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?
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.
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