Thursday, June 28, 2007

Warning! Rant ahead! (parenting advice welcome)

DD has had a problem with a fellow student for a year or so. Said child has done quite a few "girl bully" type stuff to her and we have basically dropped her long ago. But DD likes to be friends with everyone. Ho hum.

DD is also very high strung and dramatic. Emotional. Me, too, so I get it. She is more easily freaked out than some, admittedly sometimes about things that are not worth it.

However, she does not lie. Never. She accidentally lied once (forgot) and still remembers to this day how big a deal it was. She does not make up stories, she does not say mean things about other kids or gossip. At all.

Other kid has: tried to convince her that she had to get her ears pierced against her will; told her she had to have a password to get on the swings on the playground or get back into the school building during recess; made her buy food for her in the cafeteria; and this week, hit her over the head with a drumstick hard enough to hurt (out of sight of parents).

Other mother, needless to say, does not believe that her daughter has done any of it. Mother lion with her cub, etc., etc. I understand her defense of the other kid. But keep in mind that up until the cafeteria incident I tried to give my daughter strategies to work with and let them figure it out on their own. And the ear piercing caused two weeks of crying every night in bed before mine owned up to her fear.

But eventually I talked to the mom about it. She didn't really believe me, but apparently went around looking for evidence, found none and decided my daughter was a pathological liar, all without ever speaking to me again about it, so I thought she got the kid to confess and dealt with it, all good.

Well, after the drumstick incident, I went up to her tonight and told her about it and said I didn't think they should sit together any more in the auditorium. She followed me into the library and let into me about how my DD is terrible for making up all these stories about hers, she doesn't want my DD associating with hers any more (no kidding!), I shouldn't be going around making baseless accusations against her daughter, and so on. The girls, thank goodness, at this point have no desire to be friends anyway. But the thing is, how do you get the bully kid to leave your kid alone? Mine will certainly not seek out interactions with her. How do we control them at school? How do we really know what's going on?

My feeling is, I could have spoken to the administration about it. I could have started a big, huge to-do, but I thought we had a good enough relationship (acquaintance) to just talk openly about it and I thought we had. But she never came back and told me that she didn't believe it or that she thought my DD was lying. She never responded at all. The only person I made any accusations to was the mother. Not the teacher, not the principal, not any other parent. But she thinks I am being an "emotional bully" because I didn't have the girls hash it out in front of us.

I told her, next time, if there is a next time, that is how I will handle it. And apologized, if you can believe it. But I am all jumpy and adrenalized from the conflict. I think I've done the right thing, but of course have a fear that she will trash talk me and my daughter to other people, which I never have done about hers, bully or no. I guess I can only show people that I am normal and hope for the best. But I'm just sick to my stomach thinking she can make things more difficult for my children at school. Or convince the teachers or principal that I'm not a good person.

I had another incident earlier this year in the kindergarten class when a mother felt that I had pushed her daughter (I put her into line). And that almost went to the principal, too. So now I feel like people are telling the school to keep an eye on me, I might not be good people, you know? Like someday they won't let me go on field trips any more...

This sucks.


Blogger Heide said...

If you have had a run in with this parent then my guess is that others have as well. You handled yourself graciously and maturely, whereas the other one... not so much. I work in a daycare center and it never ceases to amaze me how defensive guardians sometimes become when their children are caught acting out. I guess they feel it reflects directly on their parenting (or lack thereof) skills. What they don't realize is that they are harming their own children by allowing them to get away with unchecked deviant behavior. Your daughter sounds very sweet and I hope the other girl will let her be... especially following this. But you might want to let her know that both the mom and the other child might possibly keep this incident alive and circulating as long as possible. Hugs to you and best wishes.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Heide has very good advice. I"m so sorry, but this seems to be prevalent today. You took the high road and somehow, in the end, you will prevail. It's the journey that might suck. Hang in there and take care.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Carly said...

If it were me personally, and given the other parent's reaction, I would go ahead and go to the principal with a summary of what happened, what action was taken, etc. and just explain that you don't want him/her to take any action, but you just want the principal to be informed should any additional issues come up. Otherwise, this other lady could start obnoxious stories with the administration (now or when another issue comes up), making it difficult for you to be believed in the future, given that you would then be on the defensive. This might sound a little extreme, but you have to protect your children, especially from other parents in denial who may become more troublesome over time. A frustrating situation to be sure, but you handled it very well. I just think the additional stuff outlined above is necessary to protect your daughter from any future trouble. I think that providing a summary without requesting additional action should leave you free of the "troublemaker" tag. Best of luck!

8:59 AM  
Blogger sopranospinner said...

Thanks, everyone so far!

I do plan to speak to the principal before school begins to make sure they're not in the same class again and try to head this off at the pass. It's like when I spoke to the teacher about putting them in different small groups. I would like there to be a little heads up in the office. Of course, said mother says she's already spoken to the administration so who knows what the situation is now. But since they never contacted me, I assume they are okay so far. Is that a safe assumption?

9:04 AM  
Blogger AuntieAnn said...

I think that is a pretty safe assumption, but it can depend on the school -- size, how clued-in the staff is, etc. I think in general the staff knows which kids (and which parents!) are trouble, but again, this can vary. I have seen this happen before, where a relatively minor incident between kids can blow up into a huge thing with the parents (which is what I think the other mom is doing). I don't really have any advice on bullying per se, sorry, fortunately I haven't yet had to deal much with that.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Will Pillage For Yarn said...

Ick, girl trouble is NO FUN.

I would seriously try to recreate a timeline/document of the issues you've had and then if there are further issues, take the document and the new issue to the principal. Don't rage or be overly emotional, just be matter of fact, calm and businesslike. "I expect this situation to be handled. This is unacceptable." etc., and then see what happens. Don't try to deal with that parent again. She's not going to be helpful to you, that's very clear.

Hang in there mama.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Definitely going to the administration is a good idea. I believe "always cover your bases" is a good idea. We dealt with a very similar situation this year, also and have told our daughter that this person is not worth her time or effort and to drop it. We really instilled in her that she was worth more than that.

11:32 PM  
Blogger JessaLu said...

I'm so sorry you're having this trouble - I think all the advice you've gotten so far is good. I'd definitely give the Principal a heads-up.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the mother is teaching the daughter how to be a bully...

9:05 PM  
Blogger Merrie Cuylter said...

Hi! I'm one of Heide's friends and followed your link to see if I could give any helpful advise. Mostly, I think others have covered it pretty well. I would add that you should speak up--tell them your side of the story so they know that you want to be involved in the remedy for the situations (as they come up), and talk to them in person, so they can see you're a rational, educated, normal adult, not a hysterical parent with an axe to grind. Also, make sure your DD notifies a teacher when something goes amiss. I told my daughter to speak loudly to the person harassing her so that a teacher can hear, "Stop bothering me!" or "That hurt!" whatever the situation is. Then the teacher can see exactly what the problem is and that the DD has made her feelings clear. It's also empowering. Now I just have to deal with the obnoxious brats next door... Good luck!
Karen O.

11:38 PM  

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