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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

E was a grouch tonight.  She didn’t really start off that way, but come dinner time, she was snapping at her sister and was the proud owner of a rather unattractive sneer.

after about the 15th eye roll, i asked her, “What is bothering you right now?”

Her response?

“I don’t know! [sorta snarky]  Nothing’s really wrong, but for some reason, everything is irritating me. [snark gone]  I don’t know why.”

I said, “wow, that was refreshingly honest.  Thanks.”

If she can maintain this transparency through her teenage years, I will survive.  I can talk to J instead when E is feeling that way.  I can eat my chili in silence.  I can respect the fact that she is a mass of roiling emotions and hormones and growing-up-ness, as long as she’s honest over rude.

After that interaction, she mellowed out, and we conversed normally for the rest of the meal.

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The Scene:  Harried working mom on her way home after a 12+ hour day, about an hour longer than she planned with.  The mom is wrought with guilt, feeling the pressure of months of a heavy work load.  She is concerned that her family is starting to get sick of it.  At the same time, said Mom is kinda tickled over her new iPhone, and is fussing with it in the backseat of the taxicab when she receives a text from her daughter:

E:  When are you coming home?

M:  I should be there by 7:30. Why?

E:  I just wanted to know.

M: Are you mad?

E:  No.

M:  Sorry that I’m running late.  It was a busy day.

E:  It’s okay.

M:  Are you sure?

E:  MOM!  I’m watching Heroes!  Stop texting me!

M:  So, here I am, feeling guilty that you’re missing me because I’m working too much, and in reality, you just want me to stay gone long enough for you to finish your television show?

E:  That about sums it up.  Now can you stop texting me?

Harumph.

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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.

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I do not write this blog to educate others.  I am not here to give you instruction or advice.  There have been times that people have read my blog and thought perhaps I would have some advice, or experiences to share, and they’ve written to me through my publicized e-mail, and they received the advice and they’ve received more details. Through a private conversation.

If you want to know what it’s like to be a lawyer-mom, then you’re going to have to find people who want to tell you what it’s like.  You don’t have the luxury of just browsing the internet and stumbling on this blog, which is MINE (not yours), and having that particular detail of my life exposed to you.

Blogs are public.

My job is important to me.

It is not the fodder for public commentary.

Regardless of the “honesty” that you feel I have somehow committed to just by using up this URL.

Having a blog has NOTHING to do with my livelihood.  I will not risk one for the sake of the other.

If you want “honesty” from people – dig a little fucking deeper than clicking on a link.  That’s not where real sharing comes from in my life.

Real sharing comes from a give and a take – from an investment in each other’s lives.  From some sort of trust which – in my opinion – cannot be built amongst strangers.

Hell – in my experience – real trust can barely be built through years of friendship.

So if you want more – give more.  Make a fucking effort.   Don’t just sit there whining about other people’s choices and other people’s refusal to hand you your life’s research on a platter.

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I had a delicious time off.  It was absolutely rejuvinating, and a great time for the girls and I.  We had a lot of together time, including conversations, games of Monopoly, Frisbee sessions, walks, frappucinos, smoothies, races, long drives to Connecticut, a day in New York City, time with the grandparents and with the baby cousin, etc.

Now they’re singing, and it’s giving me a headache.  They’re bickering, and it’s like fingernails down the chalkboard.

Tomorrow, I head back to work ….

WOO HOO!!!!

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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!!!

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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?)

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