Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roloff friend Jen Montzingo tackles the issue of non LPs at the LP conventions

We really should just have a permanent link to Jen Montzingo's blog. If you follow Little People, Big World (which is probably why you're reading this) I strongly recommend checking out Jen's blog (who if you didn't know, is a close friend of the Roloffs).


In Jen's latest blog, she tackles one of the trickier subjects -- the issue of how as a little person, she feels about average height siblings and their average height friends attending the dances.

First, I have to say how refreshing it is to see someone actually answer the tough questions. It's great when someone doesn't dodge the questions people are asking even if it is a touchy subject for some. What is even better is Jen's answer is insightful and honest. Isn't it nice to be able to read someones thoughts on a subject and not come away thinking to yourself "Oh they're just saying that, but they really think something else"?

For anybody not in the loop wondering who this question could be referring to (at least as far as the people asking the question, Jen's answer is about all) -- let's take the mystery out of the anonymous names - the question is likely triggered by Jeremy Roloff and his friend Jacob Mueller who have been regular staples at the LPA conferences the last couple of years and are the most well-known Average height sibling and friend who attend the LPA conventions.

To give some background on this issue and most likely why this question was posed to Jen. Going back three, almost four years ago to the 2nd or 3rd episode in the history of Little People, Big World, it centered on Matt Roloff taking Zach and Jeremy, who were 15 at the time, to a Little People of America convention. This was back when Zach was shy and lacked confidence socially. He said he appreciated Jeremy coming because as Matt called him, Jeremy was the social magnet. Matt did express a concern that because Jeremy was so out-going that he ended up being the center of attention at the Little People Conference when it was supposed to be Zach's time. To Jeremy's credit, on camera he did say he didn't want to infringe on Zach's time with his LP buddies.

However, since that time, everybody has seen Zach's confidence grow and he obviously has no problems socially at the conferences. Jeremy still attends the conference and in recent years, Jeremy has brought his friends with him. Jacob Mueller attended both the Seattle 2007 LPA conference and the 2008 LPA conference in Detroit.

Here are some visuals:

Jeremy Roloff and Jacob Mueller slow dancing with two average height girls at the Little People of America dance.





Another one of Jeremy and Mueller whooping it up on the dance floor at the LPA convention.



Some people have wondered what exactly is the protocol with average sized friends attending the Little People Conferences and even what age do the average sized siblings begin to peel back. If that thought ever crossed your mind while watching and you wondered what the little people who the conferences are actually planned for think, Jen tackles this subject with a very in-depth and insightful answer.

Jen touches on all the issues I thought might be a factor. I had never thought about the aspect of LP guys trying to impress the average height girls at the dances as an ego thing (although Jen leaves it open that it may be her personal insecurity). I would think some of the LP guys (especially ones who might be not as out-going) might feel the same way about LP girls showering a 6 foot guy with attention at their Little People dance/conference.

It was also interesting to learn that the only LP friends Jen speaks to regularly is Zach Roloff and her other LP friend who she is close to is named Josh who is gay (for those that were wondering if there are any LP who are gay).

Here's just a bit of what Jen has to say. Visit Jen's Hope Sprouts blog for the full answer

"My gut reaction is wondering why random AP friends go to LPA conferences…

*Sometimes I kind of worry about voyeurism–are they just going to point and gawk. I am being totally honest here–this is my OWN insecurity–99.9% of the AP people I’ve met at the conferences are totally not there for that and are going to try and understand what it’s like to be small.

*They kind of take over the dance floor at times. And some of the guys pay more attention to them…again, is that just my jealousy talking? Did I say that outloud? But no seriously, I think there are a handful of LP guys who make a point of trying to get with tall girls at LPA conferences–it’s kind of an ego thing? What do I know?

*Sometimes I just want it to be about the LP buds that I rarely get to see and the AP’s that go with LP friends make the group “all about them.” Sometimes.

*I get how AP siblings would invite a friend to hang out with while their LP sibling is busy being social. But I would say that most AP siblings would not need to do that because they have a huge community of other AP siblings that they have probably known their whole life–thus there being plenty of people for them to hang out with.

But! There are a lot of reasons AP’s would go to LPA conferences and I’ve even wanted to invite some AP friends myself.

*Sometimes I just want my AP friends to go with me so they can understand more what it’s like to be me and understand the dynamics of an LPA convention. I sometimes feel like I have to try so hard to fit in and make people not think I’m different that I am less vulnerable about the struggle. So considering inviting them to a conference is one way I am letting them into my world. But then I think about my reasons not to invite them and I am often torn.

*I have an average sized brother who went with our family to the conventions growing up. There are a lot of average sized siblings that go and a lot of activities for them to do together. It is like a support group for them as well. My brother was the only AP person in our family and I imagine felt like an outsider sometimes. So when he was a kid he had a lot of other AP sibling friends and they would have mixers and all sorts of fun things. Now that he is almost 19, he doesn’t really go anymore. Most of it probably has to do with the cost–why would he use his limited money for that? I guess the need for support isn’t really predominant for him anymore–when we were kids my parents paid for him to go. I think he’s kind of outgrown that now. I do know he keeps in touch with other AP siblings.


*There are always tons of AP family members and doctors that go to the conventions–so if my friends ever did go they would not feel out of place probably.


Did you know that 90% of LP’s are born to average sized parents?
I guess this issue is kind of complex and really depends on the person and their own blend of LP/AP family members.

For the most part, I think if AP friends go the main thing is to be respectful of the fact that this is the one time a lot of people who are there feel “normal”. Realizing that is really important, in my opinion. In some ways, my AP friends that I see day in and day out get me in ways my LP friends do not, who mostly only see me once a year. But my LP friends and I share a bond of really understanding what the other person is going through that even my best AP friends have no idea about. I only have a couple of best LP friends that I really know well and talk to on an almost daily basis–Zach and on a monthly basis–Josh (and his AP boyfriend David) :). My other LP friend that I’ve gone shopping with a few times is Margaret who lives in my region so I get to see her 2-3 times a year. But I have a lot of friends that I hang out with at the conventions and we pick up right where we left off at the convention before. "

In case you didn't know, Jen is open to questions, if you've ever had a question, Jen would be a great person to ask. On various other sites, I've seen people ask the Roloffs questions that are more LP oriented than specifically for the Roloffs, most of those questions go unanswered by the Roloffs (like all questions to for the Roloffs :). If you've ever had a question such as that Jen would be an ideal person to ask, she's accessible, honest and insightful. You can either leave her a comment or question on her blog or email her at jen@jenmontzingo.com

So check out her blog and get to know Jen better (and also read to get the full answer about average sized people attending the LPA conferences).

39 comments:

Timothy said...

I think that's a very reasonable and sensible approach to the subject. If I were a Little Person, I would feel the same way.

It's a fine line between offering support and over-stepping into someone else's territory.

Jason said...

Jen is nicer than I am :)

I think it's ridiculous. When a minority group holds a gathering once a year it is for the members of that minority. It's supposed to be understood that if you're aren't part of that group, stay out of it.

Think of any group that would ever have reason to meet. You don't want friends who aren't part of that group getting in on the action for those few days.

Unfortunately some people aren't thoughtful enough to realize that they should stay away.

Jen said there are activities for "average" siblings. That's smart. Give them something to do together. Don't let them interfere with the whole point of the conference. Friends should not go. The LP they know are probably too polite to tell them no. They're supposed to just know.

Dana said...

Wow Jason, I totally disagree. Jen might not have meant it, but I think she's being harsh.

Jeremy IS a part of that group because he has LP family members. He is bound to that group. Jeremy has a right to have a great time. If he likes that dances, he should dance. It doesn't stop little people from dancing.

Somebody like Jeremy has made friends with lots of LP. I'm sure there are LP that are happy to see their AP friends. Friendships are friendships. It doesn't matter if you're average sized or a little person.

Jeremy shouldn't be made to feel guilty for going and offering his support and seeing his friends.

There is nothing wrong with Mueller coming with Jeremy and Zach. He knows some LP. He's good to LP or he wouldn't be friends with the Roloffs.

Why should Jeremy be forced to be bored when Zach is playing sports? There is nothing wrong with Mueller coming along to keep Jeremy company.

I think it's terrible that Jeremy and Mueller (or people like them) being friendly is turned into them being selfish. They deserve more respect than that.

Rap541 said...

I'm of two minds on this.

Maybe three :)

I think obviously, AP (as we're calling them) siblings are going to happen in LP families and its silly, ridiculous and unkind to say "your AP brother or sister can not attend this event".
(although I suspect this is exactly how the DAAA games do it)

But when the situation turns competative, I can understand the annoyance. After all, the point is for the LPs to meet and greet - hard to do that when there's a pretty AP dancing with all of the eligable men. While I don't attend LP cons, I do attend cons, and there's a financial committment to attending and if you're attending it for the purpose of say, meeting a man, I think it's reasonable to expect the AP sibling to take a step back if they are only on the dance floor to have a good time and then go home to their AP pals. I can understand why, for example, LP men attending the dance might be frustrated to see two AP young men snatching up all the ladies when they have no intention of really meeting them.

Personally I think the problem here is that its really a judgement call Matt and Amy should be making and aren't. If, as many many fans claim, Mueller is brought to the LP cons expressly to keep Jeremy entertained, then the two of them should have no problem entertaining themselves.

"Why should Jeremy be forced to be bored when Zach is playing sports?"

Because life isn't about recieving constant entertainment and Jeremy should be old enough to understand the harsh reality for Zach. If he's too immature to see his brother going to the DAAA games once a year as something other than an opportunity to be needy - "I'LL BE BORED SOMEONE DO SOMETHING SO I AM NOT BORED WHILE ZACH GETS TO HAVE FUN BECAUSE I CANT BE BORED EVER!" then he's really not a mature young man. My goodness, it's a little sad how Jeremy simply can't amuse himself for longer than a minute without help. People make it sound like he'll have a little meltdown of tears if he's not constantly got something shiny dangling in front of his face.

Yes, in case anyone asks - I do think a 17 year old should be able to suck it up for three days without a friend. I mean really, the *horror* of going somewhere without one's favorite playmate.

Jason said...

"I do think a 17 year old should be able to suck it up for three days without a friend."

Jeremy is 18 and still attending with his favorite friend.

I put more of the blame on Jeremy (to be specific, to be general, the AP sibling) than I do on Matt and Amy. A kid 15, 16, 17 and 18 should be old enough, mature enough and thoughtful enough to realize that this is the one time for his LP sibling to have fun with people just like him. They should know on their own that it's not about them. The parents really shouldn't need to tell them no. It reflects on the character of the person.

Parents would probably only step in if the LP told them they didn't want the AP sibling going to the dances, etc. and probably not many would actually say that because it sounds rude.

Kind of like how when Zach had the paintball war with his LP friends, he didn't just tell his AP friends that he didn't want them around even though that's what he wanted or didn't want.

The more you pay attention, the more it's obvious why Zach doesn't seem to fit in with Jeremy and the gang.

Rap541 said...

I know he's still attending but I'm trying to not turn the discussion into a hostile thing about Jeremy - in the sense that I am absolutely certain Jen isn't refering to *just Jeremy* in her comments but to AP siblings in general.

Yes, I think the average 16-19 year old should have enough empathy and wit to understand that not every event should be about him but if it's Jeremy we're talking about - then I doubt he would figure it out without large cue cards, a sit down with mom and dad, and possibly a training walk thru. So I do put some responsibility on Matt and Amy. I can remember getting this sort of talk from my parents - and frankly its not a bad thing. A parent's role is to set boundaries - something I see Matt and Amy very reticent to do.

I actually thought that scene with the paintball was very telling because yes, Zach should speak up for himself more, but it was very very obvious that he was worried that his lp friends were going to get shoved aside while the AP kids had fun. I was honestly shocked that Matt needed to be told that.

Brokenwing said...

Dana, I agree with you. If no one is being hurt or deprived, there shouldn't be anything controversial about people having a good time at an event that is supposed to be fun.

However, for the first time, I agree with Rap541. I don't think Jen is talking about Jeremy. She talked about tall girls at the dances getting the attention of the LP guys, so she's not talking just about Jeremy. He can't be the only one to ever bring a friend. Jeremy and Mueller are just the high profile examples.

I didn't interpret Jen's blog as criticism of Jeremy. She said the most important thing to her is that the AP are respectful of the fact that this is the one time of year where people there can feel "normal". Jeremy and Mueller are respectful of that. As SW wrote in the blog, Jeremy even said that on the show.

I don't think any concerns Jen might have about this are directed at Jeremy or Mueller.

Brokenwing said...

*Yes, I think the average 16-19 year old should have enough empathy and wit to understand that not every event should be about him but if it's Jeremy we're talking about - then I doubt he would figure it out without large cue cards, a sit down with mom and dad, and possibly a training walk thru.That's not fair or an accurate statement. Jeremy does understand that. He even said so.

Rap541 said...

And yet he's still out on the dance floor diverting attention to himself?

I get that he's a very very immature 18 year old(gosh almost nineteen year old) but but really, is he so starved for female attention that he needs to steal his brother's?

Yes yes, I am no prude, if Jeremy wants to seriously date a woman who is a dwarf that is fine, but considering that we know he isn't,...isn't this just Jeremy making himself the center of attention? And Mueller? Is he into dwarf girls? Or does he just like the attention adn wouldn't even look at a dwarf woman "in real life"?

Again, I blame his parents for not checking this behavior early. If he's just playing and if his boyfriend is just playing - they are old enough to go play in the AP pond. Especially if they have no real intention of dating LP women and they are BOTH old enough to have made that desire known.

Brokenwing said...

I think you're taking the dances too seriously. Getting on the dance floor doesn't mean that you're declaring your intention to marry the person you're dancing with, it doesn't mean you're going to date them or anything that serious. It's a dance!

Jeremy is at the dance doing what people are supposed to do - dance.

Did you look at the pictures? Jeremy and Mueller are very respectively dancing with AP girls. Jeremy has danced with LP girls before, even getting on his knees to dance. I thought that was a nice show of respect.

He's not looking for attention or stealing anybody's thunder. Zach has said he doesn't even like the dances. Jeremy being on the dance floor doesn't prevent Zach from having a good time.

Rap541 said...

why should he *like* the dances when it's clear his brother gets more attention?

Are Jeremy and Mueller interested in dwarf ladies? Or is it just nice to have the women pay attention even though they aren't interested?

If Jeremy and Mueller are willing to state that they are looking for dwarf women, I have no issue with them out on the dance floor shaking what they got. But if it's just two AP boys feeling like studs who have no intention of going further... no offense Brokenwing, but both are good looking enough to figure out how to pick up ladies without playing the LP card. Since neither appears interested in LP women (ie they certainly won't be seen on camera dating LP women)then perhaps they should bow out of the competition.

Or are you suggesting Jeremy and Mueller are seriously interested in LP women? Because that I could respect. Do you think that? That Jeremy and Mueller want LP women as their life partners?

Erica said...

I'm surprised. I think either Jen is NOT talking about Jeremy and people just think she is because that's who people know.

A girl is a girl. It doesn't matter if you're normal height or short. A good looking guy is a good looking guy and speaking as a girl, you want as many of those as possible at a dance!

I think if you were to poll the LP ladies at the dance they would vote in favor of a guy like Jeremy taking part.

Jeremy is perceptive enough that if he didn't feel welcome, he would get that message loud and clear. He has fun. People he's with has fun. What's the problem?

If Jen's answer is leaning one way, I think it's because she thinks of Jeremy as more of a brother than as a good looking guy.

Brokenwing said...

Rap, don't be so obtuse.

No, I don't think Jeremy or Mueller are looking to marry LP girls. That doesn't even belong in this discussion.

It's a dance. People dance to have fun and have a good time. I'm shocked that you think the only reason people dance is to look for life partners. Jeremy and Mueller are dancing to have a good time with their friends.

Zach has never given any reason for anyone to believe the reason he doesn't like dancing is because of Jeremy. Some people just don't like dancing. Zach is one of them.

Rap541 said...

I'm shocked that you think an activity that Matt Roloff states is one where LP men and women make lifelong committments is just a dance

But you do love Jeremy, don't you? So if Jeremy wants to lead on LP women who he has no intention of seriously dating... well he's what? Blessing them? With his pretended attention?

If he's not interested, then why is there? Oh right - to feel popular.

Funny how he can't be expected to bow out even on a weekend trip with women he has NO INTENTION of making a commitment to. Bless Jeremy for paying attention to the handicapped women who can never get a real man like him, huh, brokenwing? They should pray to god to bless them for the miracle of an AP as SPECIAL as Jeremy to show them attention and throw them away after a night?

Sorry, but if he's there to be studly and walk away, how is he not behaving badly?

Brokenwing said...

This is getting nowhere with you so I'm ending this for my part anyway.

It is a dance. People have fun with their friends by dancing. Jeremy dancing is not leading LP girls on. It's having fun with friends.

Once again, you must not be looking at the pictures, because Jeremy is dancing with an AP girl and so is Mueller.

You're the type of person who would criticize Jeremy no matter what. If he didn't go to the dances or the conventions, you would probably criticize him for not supporting Zach and accuse him of thinking he is better than LP.

Rap541 said...

I mean this seriously, considering your earlier point:

"Jeremy has danced with LP girls before, even getting on his knees to dance."

Why now are you suggesting that Jeremy only dances with AP girls?

Personally I think the bigger issue is Mueller (no LP family at all) attending LP cons.

Are you suggesting that Matt - and many other LPs - are wrong in stating that the LP cons are a big "find someone" place? Because all the LP people I know say ot is... so If Jeremy isn't interesed, per *you* - why is he there taking attention when he doesn't want an LP woman in the slightest? Why is Mueller there?

Jordan said...

In my opinion, AP siblings like Jeremy have as much right to enjoy the activities as their LP brother or sibling. That includes inviting a friend. The LP has that option. The AP kid should too.

As someone said, a kid like Jeremy is born into a family of LP. They have a stake to the LP community. They've been dragged to LP events their whole lives and if they're personable people, they've made friends within the LP community. They are entitled to enjoy the week and the dance as much as their LP sibling. One does not exclude the other.

I think many of you are ignoring the cost. Jen said that was the reason why her AP brother doesn't go. Cost is not a concern for the Roloffs. TLC covers all the conferences.

Rap541 said...

Wait- so *Mueller*, an AP with NO LP family at all attends for FREE ON TLC'S DIME????

While Jen's brother can't go because of cost?

And this is JUST FINE?

So when Mueller goes to the Virgin Islands, its ON TLC?

But the members of the dwarf soccer team are BEGGING FOR SPONSORS?

TLC IS SENDING AN AVERAGE HEIGHT KID WHO IS NOT RELATED TO THE FAMILY IN QUESTION BUT MAKING LP ATHLETES BEG FOR MONEY?

Quickly, someone explain to me why Mueller is getting a free vacation on TLC's dime for LP awareness while ACTUAL LITTLE PEOPLE ARE NOT?

Kylee Katler said...

That's actually Jen with the yellow belt in the picture next to the girl with the pink dress. And here is a picture of Jen and Zach dancing.

http://img218.imageshack.us/my.php?image=46922221.png

David said...

Jen gave the best answer I could imagine. She covered all of the sensitive issues without criticizing.

Personally, Mueller attending more than once would get the raised eyebrow look from me. Perhaps the reason he attended in Detroit was because he was along for most of their vacation and not specifically the LPA. I can give Mueller a pass once if he has Zach's blessing to see what it's like, but to make it a yearly event with Jeremy and his pals from home is too much.

Kylee, were you at the dance when that picture was taken? Zach actually looks like he's enjoying himself!

Christina said...

I wonder how someone like Jen's brother felt about Jeremy bringing friends? If he stopped going as he got older, perhaps he wasn't there when Jeremy started bringing friends, but still I wonder how he felt about it?

I think it's kind of disrespectful to the other AP siblings. Why couldn't Jeremy hang out with Jen's brother?

David Katz said...

I'm sorry but I totally think (not just based on that pic) that Zach is into her. Look at that smile!

Ashley said...

David Katz, I've thought the same thing! :)

Even back when Zach was supposedly shy with girls (remember how he said he couldn't talk on the phone with Casey because he didn't know what to say) he still managed to run up a huge phone bill with Jen. Matt teased him that he had a mystery girlfriend. 3 years later and they still talk almost everyday?

That is the first picture of Zach with a girl where he looks REALLY happy!

They know each other well. They're obviously comfortable with each other and get along great. As long as the "spark" is there I think they should go for it! That's what strong marriages are made of.

Kylee, thanks for sharing the picture. Do you have anymore?

Anonymous said...

Zach and Jen do look like a happy couple in that picture...

Jocelynn said...

I think they're just friends. If they were more, I think they would have said something on the show. Matt and Amy were getting quite bad into pressuring Zach with girls until Dani. If Jen and Zach were an "item", I think Matt would have been boasting about it.

Jocelynn said...

But it is a great picture of them both!

Alice said...

Why don't pursue this on the show? It would be more interesting than another one of Matt's crazy ideas where we watch a crew of contruction workers for 20 minutes.

David Katz said...

I'm pretty sure the Dani thing was just more of a Matt/tv thing. Maybe Jen and Zach just don't want anything public or maybe they aren't actually together but I definitely think something's brewing under the surface...maybe they just have a super solid friendship but the look on his face says smitten and maybe something will blossom in years to come.

Kylee Katler said...

Um I don't personally have other pics of them but I know there's like a bunch on her myspace from over the years and he came as a date to her dad's wedding or something like that. They were pretty much inseparable at the last 2-3 conventions (my cousin is a litle person) and of course everyone notices the Roloffs so that's how I know--he's a pretty public person there. People were like saying they seem like they're together but she's private or something and not sure. I don't really know. -kylee

Vicky said...

Isn't Jen quite a bit older than Zach?

I really like Jen, though. I think she answered the question perfectly.

Anonymous said...

Vicky, Jen is 25. Zach is 19 (almost). That's not a huge gap.

Jocelynn, don't believe anything about their personal lives on the show. Matt let it slip that they wanted to keep doing the show, but keep their personal lives private.

That's why Kirsten was seen on the show for 2 years and suddenly she's gone and all they gave was a 5 second explanation. They're trying to con their way through a reality show without being open about their personal lives. You won't hear the truth about who they're dating or not dating.

Vicky said...

David Katz, you're right about Zach and Dani. Zach has even admitted they were never dating or anything more than friends from school. The show and Matt made that into something it wasn't. The show even refered to Dani in previews as "Zach's girlfriend" ("Zach writes a play for history but forgets to write a part for his girlfriend").

I think everybody figured out that was a ploy by Matt and the show to get people to stop asking when Zach was going to date. It worked, because people stopped.

You're right, maybe in a couple of more years. Sometimes friendships turn into more.

I say book the chapel! Jeremy could probably even dance at their wedding ;-)

Rachel said...

Hey, I think Zach and Jen make a cute couple :) They should use that as their pic on the wedding invitations one day :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah but maturity wise isnt there hecka difference between those 2

Rachel said...

You've never really seen Zach and Jen together. Zach was much more mature when he was shown at the latest LPA dance. Zach like Jeremy, is much better away from the DBU.

Jen and Zach talk everyday. You don't talk talk to somebody everyday unless you really like them.

Claire said...

Didn't somebody say they saw Zach on the campus of a Seattle college? I forget the name of it, it was a Christian college.

Jen still lives in Seattle? Hey hey hey.

Greg said...

A couple of points:

I think Jen answered the question as well as any reasonable, honest, decent person could. She made her points well, but did it with class.

I hope the AP siblings and friends give it the same type of thought. Unfortunately I think that's unlikely.

The only other point that Jen didn't mention that I would be concerned about is the shy LP kids who might be intimidated by all these average size kids. That's what they're escaping by attending the LPA conventions.

On Jen and Zach, I'm going with just friends. I agree with Anon at 11:42 about the difference in maturity. Zach might be more mature than Jeremy, but that's not saying a whole lot.

I'm surprised Jen is such good friends with the Roloffs. She seems to have more life experiences and be overall, more worldly. The Roloffs are very sheltered.

I can tell by the way Jen carries herself (could you honestly imagine Jen telling someone to F off for asking a question?) and the way, she writes and what she writes about that she is in another league than the Roloffs. Perhaps one day Zach will mature, but not now.

Jan said...

Interesting subject. I share Jen's feelings. I'm glad she didn't give a standard "safe" answer.

I don't think Jeremy or Mueller spend a lot of time (or any time) thinking about if it's really the right thing for them to do. It's like your friend that you love, but they invite themselves everywhere you go and don't realize that sometimes that isn't the thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the LP community considered Jeremy part of the LP family, but obviously they do not.

Jen makes a convincing case that should be respected.

It will be interesting to see if Jeremy attends LPA 2009 in New York. Will Jeremy bow out of a trip to NY?