Friday, April 2, 2010

The Diva Syndrome

One of my favorite clients, and good friend, has one of those diva daughters.
You would never pick out this family to be producers of a diva.
They claim they did not produce her. They claim she arrived in full diva demeanor.

Their diva is not at all like their other children who are smart, talented, good natured, productive, delightful human beings. Their diva is different ... she is all about being the diva. If the costs of her diva-ness impinges on other family members, this is highly irrelevant. They after all, are not the diva.

Over the years we have had numerous luncheon conversations about the diva. It is a terrible worry with underlying issues of guilt for this mother. I have very low tolerance for the diva syndrome children of this world. But I have heard and observed enough over the years to be grateful I never mothered one of these creatures. Those who are diva parents suffer. Terribly.

Of course I have asked how on Earth these delightful people got themselves in this
all other family members take a back seat to the diva lifestyle.
Parent is more than a word, it's a responsibility. The answer is these children, from day one, demand far more than normal people. They are exhausting, they are cruel in their selfishness, they will wreck a long planned family event if their appearance isn't perfect or their clothes are not new or their hair didn't co-operate with their intentions. The divas have no focus outside of self.
It is their pathology.

In this family, the diva is a 7th grader. As in she is 12 or 13 years of age. She is a "performer", participating in little theatre, childrens theatre and some school special events. She does not do any sports. Obviously one cannot be a team diva. She is obsessive about her appearance, obsessive about performances. She requires an expensive voice coach because her talent in this area is not stellar but she views this as a necessary diva skill. She is relentless in her pursuit of physical perfection. She is relentless in her pursuit of all things diva. There is no cost too high to the family at large for the diva to not have her needs met. Her family is happiest when she is away. With good reason.

Imagine my surprise when this friend called and asked me to "help" the diva with her new room.

" I love you but no", was my immediate response.

Also, I could not imagine she had run this idea past her diva. This diva, like all divas, has an exquisitely tuned self preservation mechanism. Trust me when I tell you she is aware of my diva intolerance. Back when she was 9 or 10, her mother and I had made plans to attend an art festival together. As we were leaving, the diva announced she would be joining us. About half way to the festival I was so horrified by the diva monologue and the incessant demeaning of her mother I pulled my car over and told her to get out. The diva declined. I got out and pulled her out of my car , walked down the road a span with her in tow and called her Dad to come get her now. Her mother never said a word and never got out of the car. I however spent the time waiting for her Dad explaining to Miss Diva that I, as a sane individual, indeed did have the right to divest myself of her pesky presence.

As an aside, years ago there was an equestrian diva at the center where Mermaid trained. Her parents were not at all reticent in asking others to transport, feed and house their diva to numerous training or competing events. Being a diva there were no limits on her incessant demands, her needs as well as her preferences must be met above all other criteria. I had several chats with her parents about her diva behaviors being unacceptable. They got it but like other diva parents I have known, they were unsuccessful in correcting the diva behaviors. There came a day when I drove off and left her. Calling her parents to say they would have to fetch their horror child as she was not welcome in my vehicle, nor actually, in my presence.

My friend explained they were all having a difficult time adjusting to life in chaos from the recent move. The diva had claimed the largest room and had "given" her bedroom furniture to a younger sibling so she, the diva, would be the only one to get new bedroom furniture. Now the diva was pressing her parents about pricey new furniture in black, white and mirrored surfaces. And, she had announced she wanted a "faux" painter to come in and do her room in zebra.

My friend said, " Fishy please help me. I cannot bear all this strife but,
I really don't want a zebra room in my new house".

" Take her shopping at Goodwill and buy some paint"

" Fishy!"

" Okay, take her shopping at Salvation Army and buy some paint".

" Are you going to help us Fishy?".

"I certainly am. Show her the price of the furniture she wants and tell her when she has earned the funds by doing chores she can have the furniture. Until then, give her an inflatable mattress".

" Please Fishy."

" Why on Earth did you even agree to give this child the largest bedroom and new furniture?"

" It was our best option. What do I do about the Zebra room?"

" Just say no".

" I really wish that worked for us, but you know it does not."

"Okay, get an estimate from a painter on what it costs to reverse zebra'd walls. It should be about $800. Tell Diva once you have escrowed the $800 from canceled voice coach appointments you'll talk."

" Can you come tomorrow afternoon? She will be home between 4 and 6.
After 6 she has a rehearsal."

So I stopped on my way home yesterday. Greeted my friend, motioned for her to stay put while I went upstairs to the the new diva domain. Diva was standing smack in the middle of the room projecting her most commanding demeanor. She inclined her head ever so slightly to acknowledge my presence then commenced announcing her expectations. When she finished her presentation of criteria she indicated she would receive my response.

" Sure thing diva," I said,
" Awesome idea! Nothing I would like better than to see you minimized"

" What!", she shrieked, " What does that mean".

" It means diva, that you will be so overpowered by graphic walls you simply will fade from sight."

The new diva domain is going to be a lovely shade of turquoise. There will be a tall, dramatic white headboard with black chests flanking the bed, , a mirrored dressing table , a very sculptural black chair, zebra sheets and possibly zebra edged drapes. It will be dramatic and beautiful. Very diva but without faux'd walls and without the overpriced, tacky, glitzy furniture.

Her mother is relieved.
I am sure her relief will be brief.
Whatever new grief tomorrow brings,
it won't be zebra's walls in her new house.

Peace be with you my friend.
Happy Easter.

14 comments:

K9 said...

no no no no no. i dont like divas. i hate enfant terribles too. that was cool how you got her out of the car and called the dad. and the mom? i know shes your friend, but what a worm. the rotty wrath of death would rain down on that brat if i was in charge! gah!

fishy said...

K9,
Did you ever have any divas when you were teaching? How did you deal with them? Rotty rain?

Seriously I am grateful to not be the parent of one of these born into divahood daughters.
The horror!

Funny thing, on the day I threw Miss diva out of my car, the mother did not even get out of the car to speak with her husband. When I got back in the car she was laughing and said how glad she was I took action.

This year, on Spring break from school, they forked over funds for the diva to go on a church group trip to Disney. Why? So the rest of the family could enjoy her absence.

A good dose of Rotty wrath would do this wretched kid some good.

Boxer said...

my youngest nephew (he lives in LA) is a Diva. He runs the house, the parents are almost afraid of him. Crazy. He doesn't like visiting me much because I give him the "laer beam of death" glare whenever he starts ordering breakfast in my kitchen. Last Sat. my younger brother was visiting and the Nephew (he's 9) through such a fit in public my brother said suggested they go home. The parents said "no, that will give him too much power" and then proceeded to give him power for the next hour. aghgh. It's why I rarely visit.

Do Divas have friends? Do their peers have the same issues with them?

Boxer said...

"laser beam of death"

my "s" is slow on my laptop.

TROLL Y2K said...

Feed her to the Seamstress's Daughter.

fishy said...

Boxer,
What a shame!
Your other nephews have such great times with Aunt Boxer.

These kids are tragedies and I am to the point I believe they are born this way. Some sort of hyper-activated self preservation/adoration thing. Just not normal. Very sad for these families. As you said,
" the parents are almost afraid of him".

My observation is the diva parents are emotionally bludgeoned and weary to the point they will acquiesce to almost anything to prevent more family trauma. It's a wonder these parents don't give these kids to childrens services.

But! as your laser beam of death glance has demonstrated, they also have a fine tuned survival instinct which warns them of we zero toleraance people. I'm thinking the Boxer" laser beam of death" is akin to the Rotty "wrath of death" .... no wonder you two made such fast friends!!!!!

As for diva friends, not too many. In fact I have heard over a luncheon or two of the diva not receiving invites to parties, dances, celebrations. She does have sleep overs at her house on occasion but they are never reciprocated. Once they sent her to an expensive summer camp only to be called and told to pick her up on day two.

I have actually heard my friend say, " I have to love her, no one else in our family, or in this town, does".

Troll,
I was thinking you should start a camp for the diva children. I somehow think you could effect change in a hurry. As for the seamstresses daughter, I think she has suffered enough. I have not seen or heard from her since the vegetables.

Pam said...

Oh Fishy, Fishy Fishy. I know exactly the kind of child you mean. Exactly. Mine had her moments, as most kids do, but I can certainly think of one who was an ultimate. It isn't diva, it is bullying of the highest order. And I don't know how it gets into the make-up of certain young girls to turn into diva demanding nightmares. I don't give in to them either and usually give them "the look" as well -- so that they KNOW that I KNOW that they KNOW that I know.

My mom had a glance that I called "the look that could melt stone". ANd also her earliest advice to me as a parent was "get your bluff in early". I think those parents of divas did NOT get their bluff in early.

fishy said...

Pam,
Loved your Mom's bluff advice! I've read some of your Kym's blog and received some of her advice so just cannot imagine she ever had any overtones of diva. Also, my guess is she, like us, would not be too tolerant of diva behaviors in any age group!

It is actuallly interesting to me that you, k9, Boxer and I all know "exactly" the personality type I've written of here. I have labeled my observations as the " diva syndrome" but in truth I do believe these kids have some sort of intrinsic personality disorder.

I haven't thought of this as a form of "bullying" before, just some hyper accentuated form of selfishness or narcissim. But you are absolutely on spot with your observation. These wretched divas will behave outrageously, at whatever cost to other humans, in order to have their preferences met. So yes, I guess that IS bully behavior.
The one who trained with Mermaid, was a diva AND a passive aggressive horror! So no overt bullying but plenty of behind the scenes evil was her forte.
I felt so sorry for her younger sister! It is a daily trial to be the sibling of a diva.

Like me, I am sure you are grateful for the ginormous blessing of an awesome daughter.

Buzz Kill said...

I actually have not come in close contact with this species. I've seen brats and bullies but not to this extreme. And my own (alledged) kids have their moments but not as enduring as you described.

I think it has a lot to do with today's society and the liberal media. The old adage "spare the rod and spoil the child" is really starting to manifest itself. I think parents (and I know it crosses my mind all the time) are afraid to disipline for fear of being reported as a child abuser and having your name splattered in the local paper. And I fear it's only going to get worse. That's my 2 cents.

fishy said...

Buzz,
I think some behaviors we are seeing are definitely cultural based.
In the case of the "diva syndrome" children, I think this is pathology.

If you have not had much exposure to this tragedy, you would be shocked.

Aunty Belle said...

yeah, what BuzzK said.

Howeveah, Aunty doan play Diva games wif peanut butter mouths.

Strip that kiddie terror of her clothes, her stuff, her electronics an sell it at Second Hand Rose. Tell the little twerp she will work to buy her glad rags back.

End of Divahood

fishy said...

Aunty,
I reckon I ain't a bit surprised by yer commentary. I can't even get my mind round thinking there could be a diva syndrome chile in yore clan! Ain't none in my pond neither.

You would maybe be shocked at some of my recommendations to this Mom over the years. Including to follow my example and refuse to transport her anywhere, refuse to spend money for the rude, refuse to provide any extras like diva coaches or resort trips or new furnishings . I simply do not get the idea of REWARDING bad behavior and bad choices. .... I guess that means the diva will be a politician one day.

Aunty Belle said...

Fishy, ya swam off into the Big Blue Sea? Whar's you? Come see the stuff on Porch--you'll have somethin interetin'to say I bet!

Kymical Reactions said...

If I had known she was bluffing, I may have had more diva moments than I care to admit. I don't think my moments were diva, but more of 'only child.' There is a distict difference, I think.

Now, I don't have patience for such diva children. I tend to say snide comments, and don't care. Is that diva of me?

I'd have said to that girl, "you look like you've gained some weight." or "you're almost as pretty as your sister!"

I'm tacky. I know.

can you stop over when you get a moment? I need help. thanky. xo.