Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

Beloved is in graduate school.  He attends a pretty cool low-residency program in Vermont specializing in children’s literature.  He’s doing really well, and is accomplishing VERY long-standing goals.  However, we (you may have noticed) do not live in Vermont.

Because it is low-residency, he only has to attend school twice a year, for 10 days.  January and July.

Last January, I was such a baby-lawyer, I could barely open my eyes.  I was a little busy, and it made me nervous when he was gone.  What if something comes up?  What if I get a new assignment?  But it was fine, and I think I left at 4:30 every day.

Last July – the girls were in the Middle of the Country with the Ex, and Beloved and I had already started our moving process.  There were no difficulties.

This January – total different picture.

I’m fully engaged in a case that is culminating this month in every way.  Discovery is closing, summary judgment is being filed, experts are being hired, court hearings are happening.  It’s insane.  INSANE.  And I’m heavily involved in every aspect of it.

I was already nervous – that getting out of work at a reasonable hour was going to be difficult.  Of all months, this is the one where deadlines happen.  I was nervous.

Then, ha ha!  What made me think I knew what nervous was?

It looks like I have the great honor of traveling to a very different part of the country to tend to one of the many aspects of the case that is my Life, even though it’s a bit beyond my seniority level.  It just so happens to be during Beloved’s absence (and over days that are (a) a national holiday, and (b) inauguration day.  Feh.)

At first, it looked like it was just one day, and it was a day that was a school holiday, so I knew that the kids would be fine with friends.  Then it ended up two days, and two long days – long enough that once you add in travel, it may affect 4 days.  Yikes.  Beloved’s only gone for 10 days — I’m having issues for HALF of them?  Unbelievable.

I was going to post about how my decision to make my community one of my many priorities with my time becomes oh-so-valuable in times of need.  I have friends that I can ask for a hand – friends who I’ve given a hand to in the past, and who know that I’m an active and engaged member of our community.

But now, it seems like my needs are too big, and instead, I’m turning to family.  I’ve begged my mother to (re)arrange her work schedule so she can come while I’m gone.

E is mad at me – she overheard me talking to a friend who is my back-up plan, and insists that I hadn’t told her the whole story about next week before telling the friend.  She is mad about the options I have considered for her while I’m gone.  Some friends are out of favor, and others are just plain old “annoying.”  Humorously, she thinks she should be left home alone.

It was hard not to laugh at that one.

All in all, the stress levels are high.  I keep thinking about how, in the past, I’ve looked forward to certain things – or dreaded them – and then they happen.  And before I know it, it’s behind me.

I keep telling myself … it will be January 22nd before I know it.  Beloved will be home, and this difficult time will have passed.  i have a lot of friends.  I am very lucky.  The girls are well-loved, and people are happy to be supportive.  We live in an awesome community, where people are nearby and hyper-willing.

It will be okay.

And I will miss my Beloved.

And I am sad that I should be more supportive, and excited with him about his exciting time, and instead, I’m kinda on the verge of tears over my own stress and fears.  He gives so much, and deserves better.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

Read Full Post »

My update post, and, hopefully, my last.  Our goal in this family is to stop focusing, to stop complaining, and to stop allowing this other family so much power in our own. 

We had the meeting with the principal, and Beloved and I were as satisfied as we could have been.  The guidance department is available for J when and if needed.  I was relatively pleased with the initial assumptions that J was telling the truth, and that Ex-BFF (and unfortunately, her mother at this point) were seen by more than just us as “bullies.”  

We flagged the issue, we ensured that J would be in a separate classroom next year. 

It may have helped that in the prior week, I was in 2 meetings with the principal on various administrative and volunteer matters … but it may not have, since Ex-BFF’s moms (aka – as of 6 months ago – my “friend”) has been in the same position for longer in this town, since we moved here at least 7 years after she did. 

There seemed to be a bit of peace settling over the situation.  

J had her bday outing – which was slightly bittersweet for me, since her bday last year was a joint party with the ex-BFF, with 20 something kids and Beloved running the tye-die t-shirt station.  True that both birthday girls ended the day exhausted and making plans for something smaller and more contained for their 10th bdays – but it was still fun, and joint, and generally okay.  

This year, J invited 5 girls, very carefully chosen based upon allegiances and odd loyalties, and we took them out to lunch, to the Clay Room (where we painted cups, figurines, coasters and dishes) and then out for ice cream.  J loved her day.  Her friends loved being with her.  It was a good day.

To me, it felt a little empty, a little sneaky, a little furtive.  

The day before, at soccer, ex-BFF approached  and threw an envelope at her.  It was a bday party invite.  I know her mom made her invite J, and I felt a little trapped.  

First of all, the Mom knew that we were having a small outing – we’d discussed it in a moment of cooperation and openness.  

Second of all, the girls can’t stand each other right now.  

Third of all, I know that The Mom makes Ex-BFF invite certain kids every year, based on The Mom’s ideas of tit for tat and such.

I felt that by inviting J, probably while knowing that J did not invite Ex-BFF to her own small outing, we were set up.  Perhaps I’m putting more Machiavellian motives onto The Mom than exist in reality … but I don’t think so.  

If I say no, then I’m a hater and a mean grinch-like being who refuses to allow our kids to be friends.

If I say yes, then I’m a User, who is willing to blow them off until the prospect of a fun party is dangled in front of me and my child. 

(spoiler alert:  we said no.)

In the meantime, between the girls, things were definitely calming down.  They were even able to sit at the same lunch table on one or two occasions, without sending hair and teeth flying.  I had started to suspect that J was developing an ultra-sensitivity that made me worry for her – made me fear that she was changing, as a person, and while 1/2 of me was thinking of allowing her the indulgence of her sister’s privileges, the other 1/2 was thinking “enough is enough, we’ve indulged this long enough, she needs to shake it off!”  

And that’s where I was – it is time to be done.  We can’t spend/waste anymore time with this nonsense.  They have as much power as we give them, and they deserve none, so we shall give them none.

And then, after I’d brought all of J’s friends home on the day of her bday extravaganza, my phone rang. 

I knew it was coming – a bit of a decompression, a checking-in.  The Call From The Mom.  

It was all brought back to the surface, as we talked it out.  I shared more stories – I expressed my disgust at the blame being placed at my feet – MY feet – an adult who has done nothing but welcome her child into my home, who has loved her through sideways glances at my amusement in her devilish glint.  Who has hosted the girls time and time again b/c of J’s tears at the idea of having to spend time at their house, where arguments often resulted in the girls finding solace in the Ex BFF’s tiny bedroom …. 

And then The Mom brought my stories to her child, who called both J and I liars and nasty folk who were out to do nothing but ruin her life.  The Mom rained upon me excuse after excuse (i.e., not all denials) for her shitty behavior.  She then asked me to help her find peace between the girls.  To sit down with them, and make nice.  Because after all, if we didn’t intercede soon, “they’ll never be friends again.”

Ah hah!  The goal!!

My response was written and re-written a thousand times.  It was laced with and then stripped of paragraph after paragraph of defensiveness and explanation.  

My end result:  No.  We’re done.  

We can’t do it anymore.  Of course, we could sit down, each with our kids, and we could watch J look bewildered, and Ex_BFF wrinkle her nose and glare at me through her eyebrows.  But as I said to The Mom, neither of them are going to say “Mom, I’m sorry, I lied before ….” just b/c we’re all together.  Whoever was being untruthful would dig in their heels and swear up and down that the other is from Hell.  What purpose is served? 

None.  

I thought of offering up the school’s guidance department, or an outside counselor – and if J had the goal of renewing and repairing a friendship, that’s likely what I would have done.  But since J wants space and distance – on account of the bruising that has happened throughout this long ordeal – that sentence was also deleted. 

A week after the final e-mail exchange, wherein I refused attempts at reconciliation for the girls (but re-extended my personal hand in friendship to The Mom), we were due to be at the same soccer game.  

I was a wee shakey in the guts.  But certainly went, proud of my past behavior and of my attitude (and first and foremost – proud of my daughter).  

We avoided each other a little (I was afraid of her spitting on me, since she didn’t respond to my measured but civil e-mail).  But by the end of the game, we were in a group of several parents, conversing as if there was nothing negative between us, laughing over shared knowledge of each other’s quirks and personalities.

This has been one of the hardest ordeals I’ve dealt with.  It’s been prolonged, and has tapped into my maternal instincts in a way that no other conflict has ever done before.  But at the same time, it’s become an end to a “friendship” in a way that is distasteful.  I am well-aware of the fact that over the years I’ve had 1,000 reasons to end that particular friendship.  Whether it be judgment she’s sent my way because of my divorce, or my lack of jewish-ness, my choices in raising the girls (i.e., they have too much clothes, and should not have iPods), my decision to work (even though she now does the same), my decision to hire babysitters, or my choice to ride a bike rather than drive a car (i.e., I should get out up onto the sidewalk when she’s driving her SUV, b/c by riding a bike, I’ve earned the privilege of her HITTING ME WITH HER CAR), or whether it be because of odd manipulations and prejudices that she’s given me in light of our friendship.*  I still wish that our friendship could have peacefully faded – that we could have been busy in other directions, or with other friends, or whatever.

I don’t like the conflict.  

I want everyone to love me.  (Deeeeeep Thoughts, By Zuska the Honest).

That’s what it comes down to.

But not more than I want J to be okay, and for her to be supported and advocated for.  So the bad taste in my mouth is more than acceptable.  I wish I could make this painless for J, but I can’t (and I haven’t), but I hope that at least she can learn that she is never stuck.  It’s true that there may be some discomfort required to get rid of misery, but that she has the inner strength to scrabble through the thorns to get to the other side.  

And this, I hope, concludes the final chapter of this particular theme.

 

 

 

 

*And my petty grievance:  The day that I gave 100% of my weekend, blowing off my birthday, Beloved’s birthday, a play the girls wanted to see, and not in a small part – sleep – for the sake of helping her out with her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  I was there from 7 a.m. until midnight on a Saturday, and helped with running errands on Friday.  I blew up balloons, became familiar with a Temple that I’d never entered before, (tolerated religion), negotiated with maintenance people, set up centerpieces, greeted guests, took care of aunts and uncles, and generally did all I was asked to do – just to be offended (perhaps selfishly and unnecessarily so) by the fact that when both Mother and Father of the Girl of Honor stood up during the party to thank all of those who helped with the set up and the details, I was totally overlooked.  The Mom was thanked, Her Twin was thanked, all of the other “helpers” (hired and friend-based) were thanked (there were, literally, 4 of us, sister and The Mom included …) . And when The Dad turned to his wife and said “who else?” … she shrugged, and they moved on.  Everyone at our table was shocked, knowing that I had been The Right Hand Woman for the day, and were offended on my behalf.  I blew it off at the time, but the moment has been revisited in my head on several occasions, and I suppose that I was quite hurt.

Read Full Post »

I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way home tonight.  I needed laundry quarters (even though I didn’t do the laundry after all), and so I picked up a bottle of Rose, and I was enjoying a slow walk home on a pretty spring evening. When all of a sudden my vision focused on a scene a block and a half in front of me.

And my stomach fell to the sidewalk.  I so didn’t want to see that person right now.  The person who is throwing so many nasty punches into my family’s well-being; causing so much stress – so many changes.  Such sadness and despondence in the life of one of my favorite people.

She was glaring at me.  Face all squinched up, disgust in her shoulders.

It was her.

The ExBFF.

I could not believe the reaction that I had to a 10 year old (well, 9 for another 3 weeks – she was born on J’s due date in 1998) child.

But she is the source of such anguish.  Such misery.

Another attempt at going to her mom last weekend.  Result was interesting.

I was told that the entire situation is MY fault.

In some ways, I was very relieved by this response.  I live in constant awareness of the fact that as much as J comes home with stories of Ex-BFF’s eviltude, BFF is likely going home with similar stories.

Turns out, not so much. Her mom was clueless.  She thought “everything was normal.”  But when she approached her child with my concerns, she was met with the allegation that I – Zuska – have sabotaged their friendship.  That I have “pulled them apart” and that if it weren’t for me, they could have worked everything out on their own.

i.e., J would have accepted the fact that she would be treated like shit forever – given “tests” wherein she is expected to be forever conscious of Ex-BFF’s moods and quirks and whims so that she can be sure to behave correctly and stave off her Wrath.

It was horrible of me to talk to my daughter about her self worth.  To teach her that friendship is not a pure sacrifice of self, and that self-respect is just as important as respect for others.

it IS all my fault.

“please be sure to tell J that this is not what I want, and this is not what [my daughter] wants, but rather what YOU want.”

Yah.  Okay.

_____________________

For the past 2.5 weeks, for the first time in my life, I’m dealing with consistent pain in my neck, back and shoulders.  Today it’s also in my right arm.  The pain is on the verge of debilitating.  People ask me what I did.  What I lifted.  Nothing.  Nothing.  Perhaps it was because I slept on my stomach?  And whipped my head up? (Similar actions hurt now)  Others say it’s where people hold stress.  Am I stressed?  No!  I said!  Work has been mellow.  My husband and I haven’t fought in ages (well, we sort of fought last night – he’s mad at me for increasing my responsibilities in the girls’ drama program at school –  but the question came before last night), my kids are doing well …. except that J is always sad.  And she’s waking in the night.  And her confidence is shattered.  And when I see Ex-BFF’s mom in public, I spend most of my energy swallowing my vomit.

I’m just so sick of it.

We have a meeting with the principal and guidance counselor next week.  I want to talk about the impact of this situation on the other girls in the class – about the way they all feel torn.  I would speak directly with the other parents if it wouldn’t make me seem like I was trying to collect allies in a fucking war.  I am not willing to take on that appearance.  To make the Ex-BFF’s mom find fault with me when I’ve tried so-so hard for both J and I and to take the high road – to not sink into the games.  But the other girls are also struggling.  They don’t know what to do.  They’re scared of being put in J’s position by Ex-BFF if they speak to J – they’re scared of J not wanting to be their friend because they’re siding with Ex-BFF out of fear.  They’re unhappy.

Everybody is unhappy.

I want this crap to go away.

I want to stop hating this child.

I want her to go away.  I want them to move.  Far, far away.

On Thursday – J and Ex-BFF had soccer practice together.  I was there.  Ex-BFF managed to pull every.single.girl. into her orbit with casual and carefree “come over heres!”  J was beaten down, wary, tired.  She ended up alone.  Two of the girls came to me to ask if J was okay – not to J.  They were scared.  Intimidated.  J was alone for the entire hour.  Her coach was perplexed.  The girls were skittish.  J. was lonely and sad.  She cried the whole way home.

Then Ex-BFF went away for the weekend.

Our phone rang off the hook.

The soccer game was lovely.

The girl scout meeting was fun and social and happy – J at the center; kids happy and good natured.

J had a sleepover with a friend on Sat. eve; she went to another friend’s house on Sunday afternoon; had another with her at E’s play on Sunday night.

Everyone felt safe for the weekend.

Read Full Post »

E was in a play this weekend.  She was Mushu the Dragon – sidekick to Mulan.

Listen – E was one of the lead roles in her school play in April, and I was happy for her, and I was proud, but I wasn’t all over her, and I wasn’t on and on about how great my kid is, and what a great actress she is.  She struggled in some ways … she had a lot of pressure on her.  She was at the top of the heap after climbing the ranks in the proper manner during her young years.  6th graders have the major roles – no big deal.

BUT — As the dragon?

My kid rocked.  She was stellar.  She was funny, she was confident, she was GLOWING.  Just glowing.  Man.

But the best part:

After the show, the kids go back stage and change out of their costumes, and then surge out to the applause of friends & family.  Of course, being kids – they more want their friends – not their family.  So I didn’t rush over to her, and took my time getting across the room.  When I finally found her, she was talking with friends and her friends’ parents, and she looked up and saw me and ….

Smiles!  Beaming!

“HI!!!!!” she said!! Leaning in for a hug.  She accepted my compliments and showed her excitement.

It was just a fun, loving moment.

It’s a funny time – this adolescence.  There are windows and there are waves.  She’s sick of me 30% of the time, but is warm and sweet and cuddly 70%.  I find myself so appreciative of that 70% of the time.  I used to have 100%.  I know it used to be frustrating.  I didn’t want to be cuddled constantly.  Sometimes, I wanted to just be me.  No appendages.

Now that E is shrugging me off part of the time – I’m savoring the rest.  Savoring.  Every smile – every time she doesn’t shake my hand off when I grab it to cross the street.  Every “I love you” before we hang up the phone – is precious.

Read Full Post »

I had previously mentioned that J was having some trouble with her “BFF.”  Things have continued to be a roller coaster ride.  We have done the following since my last post:

  • discussed the issue with BFF’s mom (who I have been quite friendly with for the past 3+ years)  It was 1000% fruitless.
  • discussed the issue with J and BFF’s teacher
  • spoken with J at length
  • Read books (Beloved finished “Odd Girl Out,” I am in the process right now)
  • Listened to J as she cried that she “broke up with” BFF, because she was so sick of it all.
  • Listened to J as she complained that BFF — now only “F” (for friend) hasn’t stopped the games
  • Listened to J as she explained fight after fight
  • Spoken (coincidentally) with other parents who had the same problems with BFF, only in 2nd grade
  • Took J, BFF, and 2 other friends to the pool to prove to the girls that they could still be friends, and be friends with other girls, and all will be well.
  • Watched as BFF pulled out all the stops to manipulate the other girls at the pool, also scaring me, because when she was hiding behind the stairwell to see how long it would take the other girls to go looking for her, I was scared to death that I lost someone’s kid.
  • And, finally, just this evening, wrote to J’s teacher and the principal of the school to insist that J’s desk be moved.
  • Also this evening:  counseled J to speak with the 3 other girls caught up in this nasty disgusting poisonous web, and to tell them that she will no longer be playing with BFF at school, that she knows how much they hate “having to choose” between J and BFF when they are fighting, and that she will therefore play with others, and will call them on the weekend to get together outside of school.  I hope she has the guts to do it, and to stick with it.
It is so curious to me how people get the power to manipulate others like this girl has done.  I’ve spoken with other parents.  They don’t understand why their daughters are “scared” of BFF to the point of coming home distraught that they “weren’t allowed to play with J.”  They’ve told their mothers, “I would rather play with J, but I’m so scared of being on BFF’s bad side.”  I told J how perplexed I was, but stopped short of telling her she should gather them all and convince them to stop putting up with it along with her.  Because getting them all to gang up on BFF is no better behavior than what BFF is doing.
Which is why I told my daughter to extricate HERSELF from the situation, and assure the other girls that she was not asking them to choose, and will love to spend time with them outside of school.
This is my honest belief:  BFF really loves J, and really wants to be with her all the time.  She would be happy to be with ONLY J — all of the time.  J is a natural friend to all, and does not want to be friends with only one person – and never has wanted that.  This makes BFF feel threatened.  What’s worse, BFF sees how much every one else is drawn to J, and it makes her feel insecure.  While J can attract others to her just be being her funny, happy self, BFF finds herself competing with that through threats and manipulations.   The end result?
A miserable 4th grade full of girls.
ICK!!!

Read Full Post »

I spoke with the other mom.  I was clear about my goals – I was careful not to spew accusations.

J sort of changed the landscape, because at school today – she got up the guts to say “I don’t want to be your BFF anymore.”

The reaction was tearful silence.

instead of calling the mom to say “your daughter is mean to my daughter” I had to call and say “I think my daughter hurt your daughter’s feelings.”

I tried to explain my hopes that our involvement – as loving and involved parents – can prevent our children from devolving into she-devils.

I think I’m optimistic.

I made it clear that if I am 100% wrong (I don’t think I am, and as of right now, either does the other mom) and my daughter is actually a meany-butt, I want to know, and I will deal with it.  I received similar promises in exchange.

I plan to organize a group outing for Saturday – several girls – including J and the ex-BFF – to go to the pool or to a movie or something.

I have to believe that kids are not evil, and that with a little support and encouragement, and a little bit of reinforcement that we are good people – we respect each other – they will follow suit.  They can watch their mothers talk, and they can watch us push aside our instincts – not our good instincts, but our mean-nasty-rip-her-throat-out-instincts — they can, too.  They can take deep breaths and realize that compromise and cooperation serve our interests more than do domination and castration.

Oh wait – we’re girls.

We can’t be castrated.

But whatever.

I want a KIND child.  I want a respectful child.

But a kind, respectful child who is no-one’s doormat.

——————————————————-

(and certainly not the doormat of her nasty-ass politician husband – Jesus, Sue – did you have to be so damned inflammatory?)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »