, rather than run to their side to assist them; I read letters of others’ misfortunes and wonder how people can be so cruel…then I turn to Tazi and ask him why people cannot be more like pets.

It’s funny how we anthropomorphize our pets, giving them human characteristics and emotions and assuming we know what they are feeling…and I suppose I have received enough Paw Slaps of Disgust from Tazi to know that when I walk past his treat trough and fail to offer a small distribution that he actually is disgusted and angry with me for denying him the savory joy of a nom-nom.

So why do we treat our pets like humans, when it is other humans that cause our miseries? Because humans can also bring us joy and pets give to us the best that humans have to offer with none of the pain. I think the best thing about pets – and the reason Tazi is the face of this column and not me – is that we can trust them to keep our secrets. The dog will no sooner gossip about you behind your back than it would take your new sports car for a joyride and hope you don’t notice that small dent it put in the fender. We can trust our pets to be there for us, no matter how bad a day they have had. Have you ever seen a Labrador retriever in a bad mood?

Over the years I have had many pets – mostly dogs (Tazi is my second cat) and a few childhood fancies, like the pet bunny I got for Easter the year I turned seven or the squirrel that would knock on my front window in hopes of scoring a nut – and the loss of each has never failed to leave a large, gaping hole in my heart. In a way, pets are our children that never outgrow their need for us, never go through the wild, teenage years that make us wonder whatever happened to our sweet little child, never grow up to move away and marry someone that everyone else just knows is a mistake. For those of us who choose to be child-free our pets are our children, and while the loss of one cannot compare to the loss of a human child (nor would I ever compare the two), to lose a pet is to lose an important member of the family – perhaps the one family member that everyone loves best.

This past Tuesday morning Miss Jingles was returned to the park where I work, carried in the hollow of a toilet paper roll, the ends stuffed closed, which was always her favorite place and fashion to nap. It seemed appropriate; I couldn't bear the thought of her fur getting matted and dirty as I lay her in the earth. She was very meticulous about staying clean! As I look out of the door to my office, I can see the field where I placed her earthen vessel; a small boulder streaked with sparkling white quartz marks the spot, and is surrounded on three sides by full blooms of yellow flowers – daisies and seaside goldenrod, a stalk of which I broke off and planted above her remains.

As I walked away I caught myself singing the Hymn of St. Francis. A favorite of mine since childhood I finally understand its meaning; it is in giving of ourselves that we receive. I gave a piece of my heart to a little white mouse and in return received the joy that only unconditional love can bring. Rest in peace, Miss Jingles; you were the luckiest mouse that ever lived…and I was lucky to have had you in my life.

Thank you for listening, dear readers.


Rest in peace, little lady...

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Control Freak" Mother Needs A New Hobby

Dear Tazi:

I love my Mom dearly, but she is the biggest control freak I know! I lived at home until I got engaged, and then I moved in with my fiancé (who is now my husband). Mom assumed that my years under her roof left me completely unprepared to run my own house, so she decided that she needed to teach me how to keep house. At first, I was grateful for the lessons in how to make a home run smoothly, but it has been five years and she still won’t let me run my own household!

Every time my Mom visits me, she feels the need to start rearranging my kitchen drawers “to make them more efficient”, refolding the bathroom towels “the right way”, and going through my pantry to “make sure everything is fresh and healthy”; she will throw out anything that is within six months of expiring and anything she feels is not healthy.  She is driving me NUTS!

If I tell Mom to sit down and relax, she will fidget like crazy – I can tell that she would much rather be reorganizing my laundry shelf than having tea with me. On days such as these mom does manage to control herself, but then a few days later I will come home from work to find that Mom has let herself in and has rearranged everything as she thinks it should look.

How can I get her to stop doing this? I organize my home in such a way that it works for me and my husband. It is not Mom’s way, but that doesn’t mean it is not the right way!

Strangled by Apron Strings

Dear Strangled By Apron Strings:

I think your Mom needs a hobby. You lived at home well into adulthood, and I am guessing that you were the center of your mother’s attention for most of that time. Now that you are an adult who can care for herself, your Mom has a great deal of time on her hands and nothing to do with it; consequently, she is reverting to her old habit of taking care of you.

You do not mention if your mother is married, divorced, or widowed, but I am going to guess that your father is not in the picture – otherwise, she could focus all of her attention on him.  The next time that you and your Mom decide to get together for coffee, why not do so at a local coffee shop? I often see retirees and homemakers gathered at such places for coffee and conversation; it is quite possible that she will see someone she knows and be able to renew old friendships and even if she does not, she will be away from your pantry and linen closets!

To tackle the other half of your problem – your mother’s need to take care of you – I suggest that you keep her in the loop with whatever is going on in your life, and ask her opinion on various events – in your life, your community, and in the world. Your mom needs to feel both needed and valued, and asking her opinion is the best way to accomplish both. Once you have managed to keep some space between your personal areas and your Mom, you can work from there to make sure the changes stick. Suggest a class, a weekly event, or a volunteer project that can keep your mother occupied so her idle hands will not do devilish things to your home.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is She Really Bisexual, Or Just A "Thesbian"?

Dear Tazi:

My college age daughter just told me she is bisexual, but I am not sure if she really is or if she is a “thesbian”. My husband and I are very liberal, and have long been supporters of gay rights and equality for all. While neither of us has a problem with our daughter being bisexual, we are not certain that she actually is – we think she may be pretending in order to seem more attractive to men. Here’s the whole story:

“Brandi” came out by tweeting to all of her friends and followers that she is bisexual. While I realize times have changed and people are more accepting of homosexuality and bisexuality, my husband and I are from a time when people of alternative sexuality were beaten and killed simply for being who they truly are. I think of how Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay, and I get upset when I think my daughter is making a mockery of his legacy.

When I told Brandi that she should take her sexuality a bit more seriously, that posting on Twitter is sure to give the wrong impression, she got angry with me and accused us of not accepting her for who she is. My husband stepped in and told her that was nonsense and that we looked forward to meeting her girlfriends. That was when Brandi rolled her eyes, gave us an, “Oh please” and said “It’s not like that.” She told us that she was still going to be dating men, but letting them know that she enjoyed being with women, too, and that if she found one she liked she may have to stray a little. She told us that she wants to eventually get married and have children, but for now she wants to “have fun” with her sexuality.

Tazi, can you see why I think Brandi is not truly bisexual, but is pretending to be to attract guys? She was never the type to date much in high school, and now that she is in college she is feeling left out as all of her friends start planning their weddings to their high school sweethearts. I am torn about talking to Brandi about her sexuality.  I just want her to know of the struggle generations before her went through to gain acceptance, and for her to appreciate the roads that were paved by others. I want her to really think about what she is doing, and I want to be sure she is not playing games at the expense of someone else’s sacrifice.

Rainbow Mom

Dear Rainbow Mom:

I can understand your hesitance to accept your daughter’s bisexuality, considering the way she publicly announced it; however, times have changed quite a bit over the last few decades and people are both more aware and generally more accepting of same-sex relationships. October 6th will mark 15 years since Matthew Shepard was killed. Perhaps you can sit down with Brandi and talk to her about him as a way to honor his memory, explain to Brandi why you feel as you do, and give her a chance to open up to you on a deeper level than what gets posted to her Twitter feed.

While there is a possibility that Brandi is using her sexuality to get attention from men, this poses the additional issue of what type of man she is hoping to attract, so let’s table that thought for a minute and assume that Brandi really and truly is bisexual. Does she have any kind of support services at her school where she can hang out and feel comfortable and safe? Has she made connections with others in the GLBQT community? Does she plan on having committed or open relationships, and does she understand the importance of protecting herself from STD’s and HIV/AIDS? Does she understand that her attitude could easily lead to being sexually abused by a domineering male partner? Essentially, you need to discuss with her all of the things you would discuss if she were straight, plus a few added questions. Your activism in the gay community should have put you in contact with dozens of people who will be willing to assist you in getting your points across to Brandi without sounding like you are condemning her; lean on them to help.

If it turns out that Brandi is a “thesbian”, as you call her, you will be able to address this issue after she understands that you love and accept her just as she is, but that her behavior is disrespectful to those who truly are bisexual. As with every civil rights movement, people have fought and died in the fight for acceptance; pretending to be bisexual in order to boost your own ego is despicable.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Virgin Shares Her Bed But Not Her Body, Much To Mother's Disbelief

Dear Tazi:

I was raised devoutly Christian and remain so as an adult. I have been blessed to meet a man who respects my beliefs, although he does not share all of them. “Manuel” and I have been dating for three years now, and due to financial difficulties we have decided to move in together. I think this is the right move for our relationship, because we would like to get married someday and I would like to make sure we are compatible as living-mates, as we are as live-mates.

Although we are renting a one-bedroom apartment, Manuel and I are not having sex. I am a virgin and am saving myself for marriage. Manuel respects me, although he admits it is frustrating to sleep in the same bed with me and not be able to consummate our relationship. I have taken to wearing long cotton and flannel night gowns to ease his tensions. My problem is my mother.
Mom does not believe that Manuel and I are maintaining our chastity. She has condemned me for “living in sin” and has told me she will not come to my wedding if I do not “rectify this abomination immediately”. I don’t think she would actually skip my wedding – my brother lived with his girlfriend and was having sex with her (I know because she was three months pregnant by the time their long-planned wedding date rolled around) and Mom still came to his wedding, even after threatening to disown him and calling his wife every name in the Book.

My problem isn’t my fear of losing my relationship with my Mom; it’s her belief that I have turned away from the teachings of my church and her belief that I am lying to her. How can I convince her that I am still the good girl she raised, and will remain that way until my wedding night?

Saving Myself

Dear Saving Myself:

One of the downers of being an adult is needing to take responsibility for your actions. Another downer is cutting the apron strings when you would rather keep them firmly tied in place of the umbilical cord that once kept you attached to your mother. Your mother has accused you of lying; you know you are not. Why do you feel the need to prove to her that you are telling the truth when there is no way – short of a gynecological exam – to prove to her you are still her “good girl”? If your mother cannot take you at your word, this is her problem; you should not be making it yours.

I suggest you meet your Mom for coffee or for lunch or whatever you feel comfortable doing as you broach this subject with her. Tell your mother that you are disappointed with her. Explain that she raised you in faith, and that you continue to follow that faith; her accusations against you are hurtful and untrue. Tell her what you have told me: that you want to make sure that you and Manuel are as compatible as living-mates as you are as life-mates, and that living together not only accomplishes this end but also helps to save money, which you can put towards the wedding you hope to one day have.

One a somewhat related note, for the sake of Manuel’s mental health, your mother’s concerns, and general appearances, you might want to give up the double bed and invest in a set of twin beds (your mother may even want to assist with the cost). This compromise is not ideal, but compromises rarely are.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vegetarian Clashes With In-Laws Over How To Raise Her Child

Dear Tazi:

I am a vegetarian (non-vegan) and a new Mom. My husband became a vegetarian before I met him, but was not raised a vegetarian as I was; his family still eats meat. I am not one of those sanctimonious vegetarians that everyone sees in the news and assumes that all vegetarians are like that. I eat a vegetarian diet because it is how I was raised and I believe in the health principles of a plant based diet. Numerous studies have shown that red meat is not a healthy choice, and most of the animal products farmed today are full of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals that are not good for our bodies. These are the reasons my parents went vegetarian, raised me vegetarian, and why my husband and I are raising our daughter vegetarian.

My mother-in-law, “Francine” cannot understand the value of a vegetarian diet and has accused us of “abusing” our baby daughter because we are not feeding her meat. I have tried to explain to her that as a newborn she should not be getting anything but breast milk and that once we start her on solid food she will eat a plant based diet – grains and veggies at first, and legumes when she is old enough. Francine insists that a child needs meat to grow up healthy and strong.

I have heard Francine’s rants before – all through my pregnancy, when she insisted I needed to eat meat “for the sake of the baby” – and I can turn a deaf ear to them, but she has crossed a line and I am not sure how to deal with it. Francine called child welfare services on me (making no mention of my husband, her son) to ask for a welfare check on my baby, claiming that I was abusing her! When child welfare arrived they obviously found nothing wrong. They refused to tell me who made the complaint, but I was able to figure out that it was Francine when they told me that someone complained that I was “starving” my child.

Hen my husband got home from his office that night, I told him what happened and although he was upset he said we had no proof that it was his Mom who called; it could have been one of his brothers, but yes it would have been at Francine’s bidding. I would like to approach my mother-in-law about this matter, but my husband would prefer to let it go, claiming no harm; no foul. What’s your impartial opinion?

Feeling Fouled

Dear Feeling Fouled:

As offensive as Francine’s behavior was (and yes, I too believe that she was behind the complaint; if not directly than indirectly) there is not proof that she actually reported you to child services. However, if she did I am sure she is just dying to find out when it happened, what was said, and how you reacted to the visit. Don’t give her that satisfaction! By leaving her to wonder about the outcome she will undoubtedly find a way to bring up the subject, at which point you can thank her for her concern and explain that child services is 100% on your side. Try not to argue with Francine about this matter, but plainly state that her job as a grandmother is to love the child; the job of raising her belongs to you and your husband. As embarrassing as a visit from social services must have been, they now have it on record that your daughter is healthy and residing in a good home.

I can see how Francine’s heavy-handedness will be a problem down the road – if she is ever left alone with your daughter through mealtimes, I can easily see her presenting your girl with a hamburger or a piece of fried chicken and suggesting that she give it a try. If your daughter grows up to be like most children, she will immediately reply “I don’t like that!” to any unfamiliar food that is presented. As a vegetarian parent, I am sure you already know it will be up to you to teach your child about her special diet; until she is old enough to understand and recognize these parameters on her own you may want to limit Francine’s mealtime visits.



P.S. NPR offers some great tips on raising a vegetarian child, starting with telling the pediatrician about it! 

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Termination Of Parental Rights Difficult, More So When Child Is Native American

Dear Tazi:

My eight year old daughter is the light of my life and I would do anything I can to make her happy – but I am stuck and don’t know what to do right now. “Amy’s” father walked out on us while I was eight months pregnant. My current husband, “Gerald”, is the only father Amy has ever known. Amy knows that he is not her “real” father but she calls Gerald “Daddy” and tells him that she wants him to be her “real Daddy”. Amy has friends who are adopted, and she has told us on several occasions that she wants Gerald to adopt her.

Gerald and I have always shielded Amy from the truth of why he has not legally adopted her, telling her that the legal process can be tricky and she needs to be old enough to tell the judge that this is her idea and that she will not be changing her mind when she gets a little older. Up until now, she has seemed satisfied with that explanation, but for the past few years, as her birthday approaches, she asks if she is old enough for Gerald to adopt her.

Tazi, the truth is that Amy’s father was a Native American Indian and his tribe has made quite a bit of wealth through casino gaming – wealth that comes to Amy through tribe-sponsored child support and eventually benefits that every adult member of the tribe receives, should she decide that tribal membership is what she wants; so far, she has had no involvement in her father’s culture. Because of the way the law works with Indian children, Gerald and I would have to petition the tribe for a release for Gerald to adopt her. If Amy’s birth father decides he wants to be a part of her life again, I will be forced to allow that to happen – even though he is a lazy drunkard who abandoned me while I was pregnant! Even if he does not want anything to do with Amy, she would lose a lot of financial benefits if Gerald were to adopt her – from the child support I now receive to vestment in the tribe.

While I admit the child support money is helpful, I would make do without it if that was all Amy stood to lose. I only want what is best for my daughter and the future that she currently has is perfectly secure, while her present home life is a happy one. How can I risk throwing that all away? How can I explain to her why I have decided as I have – to not let Gerald legally adopt Amy?

Amy’s Mom

Dear Amy’s Mom:

If your decision was solely a financially motivated one my answer would be different than the one I am going to provide. A secure financial future is never a guarantee; casinos can and do fail, as many are in the current economy. If you can “make do” without your daughter’s child support your best move to provide her a secure financial future would be to save and invest that money on her behalf. So ends one part of your problem. Now to address the more complicated part: the legalities of terminating parental rights.

The termination of parental rights is difficult under mainstream circumstances, but your daughter’s direct Native American heritage invokes the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA 1978). I have no doubt that your daughter’s tribe is going to want a say in things, especially if her father lives on the reservation. I cannot say I disagree with this legislation.

The purpose of the ICWA is to ensure that Native American children are given the opportunity to be come culturally aware of their heritage and to participate in tribal customs and celebrations; to be taught history from the tribal point of view (which differs vastly from what you read in most history books); and to allow the child to maintain ties with his or her extended tribal family. Have you done any of this for Amy? Or have you simply erased all sense of anything having to do with her birth father?

I suggest that you contact your local Bureau of Indian Affairs and ask for an appointment to discuss your situation. At eight years old, Amy is at an age where she will have questions about who she is and where she came from (and I don’t mean that in a purely biological sense). When her birth father abandoned you, he also cut Amy off from any connection to her tribal family – aunts, uncles, cousins, and others who are a part of who she is. What is best for your daughter is not always the easiest path for you as a parent.

Explain to the Bureau representative that your child’s father (ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, ex-lover…whatever he is) cut off all contact with you when you were eight months pregnant. Explain that he was an unemployed alcoholic and the habits he exhibited. You call him “a drunkard” which leads me to believe he was violent, as well. The Bureau of Indian Affairs should be willing to work with you on this matter to ensure that your daughter’s welfare is put first at all times. Although it is unusual for parental rights to be terminated by the tribe (who would have jurisdiction if your ex lives on tribal lands), arrangements can be made to protect your daughter.

Although Gerald may not be able to legally adopt Amy, there are things you can do as a family to make Amy feel like she is part of a complete circle. I suggest that you have your own, family-oriented “adoption ceremony” or, if you are religious, ask your clergy to bless you as a family in the eyes of your church or synagogue. Make the event special for Amy; something that she will always remember. It will be especially important to do this if Amy is to get involved with her tribal family. She needs to know that even though legal bonds can be dissolved, those tied with heartstrings can never be broken.



Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Roommate From Hell" Makes College Living Unbearable

Dear Tazi:

I just started my sophomore year of college and have been assigned the worst roommate ever. The guy is a disgusting slob. He leaves dirty sweat socks and underwear all over the place, he smells bad because he never showers, and he has got to weigh close to 400 pounds which makes him sweat like a pig. I am telling you, he is the roommate from Hell!

“Joe” and I live in the newly built dormitory on campus, and the place is state of the art so everyone wants to live in it. Upperclassmen get first choice but since so many of them move off campus into apartments a lottery is held among underclassmen for the remaining slots. This is how Joe and I got assigned as roommates.

This past summer I tore my ACL while playing soccer, so I need the bottom bunk in my room; there is just no way I am able to climb up to the top bunk. Joe refuses to take the top bunk, and I suppose that is a good thing considering his size, so he has separated the beds. This means that where there was once open space there is now a bed, making the room very, very crowded, even without a roommate that takes up a lot of space (with his stuff that he spreads everywhere; that wasn’t a crack on his size).

Joe is constantly snacking and leaves wrappers and dirty dishes and soda cans everywhere, so even though the school year just started and we live in a new residence hall, we got ants and had to have the place exterminated. Because it’s a shared room, we BOTH got written up for uncleanliness leading to room damage, so I have been docked my damage deposit. I am appealing this since it was Joe’s trash that attracted the bugs.

Last night was the final straw. It was early in the evening – only about 8:00 – when Joe flopped onto his bed and pulled out a [dirty magazine]. He started [masturbating] right in front of me! I was so freaked out and grossed out that I had to say something, to which he replied that if I didn’t like it I could leave. I ended up going to the library to read rather than hang around there, but I don’t think I should be driven from my own room because of this guy. When I got back to the room, he hadn’t completely cleaned up after himself – wadded up tissues were on the floor by his bed.

I would like to put in for a new roommate, but that means I will be the one who has to move, not Joe, and the other dorms on campus are not nearly as nice as the one I am in now – or rather, as nice as the one I am in now could be if I didn’t have to contend with Joe and his disgusting smells and habits. Everyone who has met him comments on how nasty he is, and wonders how I can put up with him. Tazi, can you think of any way I can get rid of this guy while keeping my dorm room?

Wanting To Eat My Cake And Have It, Too

P.S. I used to tease my girlfriend about how much she “would love to have a problem worthy of print” for your column; now I have one all my own!

Dear Wanting To Eat My Cake And Have It, Too:

Where do I start? I am so excited that you phrased that old expression properly – because it is possible to have your cake and then eat it, but once you eat your cake you cannot still have it! I am also flattered that your girlfriend loves my column so much that she wants to be a part of it – thank her for me, for her loyal readership! I would argue that your teasing has earned you your predicament, but no one deserves such living conditions, so I will just sit here and appreciate the irony of your situation…mmmmmm, irony! It’s like cake for the snarky in me!

Your problem, although disgusting and extreme, is not exclusive to you. A lot of people have problems with roommates who have lower standards of cleanliness than they. Joe’s personal hygiene (or rather, lack thereof) and his personal habits cross the line between difference of personal preference into outright abuse. You should not be forced to move out of your residence hall because of this abuse.

Is he as bad as this?

If you have not done so already, I suggest you follow up on your appeal of the damage assessment of your room and tell the powers that be that Joe is the one who caused the damage and that he refuses to change his habits. Invariably, another call to the exterminator will be needed if he keeps up with his casual housekeeping and it may be possible to have him evicted for it. However, you need to document the situation. Take pictures of your room – if you can, while Joe is sitting there surrounded by his own filth – as proof of who is doing the damage.

Joe’s personal habits are a little less easy to bring under control. You cannot force a person to shower, but you might be able to report him to one of the Resident Assistant’s for his masturbating in front of you; this is a form of indecent exposure. You should not be forced to leave your room because of his behavior; if you can bring yourself to report it to an RA the next time it occurs, you can mention that it is not the first time this has happened. RA’s are trained to deal with all sorts of uncomfortable situations, and this will be further documentation of his casual and careless treatment of your shared space. Again, with any luck, Joe will be evicted from the dormitory. If eviction does not occur by the end of the semester, you may have to resign yourself to moving into a new room, and possibly into a new residence hall. It would be the lesser of two evils.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fear Of Flying Leaves Long-Distance Traveler Exploring Other Options

Dear Tazi:

I am a college freshman going to school several states away from home. In order to get here with all of my stuff, my parents drove me; freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, so mine is back home. I have only been here a week and already my mother is asking me about booking airfare home for the Thanksgiving weekend. Tazi, I am afraid to fly!

I have never told my parents of my fear because I have never had reason to fly before, but after 9/11 I have been petrified of terrorists taking over a plane. The thought of going through the invasive security check – where you practically have to strip naked – leaves me preferring alternate means of transportation. It is an hour ride to the train station, but my roommate has offered to take me since it is practically on her way home anyway, and the train ride would be eight hours back to my home, at which point I would need someone to pick me up from the train station, which is about another hour from where I live (the airport is only half an hour away).

When I suggested to my Mom that it might be easier – and a whole lot cheaper – to take the train home my Mom laughed and said not to worry about the cost, that they would cover it. The cost is not my worry! I would much rather spend the entire day traveling by train than have to spend an entire day hanging around the airport to catch my first flight and then a transfer flight for a three hour flight. In the end, the time involved is roughly the same but my comfort level would be much greater. How can I convince my Mom to let me take the train home?

Scaredy Boo

Dear Scaredy Boo:

You could tell your Mom that you are afraid to fly, I am sure she would understand. You will have to tell her soon, though, before she buys you a non-refundable plane ticket home; at that point, I would advise you to suck it up, buttercup, and hop on that big bird home.

Right now, your Mom is missing you something awful, and Thanksgiving is what she is hanging her heart on; she may not be thinking clearly about how much time is involved in air travel, and does not realize that a high speed express train could have you back home just as quickly as a plane ride.

If you are too embarrassed to tell your Mom that you are afraid to fly then tell her that taking a plane would be much more of a hassle for you – getting there (do you even have a ride or would you have to take a taxi?); getting through security; sitting around while waiting for your connecting flight; possibly dealing with air sickness; and arriving exhausted from a full day of travel. On the other hand you could accompany your roommate on her way home from school so she doesn’t have to drive alone; board the train without “practically having to strip naked”; and take an uninterrupted trip because there is not transfer involved. Tell your Mom you will arrive fresher and more ready to visit with people than you would if you travel by air; this should cinch your argument for you. Now go call your Mom and tell her that you love her and look forward to seeing her at the train station!


P.S. Amtrak offers discounted fares for students!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Single Mom Needs Emergency Help, Brother Not Sure He Can Be There

Dear Tazi:

My sister was a late-in-life single Mom. She was in a terrible car accident recently and it doesn’t look too good for her – she is going to need several months of in-hospital rehabilitative therapy. Our Mom has been watching my sister’s five year old daughter for her, but Mom is in her seventies and can’t keep up with a young kid. This leaves me.

“Rita” is planning on asking me to take guardianship of her daughter, “Callie” while she is in rehab. I am single, never married, and have no children. I would have no clue how to care for a five year old girl even if I had any desire to do it. I travel a lot for work, so I would have to leave her with my Mom or someone while I was away…it’s just a bad, bad situation all around and I am afraid I will only make it worse – either by telling Rita no when she asks me to watch Callie or by saying yes and making the lives of everyone involved miserable. What do I do???

Bachelor Uncle

Dear Bachelor Uncle:

You explain to your sister that your job makes it impossible for you to be the full-time parent that her daughter needs and that you will do everything you can to assist her and her daughter in any other way possible. This means assisting with transportation to and from the rehab center, being there for Callie as a father figure when she needs one, offering whatever financial assistance you are able, and helping to make Callie feel like she is a welcome and loved member of her extended family, and not a burden to be pawned off on others. You may be surprised at just how well you do helping to raise Callie, and at the strong bond that could develop between the two of you.

If your sister has a close friend with whom she would trust Callie (such as a Godparent) it is time to call on that person. If you live in a small town or close knit community, put out a call for assistance; I am sure someone will be more than happy to open up their home to Callie while her mother works to recover from her injuries. An absolute last resort would be to place Callie in a foster home until her mother is again able to care for her. Are you that heartless? I certainly hope not.

Snuggles (Maybe),

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Work-From-Home Mom SHOCKED At What Other Mother Did!

Dear Tazi:

I am a full-time professional who happens to work from home. I am not a freelancer, but a telecommuter so I cannot make my own hours; I work within a set of parameters that allow for flexibility, but I still have to put in a full day of work and meet all of my deadlines – I must put in eight documented (although not necessarily consecutively worked) hours between the hours of 7 AM – 10 PM. This wonderful arrangement has allowed me to work full-time and be there for my children before and after school, and for my husband to work as a long-haul trucker during the week. So what is my problem?

Because I am home during the day, people assume that I can take time out to have coffee; go shopping; run errands for them; and generally be the after-school dumping ground for all of their children. While I have absolutely no issue with chaperoning field trips or a play date on a rotating schedule, running to the store for a friend who is ill, or even breaking for coffee with a friend I cannot maintain such a schedule on a daily basis; doing so would result in me working from 7 AM – 10 PM every day just to complete my requisite 8 hour days and to meet all of my deadlines.

I have brought this matter up at the monthly PTA meeting at school, and most of the Moms understand, but there are a few who feel that I am being a “princess”, claiming that their work day starts before 7 AM as they get the kids off to school and ends well after 10 PM as they try to get all of their house chores done. I finally snapped and told them that it is not my problem that their husbands refuse to help out around the house! This elicited a few laughs, a few cold stares, and few silent treatments – nothing I cannot handle. So long as they take it out on me and not my children, I am fine.

Long letter short (too late! Feel free to edit it!) one mother has taken it upon herself to have her child come over my house every day after school. The first few times it happened I thought my son had invited a friend home without asking, and I let it slide. The third time it happened I sat him down and told him that he cannot have his friend over to play every day; that Mommy has “Mommy things” that need to be done, and that he needs to ask me if it is okay to bring a friend home. I thought he was simply trying to avoid punishment when he told me that his friend’s Mom told her child to come over my house after school and play until she gets home from work. I lectured my son about lying and asked him if he would like to tell me the truth, but he insisted that he was telling the truth. I asked his friend about this, and his friend confirmed that this is what his mother had instructed.

Thinking that the children were playing a joke on me, I called the boy’s mother and asked if she knew that her son had been coming to my house after school all week; she replied yes, she knew, and that she had instructed him to do it since I was the one parent she knew would be home during the after school hours, and that I needed to learn to pull my load if I wanted our children to remain friends. Tazi, I was flabbergasted! I was actually flabbergasted!

This woman basically told me that unless I provide her with free after-school child care my son can no longer play with her son. My son loves playing with his friend, and as I have said I don’t mind chaperoning a play date on a rotating or even a reciprocal schedule, but this is ridiculous! I am not comfortable transporting another person’s child in my car, so I can forget about running errands with my child during after-school hours; nor am I comfortable leaving the children unattended while I work in my office (much of what I do involves translation and transcription, so I have headphones on the entire time). What in the world should I do????


Dear Flabbergasted:

I, too, am flabbergasted at this woman’s nerve! My usual sangfroid has been pierced by her use of her child as a tool to blackmail you. A Paw slap of Disgust for her, and not the kinder, gentler paw slap – claws out on this one!

If your son is able to play with his friend at school – during recess, lunch, physical education – or at a mutual friend’s home, then you may have to curb their friendship to these events only, if having the boy over every day and providing free child-care is the only way to have him over your house.

One way around this evil woman’s demands is to sign your son up for some after-school activities – sports, arts and crafts, marital arts, whatever sparks his interest. Such activities usually meet one to two days a week, so signing him up for two activities will be plenty to fill his after-school time. Your son’s school or your local community center probably offers such opportunities at affordable prices. Once your son’s after-school time is booked, there is no reason for his friend to come over your house. Inform this friend’s mother of that fact, and let her know that she will need to find an alternate source of child-care on the days your son is not home.

If she continues to instruct your son to go to your house after school, call your local community police office (there should be a non-emergency number in the phone book) and explain that the woman has instructed her child to go to your house; your son is not home and you do not wish to take the child into your care for the afternoon; and that there is nobody home at his house. The law officer will take it from there. While this action is extreme, it will be what is necessary to make this woman take responsibility for her child and to stop taking advantage of you. I can guarantee you that once is all it will take to make her stop.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Adopted Child Discovers Who She Is, Fears Rejection From Family

Dear Tazi:

I was adopted as a baby, and with my family’s encouragement I decided to look for my birth parents now that I am an adult, getting married, and planning on starting a family of my own. There are questions I need answered, and the only way to get them was to look for my birth family. Well, I found them, and they were overjoyed to meet me. There is just one problem – my parentage is of mixed race, and my adoptive family is terribly racist, so I have not told them that I have found and met with my birth parents.

My birth mother is very light-skinned, and probably at least half-white considering her features (which I have quite obviously inherited), but is still black just the same; my birth-father is quite obviously black. They were just teenagers when I was born and decided to put me up for adoption so I would have a better life than they could offer me. Meeting them – and knowing that I am black and not olive-skinned – has set me on ear. Although I do not consider myself to be racist (I do have black friends, and they don’t seem to think I am a racist) I have grown up my whole life hearing how black people are lazy, poor, and the kind who take no responsibility for their actions. After leaving my birth parents home, all I could hear was my adoptive father’s words ringing in my ears about how [black people] go and have kids without any ways to support them and expect the state to care for their “mistakes”. I felt sick to my stomach thinking that, in my adoptive father’s eyes, I am a “mistake”.

I want desperately for my birth family to be a part of my life and to introduce them to my adoptive family, but I can’t see how that would ever happen. I want to invite my birth parents – and my birth brothers and sister – to my wedding next year, but how do I do that? My adoptive family will find out that I am actually black and completely reject me, I just know it. I don’t want to deny my birth family or keep them a secret, but I can’t see my adoptive family welcoming them with open arms. Or me, once they know who I really am. How can I resolve this situation? My fiancé knows, and he is fine with everything; he has said he can’t wait to meet my birth family and is being very supportive of me. I feel like I am going to have to trade one family for the other.

Passing…Without Even Knowing It

Dear Passing…Without Even Knowing It:

Your letter is one of the most heart-wrenching letters I have ever received, and the most difficult I have ever had to answer. My heart goes out to you, and I will pray that your adoptive family members are able to overcome their prejudices and accept your birth family into your life and theirs.

Racism is an ugly, ugly trait that can be difficult to overcome – not only for the victims of it, but for those who hold such beliefs that they are somehow superior to others. While I cannot see your adoptive family rejecting you – and I am sure they will be full of excuses as to why you are an “exception” because you are their daughter – it is going to take a great deal of time and understanding on the part of both families before any sort of true acceptance can take place.

The sooner you tell your adoptive parents that you have found your birth parents the better. By keeping them a secret your adoptive parents may think that you are ashamed of your birth parents (considering the way your adoptive parents believe) and you will need to correct them of any such notion. Sit down with your adoptive parents and tell them the truth – that you have found your adoptive family, met with them, and that they are wonderful people who chose to place you for adoption because they were young and unable to give you the kind of life they wanted for you. Tell your adoptive parents that your birth parents are grateful that you were raised to be such a competent, caring adult and that you had a wonderful childhood with all the things that they hoped adoption would provide. Add any other sentiments you feel are appropriate or that you feel need to be said. Then, add that there is just one thing that you know will be of a bother to your adoptive parents, but that you would like them to work on getting past it for your sake, and explain to your adoptive parents that you are not olive skinned, but black. Your adoptive parents may already know this, but if they don’t it is a good way to reveal that, “quite obviously”, your birth parents are also black.

People with strongly held views tend to make exceptions for those they love; I hope that your adoptive parents will be willing to see past their racist views and look at the situation through the eyes of love. Explain to them that you want your birth parents – and your birth siblings – to be a part of your life, and that you will be working on developing a relationship with them, and that you plan on inviting them to your wedding. Be prepared for objections from your adoptive parents, but be firm in telling them that any rejection of your birth family is a rejection of you. Remind them that your birth parents are your blood, a phrase that tends to diffuse resentments and build loyalties.

I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that bridges can be built between both sets of your parents. Although I doubt they will change their racist views, perhaps your adoptive parents can learn to judge people on a case by case basis. This is all we can ever ask of anyone. Please write back and let me (and my readers) know how things go.



Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's Tazi's Second Anniversary! Let's Celebrate!

Dear Readers,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your loyalty over the past two years! It has been a wonderful, bumpy, amazing ride here at Ask Tazi! but I would not have it any other way! Another year has rolled by and this "two week" experimental project is reaching greater and greater heights! For all of you who have shared, re-posted, and forwarded my columns, thank you! Word of mouth is the only way my column travels, and it is closing in on 100,000 lifetime page views. While that is only a drop in the bucket compared to the big, viral blogs out there I am proud that my part-time, barely marketed gig with no merchandising whatsoever (hi, Grumpy Cat!) has done so well!

In honor of my anniversary, I am presenting my Top 5 favorite letters (well, six; I have a two-fer in there)  and/or columns of the year - I hope your favorites are among them! In fact, I am pretty sure they are, since they did so well the first time they were published. Share the love!

...and my web address!

In this first letter, an elderly woman was upset that someone's dog was sharing the love by pooping in her yard! This letter hit home with a lot of people. How about the solutions offered?

Neighbor's Yard Is Not The Place To DropYour Dog's Droppings

I indulged my ego, and you dear readers indulged me! This one was a very popular piece!

Mother-in-Law letters are common, but this one just about broke my heart...although the visual images I was left with made me want to scrub my brain with lye soap!

Dating is complicated (my lady friend recently left me for another cat!!) and these letters discuss one aspect of relationships: dealbreakers. What are your dealbreakers?

I re-posted this one while I was on vacation, in honor of my Mommie's graduation from the University of Rhode Island - summa cum laude, with her degree in Gender and Women's Studies

Do you have a favorite letter? Request it in the Comments section of today's column or tweet me @TaziKat and I will re-run it for you! Got a problem of your own that you would like me to discuss? Email me at or through the form provided on my site!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Insecure Wife Thinks Husband Is Crushing On Another Woman

Dear Tazi:

My husband is in love with another woman. He denies it, but I see the way he looks at her in church and I know that he drives the long way home just so he can drive past her house (my friends have seen him); he says it is because there is less traffic on that route.

“Melanie” is blonde, curvy, and the perfect height for my husband. She has never had children so she has been able to keep her weight down and her figure looking fabulous because she also has time to go to the gym. She has a glamorous job as a bartender for a popular, upscale dining club and she drives a cute little sports car. She is also ten years younger than me and looks ten years younger than that! I on the other hand am taller than my husband, which I know he hates even though he says he’s fine with it; I am a plus-size woman because I was never able to lose the weight I gained after I had my son; I drive an aging minivan; and work in an office. I suppose I could be described as frumpy, especially when compared to Melanie. Why wouldn’t my husband fall for her? “Deek” only married me because I threatened to leave him and take our son (who was a newborn) with me.

Deek and I were only dating a short time when I got pregnant, and I was so in love I was thought I had enough love for the both of us to make our marriage work. The first few years were a stressful adjustment, but I brushed off those stresses as anything newlyweds with a new baby would experience. By the time my son reached school age I knew my marriage was not working, but by that time Deek was taking classes towards a professional certificate and could not afford to leave me. I thought if we could wait it out we could work things out.

When my son turned six, Deek decided it was time for us to start going to church and for our son to receive his sacraments. Deek was a churchgoer growing up but I never was; however, I let him take our son every week hoping Deek would see how far I was willing to go to make him happy. I did not go to my son’s First Communion because I was sick that day, but I could see how disappointed he was so I promised not to miss his confirmation when he turned sixteen. Well, that was a few months ago and after seeing Melanie in the congregation I had my suspicions as to why my husband like church so much!

I decided to start going to Sunday mass with Deek and our son, and they both seemed happy that I would be joining them. I’ve been going all summer now and I see how Deek looks at Melanie. The worst part is when she comes up to me after the mass to say hello and ask how I am doing. I know it is just an excuse to talk to Deek! That woman will take him any way she can! She even had the nerve to offer us a gift certificate to the dinner club where she works as a wedding anniversary present! She said she thought we might like an evening of dinner and dancing, but I know she is just trying to sneak in some time with Deek! I just know it! Why else would she offer? (She claims that she gets one a month to do with what she’s like, and that she was so glad to finally meet me after all these years that she wanted to do something nice for me! Ha!). Deek would like to use the gift certificate, but I told him my thoughts on the whole matter and he told me I am being crazy.

Tazi, can you think of a way that I can prove Deek is cheating on me with Melanie? It may only be an affair of the heart, but that is how these things start – then the next thing you know I will be in divorce court! I am betting that Deek is just waiting for our son to turn 18 so he doesn’t have to pay child support! I am heartbroken over this, and want to save my marriage, but how can I compete with Melanie?

Brokenhearted In New England

Dear Brokenhearted In New England:

I am going to say this in the nicest way a kitty cat knows how, which is to say I am going to be blunt: You need to talk to a professional counselor about your low self-esteem issues. You need to learn to trust your husband when he tells you he is not in love with Melanie. You need to ask yourself this very important question: Has Melanie ever expressed the slightest romantic interest in your husband, or is she in a happily committed relationship of her own?

While your marriage may not have had the most fairy-tale beginning that does not mean that it cannot have its own version of and they lived happily ever after. Please stop comparing yourself to Melanie; you do not know what her life is like and it is possible that she envies you – not for your husband, specifically, but for the lovely life you have – a husband, a son, a minivan, and a womanly figure that proudly bears the marks of motherhood. I know of many young women who have struggled with infertility and would gladly give up their “fabulous” figures in return for a child. Melanie may very well be one of these women. You cannot know what another person’s life is like until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Happily Ever After rarely is...

Since your husband and son seemed genuinely happy that you would be joining them for church services, take them at their word and continue to go if this is something you enjoy. After services, try to approach Melanie on your own and get to know her independent of your husband; she may very well  be looking to make friends and be hoping for your acceptance – which could be why she gave you such a nice anniversary present!

Last of all, I would like to say that there is a big difference between having an innocent crush on someone and being in love with that person. It is possible that your husband has a crush on Melanie. Haven’t you ever noticed how good-looking another man is? This does not mean that you are ready to throw away your marriage and commit your life to this man; it just means that you are human and have an appreciation for a pretty face and a charming personality. This, too, shall pass, I am sure, leaving you wondering why you were so upset in the first place.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tazi’s Corner #57 – Home vs. Schooling

Dear Readers: 

I recently had the uncapitulated joy of clinging to my Mommie as she left for work. There was a bad thunderstorm going on and, as any pet owner knows, we four-legged children do not do well with loud noises. Like it or not, Mommie was stuck with me as I dug my claws into her shirt and accompanied her to her workplace, a local park (she does ecological stuff). I soon regretted this decision.

Lacking my Tazi Sack I had nowhere to snuggle up for a long day of napping and was forced to hide under the desk on the cold, concrete floor. I was treated to a view of feet and the sounds of screaming children who apparently had never been taught how to behave in public. This brings me to the subject of today’s column: Just how much should schools be required to teach and what should parents be responsible for teaching?

I love my Tazi Sack!

Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and my Mommie was just a schoolgirl children were taught proper behaviors – good table manners, how to behave in public, respect for elders (even if they were not your parent), and other ideals that are no longer as fashionable. These habits were taught at home by parents and grandparents; by the time a child was school-age they knew enough not to bite the other children; that hitting an animal is in bad form; that chewing with your mouth open is rude; and that when you enter someone else’s house you obey their house rules, even if they differ from your own. Perhaps most importantly it was taught that when the adult in charge tells you to do something, you do it; that they have a reason for needing things done the way they have asked them to be done and that the child is not to talk back to authority; that is the job of the parent, should they feel that their child was treated unfairly. Are such lessons still being taught in the majority of U.S. households today?

During my short visit to the workplace I witnessed primary school-age children (ages 5 – 10) acting like heathens! When my Mommie requested that they use their “inside voices” while inside her small office; the children ignored her. When she implored the parents to control their children, the parents would respond with some variation of “they’re just excited”. Hmm…so you are telling me that excitement is an excuse for prolonged poor behavior? I can’t wait to let the dog know that! Does this mean you will excuse him when he pees all over your rugs because he is so excited to see you? I didn't think so.

Like animals, children need to be socialized. They need to be taught that what is acceptable behavior for the home may not be acceptable behavior outside of the home. For example, stripping naked and running around in the buff may fly in the privacy of your living room but few will smile if your toddler does that in the middle of Sunday church services. Allowing your child to scream and “express” him or her self in whatever manner they choose may fly at the family dinner table, but I can assure you most restaurant diners – especially those who have worked hard to get their children to behave in a more socially acceptable manner – do not have the same appreciation for a child’s loud and repetitive rendition of the chorus to “Kiss Him Goodbye”. This observation begs the question: at what age should children be expected to behave in a civil manner?

True story: The kid would not...stop...singing it!

I have met children as young as three who understand that please and thank you are appropriate ways of showing respect for someone who has done them a kindness, and children as old as ten whose parents feel that such rules are a little too grown-up for their child, and that when the time comes he or she will learn it at school from watching their classmates or by following their teacher’s example. Just how much are our schools expected to teach? What is the appropriate age that society in general should expect a child to understand the basic principles of good manners?

I come into contact with a lot of teachers, from both near and far, because for some reasons teachers like me I am a quiet and well-behaved cat (most of the time) who enjoys a good snuggle (most of the time; other times I just tolerate it). Some of these teachers have gladly shared with me the following horror stories to print (on the condition that their names and locations remain anonymous) so you, dear readers, can see just how much some parents expect teachers to teach and/or tolerate:

A second grader who thought it was okay to swear at the teacher because he was allowed to swear at home. (The child’s parents were trying to break him of the habit and were hoping ignoring it would make it go away).

A third grader who jumped on his desk while the teacher had his back turned (he was writing on the blackboard) and then proceeded to jump the teacher because “Daddy and I play like this at home”.  I blame the parents for the teacher’s injuries.

A fifth grader who told his teacher she was “smokin’ hot”. When sent to the principal’s office, he said that his parents always taught him it was “healthy” to express his emotions and not to keep them bottled up.

A child who insisted on calling her teacher by her first name, instead of “Mrs. Smith” because her parents thought the teacher’s (real) last name was too hard for their child to pronounce. (In their defense, they suggested the child call the teacher “Mrs. [Last Initial]” or “Miss [First Name]” but the kid decided to abbreviate even that because that’s what she calls her “aunties who aren’t real aunties” and the teacher was not an auntie of any kind).

And finally, there is my personal, all-time favorite…

A first grader who was not yet potty-trained because her parents didn't want to “rush” her and believed that she would train when she was ready. The teacher noticed a nasty smell emanating from the student and when she asked the child what it was she replied, “My diaper. I did poops. Will you change me?” (The teacher sent the child to the school nurse, who called the child’s parents and received the aforementioned explanation. And no, the child is not autistic).

I think we can all agree that the line is drawn here; toilet-training belongs at home, not elementary school.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Responsible Teenager...Is Still A Teenager!

Dear Tazi:

I am 18 years old and I have worked since I was 16; part-time during the school year and full-time during vacations. I work as a waitress at a very popular diner, and because I work hard to turn my tables and keep a pleasant personality with all of my customers I earn quite a bit of money in tips (especially from my regulars). Now that I have finished high school I have decided to attend college part-time while I try to figure out what I want to do with my life and work full-time at the diner. I truly love waitressing, but I know that I cannot make it my life’s work. I think I would like to one day own my own diner; my boss says that he cannot do it forever, and his kids don’t want to take over the business so maybe someday I will. Again, I am not certain that I want to do this, but I am taking a class in business and a class in basic accounting at the local campus of my state college while I think things through. My Mom is okay with all of this, so long as I continue my education. You are probably wondering why I am writing to you!

I have almost $30,000 cash saved from work (I told you I do well with tips!) and I would like to buy a new truck. My Mom is flipping out over the idea of putting all my money into a vehicle, but I do not want to take a loan. Because of my age I have no credit history so I would be paying a high interest rate. Mom can’t co-sign because she is not creditworthy (her divorce left her credit in the dumpster a few years ago and she hasn’t completely rebuilt it yet). I pay rent and board every month (have been since I started working), and continue to live at home in order to help out my Mom and I have never missed a payment. This is my money that I have earned through my own hard work, and I think I should be able to spend it as I want, so long as I am responsible with it. It’s not like I am taking it to the riverboat casino and gambling it away!

My Mom has always been good to me, but I am an adult now and I think I should have some say in my own financial matters. Her Mom, my Granny, has taken my side and told Mom that she can’t control me forever, but that just made Mom angry; she doesn't get along very well with Granny. Mom suggested I ask someone impartial for advice and she agreed to “seriously consider” their opinion. I know I could take the money and buy a truck without her leave, but she is my Mom and I would like to respect her. We both love cats, so I have decided to ask you for your impartial opinion.

Truck Girl

Dear Truck Girl:

You sound like a very mature and responsible young woman and I admire the respect you have for your mother. It can be very hard for a Mom to let go and to allow her child to grow up, and buying a vehicle – and paying cash for it – is a very grown up decision. You have managed to save quite a bit of money in a very short time. This represents a great deal of hard work and sacrifice on your part, as well as a financial safety net for the future. I can understand why your mother would want you to save some of it for emergencies, but I can also understand why you do not want to pay high finances charges due to your age and a lack of credit history. I am going to suggest a compromise:

Put 50% of the cost down in cash and finance the remainder over 24 – 36 months (the optimal amount of time for the lowest finance charges). In order to establish initial credit, apply for a credit card in your name only and use it to pay for things you would normally pay for with cash. Pay off the balance in its entirety at the end of every month. This way you are building a credit history and avoiding finance charges. After five or six months you will have enough of a credit history to bring your interest rate down to a reasonable level. Check out various financing offers through or any other clearinghouse that will send your information to multiple banks that will compete for your business (due to credit reform legislation, inquiries will not affect your credit rating). This compromise will allow you to build a solid credit history just in case you need a bank loan sometime down the road because you want to buy your own diner! It will also leave you with money in the bank to pay for emergencies or even allow you to support yourself should you decide to go to school full-time.

I know waiting to buy your dream truck is not what you would prefer to do, but February is a notoriously slow month for auto sales, so it is a good time to get a good price on a car or a truck, especially since manufacturers are usually offering cash back rebates to the customer and bonus money to the dealer for each sale made; the combination of these two incentives can save you a good chunk of money on a truck!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.