Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘School Issues’ Category

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 »

Even though my past two posts were full of how great my kids are, we are of course, well rounded people.  With issues and up hill battles and what not.

Which is why I now have an appointment in place for E to visit with a therapist.

I mentioned that during Play Weekend I had my first ever negative parent-teacher conference regarding E.  It was a regularly scheduled (twice a year) conference, and I knew going in that she is not the perfect child.  I think as she gets older, and school becomes more independent and more social, these imperfections become more obvious to the teachers.  The structure is a little looser, but demands are higher.

I also went in feeling like a new kind of parent – one who doesn’t know everything about her kid’s life anymore.  She’s a little more close-to-the-vest now with her days, and her friends, and whatnot.  Oh, she definitely enjoys telling us what they’re doing in school and I get various stories, but I have caught wind that she’s had issues with her teachers that she doesn’t talk to me about.  I was taking consolation in the fact that if they were big issues, I would have heard from the teacher.

The conference was opened with, “We’ll start with the hard stuff.”  Then some blah blah about the transitions that kids go through in 6th grade, then “She makes me so angry that I feel like my head is going to explode right on top of my shoulders!!!”  [I have repeated this quote so many times to so many people, I feel like it should be my tag line for the year.]

Before I go on – let’s put this into perspective.  I had about 24 hours where I lacked perspective – between the conference and E’s report card showing up.  From what her teachers were saying (actually, it was one out of three), I was thinking I would have Cs and Ds delivered into my mailbox on Saturday.

Not so.  She had 4 A’s one B.  They also have “effort” and “behavior” grading – 1 – 4.  One is “excellent,” 2 is “good,” 3 is “inconsistent” and 4 is bad.  She had mostly 1’s, with 2’s from this particular teacher.  He told me she was on the verge of 3’s, but he didn’t give her 3’s, because he hadn’t sent home a progress report mid-marking period, which is supposed to alert us parents to improvements or deficiencies since the last report card.

Back to the conference.  She makes him mad because she won’t go outside to recess.  I could not understand.  If I tell E to go outside, she goes outside.  How can she just NOT go?  But my first question was “why?”  I asked, “do you know if she’s having difficulties with the other kids, that’s making recess difficult and making her want to avoid it?”  The teacher-who-hates-her looked at me as if I either a) had two heads or b) was the stupidest person on earth.  “That has nothing to do with it – she stays inside to work on projects.”  Teacher-who-loves-her said, “That has everything to do with it – that’s always what informs the kids’ decisions at recess.”  Teacher-who-hates-her took a minute to make his head stop spinning.  Huh?  Teacher-who-loves-her said, “she doesn’t have any problems – she’s getting along fine with everyone, she just wants to stay inside if her friends are inside.”

I was working very hard to not be railroaded at this conference (3 teachers: 1 parent), and so some pieces didn’t come together until later.

The complete recess picture:  Kids stay inside to do other things.  They are no longer required to go out.  As of next year, it’s not even called “recess” but rather a “free period” and they don’t even go out to the playground.  This year is a transition.  The 6th graders who do go outside don’t “play” anymore.  They wander around and talk.  They sit on benches and talk.  However, teacher-who-hates-her needs a break from E.  Because his head needs to re-group and not explode.  So E, and only E, has to go outside for recess.  Unless he tells her to stay inside, which is often.  Or unless the kid-driven activist group is having a meeting, which is once a week.  Or unless one of the teachers holds a review session during recess.  Which is often.  Or unless one of the teachers wants to discuss something with a kid about their grade or homework or a discussion in class – which is often.

Sound confusing?  The way we left the conference on the recess point was “I will tell E that she has to go outside for recess.  Please keep in touch with me about this.  There is no reason why if you say ‘E, go outside’ for her to just not listen.  If I tell E to go outside, she goes outside.  I need to know if this continues.”

On Monday, E comes home.  I ask, “what did you do at recess today?”  She says, “I stayed to talk to [teacher who wasn’t at the conference] and then I went outside.”  The next day “What did you do at recess?” [teacher-who-hates-her] made her stay inside to work on a “card.” (not a school assignment, but a project that a few kids were assigned to make a thank-you for someone who came to speak to the class.)  The next day was a meeting.  The next day she went outside.  The next day was a review session.

And he hasn’t called me.

The other issue:  E does this thing that he calls “spinning.”  He is not wrong.  I call it “getting stuck.”  E hits a wall in her own head, and she can’t explain to herself how to turn around and walk around it.  It’s been this way since she was 3.  The more I think about it over the past weeks, the more I think it’s a self-soothing skill that she’s lacking.  So I suppose it traces back to me as her mother in her days of infancy.  I held her too much.  I shouldn’t have co-slept.  I should have taught her to calm her own self down.  I’ve been trying to do so – I’ve spoken with her since she was 1 about ‘taking deep breaths’ and ‘finding solutions’ rather than freaking out and getting hysterical when something is thrown in her path – but it hasn’t worked.  (Clearly.)

This is how it looks to her teacher:  He hands out a homework sheet during the morning.  Explains it 1/2 way, has to stop because it’s time to go to Gym.  Tells them to put it in their desk.  At the end of the day, with about 20 minutes left to class, he returns to the sheet, tells them to take it out.  They go into their desks and get the sheet.  But E goes into her desk, moves some papers around, and frantically raises her hand.  He asks her what’s wrong.  “I can’t find mine!  It’s gone!  I think I left it on my desk and it got thrown away!”  He says “E, I’m in the middle of explaining this to the class right now, I’ll have to go and make you another copy after class lets out.”  She freaks out further “I can’t! I have to go somewhere right after school and I’m in a carpool and we’ll be late if I stay after class!” (true.)  She is not calm as she’s explaining this, she’s sort of frantic.  He’s pissed off.  His head is starting to crack around the edges.

This was a story that he told during the FALL conference.  So come spring, when the behavior is still presenting itself, he’s PISSED OFF.  (And she knows it – he’s yelled at her for it, and singled her out during end-of-the-day-whole-class-lectures enough that she’s well aware of his opinion of her, and it has driven her to tears in class, which has resulted in him yelling at her more and sending her out of the classroom.)  I spoke to E about this after the fall conference.  I talked to her about what she could have done different.  We talked about noticing the internal signs that she’s starting to get worked up, and early on, choosing instead to push the pause button.  To breathe deeply, and realize that there is always a solution.  I told her that we live right near the school.  I told her that taking 2 minutes after class to tell her teacher that she had to go, and could he please put the copy on her desk, and she will pick it up later – would not have made her late.  We talked about how if you can stop and think, there is always a way to work things out – that we always DO work things out.  She said okay. I followed up with this conversation later – this was not a one time conversation.

Yet we were back to the same theme in the spring conference …

Hater-teacher then segued into the fact that she is not doing well in math.  That she’s “lacking confidence” and “not using her resources” and “not trying hard enough.”  The behavior he explains is very similar to what her 4th grade teacher identified, and things taht we have been attempted to talk her through at home.

Guess what it is?  She hits a wall, and doesn’t know how to move around it without having her hand held.  “I need help!”  “I can’t do this!”  “It’s too hard!”

I pointed that out to him, and again he looked at me like I either a) had two heads, or (this time) b) was an absolute genius.  “Wow.  I never that about that.  You’re right.”  Then he says,  “Well, then.  I’ll have a conversation with her.”  Really?  A conversation?  I never fucking thought of that!  Maybe I’ll go home now, and have a little chat, and then … waa la!  All fixed!  I told him, “Mr. Hater, we’ve been having conversations with E since she was 3.  A ‘conversation’ is not going to fix this.  She is not moving forward like she should be, and so we will have to look at other solutions.”

So I said, “so perhaps this is not only about YOUR irritation with E, but rather something that she needs to work out and deal with — what we’re all doing isn’t working. ”  (Wha?  Huh?  Belittling and driving a child to tears isn’t helping her to work out some behavioral/psychological issues?  why not?)  “Perhaps we need to look at additional resources.”

“No.  E is a great kid.  these are small areas.  She is an A student.  She’s remarkable in English, Social Studies and Science – she’s the lead in the play – she has a lot of friends – she’s a good student.  She doesn’t need additional resources.”

Teacher-Who-Loves-Her went on to say that he totally “gets” her – she’s a social person who does fantastic in those subjects that lend to social exploration of issues.  She’s an excellent thinker and conversationalist, and she keeps all of her classes moving with her lack of fear of taking a minority viewpoint.  The problem is that MATH is not a social subject.  Kids don’t sitting around talking about the fascination of sums and negative numbers.  You can’t bounce mathematical ideas off your classmates.

I appreciate the support, nice-teacher-man, and I appreciate your constant counterpoints to the Hater.

However, the math issue is a small offshoot of the bigger problem (emotional issues – lack of self control/self soothing, self whatever).  And even if it were its OWN problem, a kid can’t kiss math goodbye in 6th grade.  The child needs to conquer this emotional barrier to an intellectual area that she is 1000% capable of doing well in.

Seriously – she had homework a couple weeks ago on the first day of their unit on negative numbers.  She called me at work to say “I can’t do my math.”  This happens at least 2 or 3 times a week.  Almost every time, I say “Alright, E, save it for last, and we’ll look at it when I get home.”  9 times out of those 10, she pulls it out when  I’m home, re-reads the instructions and says, “oh, nevermind, I get it now.  I read the instructions wrong.”

This time, though, it was hard.  I looked at the sheet and thought “crap.  I don’t remember negative numbers.”  But I sat down with her anyway, and we went through it.

I didn’t need to remember negative numbers.  She understood it perfectly.  If I could break down the steps for her, she could sail through them.  She had a full understanding of the number line, and how to move up and down it with adding and subtracting of negatives and positives.  She just needed to see it as a series of ledges, rather than the face of a mountain.

I used to think that her trouble with math was that it doesn’t come as automatically to her as the language arts/social studies area does.  She can’t just dive into the middle and shoot from the hip like she can with literature, writing, history.  She has to actually STOP and THINK, and to her, that feels “wrong” when everything else comes so easy.  But I think I misread it – I think it is more the same exact issue as I described above – an emotional hurdle that she has, and that she needs to master.

I am not happy that her teacher doesn’t like her.  I don’t like that he’s more consumed with his irritation than he is with solutions.  I don’t like that out of the three things he raised as problems, he did not ONE TIME look for reasons, explanations, or underlying problems.  That he was shocked when these connections were pointed out to him.  I think it was nice to have the counter-balance of the teacher-who-loves-her, but the more I thought about it later, the more I felt that the Hater was out of line.

But the reality is, we would be better off if this happened in the younger years, and it is more than likely going to continue to happen (she is not going to have the good fortune of loving all of her teachers from here on out, and they are not going to all love her).  If she wasn’t adored every year until now, perhaps I would have been forced to look outside the school to help E work out these other issues.

Her teachers this year have the entire grade on their radar.  The kids are in classes of 20, but they rotate amongst the teachers for the various subjects.  So while the Hater is her homeroom teacher, he also teaches the other two classes of 6th graders at various parts of the day.  He can’t know every aspect of 60 kids.  And perhaps he teaches 6th grade (as opposed to third, or kindergarten) because he doesn’t WANT to know every aspect of them.  And this is only going to continue.  Next year, the 7th grade teachers also teach 8th grade.  In high school …. well, I don’t need to go on.

And so, I am looking to provide E with the tools that she needs to continue to be that A student that she is more than capable of.  To even have the tools to deal with a personality conflict and not allow it to overcome her perception of school (so far hasn’t happened) and cause her to check out and become the C student her mother was.

I so don’t want her – with all of her abilities and talents – to become the C student that her mother was.

I don’t want her to spend 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grades sneering at her teachers, like her mother did.  I want her to keep loving school.  Maybe even more than she does now.  I want her to look at intellectual pursuits as fun.  (Debate team, perhaps?)

I am not sure what the answer is.  I toyed with tutoring – with therapy – and wondered if there was something in between.  Is there a “behavioral training” or an “emotional coach”?  I want her to have coping skills.  Seems more concrete than “therapy.”  I mean, I’m sure therapy is great, and will help her in an overall manner.  Of course when i spoke to the intake coordinator, the second they hear that she lives with her mother and step-father, and her father and step-mother live out of state, they’re all over her – of COURSE she needs therapy!!!  And perhaps that’s true.

But I really want to be sure that she gets real hard and fast tools as well.  Something Beloved and I have tried so hard to give her, but nothing “sticks.”  We talk to her about ways to calm herself down – to take a moment to focus her mind.  She says okay, and we see her try for at least a week.  But then she stops, and when we remind her, she rolls her eyes at us.

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 »

We had a nice morning.  I went to see the house (man, does that thing need to be ripped down and built from scratch), and then the bank, to move things around to cover our security deposit and first month’s rent, and then to both girls’ basketball games where I got my day’s fill of socializing.

But when we got home, J was instantly antsy.  She wanted to go somewhere with a friend.  But I am going out tonight, and didn’t want to go out morning afternoon and evening.  I’m not that kind of person.  But she was unhappy with me.  She was irritable, and quick to cry.  Which isn’t so typical.

I went to find out what was wrong, and the floodgates opened.

I have known that she’s been having trouble with her BFF this year.  It’s been pretty bad.  J shared in the past that feels like she “gets in trouble” when she plays with other friends, and that she spends most of her time this year worrying that BFF is mad at her, and not knowing what to expect when she walks through the door of the school.

Today she shared a lot more of mean behavior.  MEAN, I tell you.  BFF has been gathering troops against J and whenever J even looks at her in a way she doesn’t like, BFF instructs all the others not to speak to J for the rest of the day.  They often don’t listen, but J is afraid of the day they do.

She told me of several days where they go out to recess, and BFF ignores J, so J goes and plays with other kids.  At the end of recess, BFF will come up to J and say “you failed.”  And J says, “what do you mean?”  BFF answers, “You didn’t play with me, so you failed.”  J inquires further, and BFF says, “It was a test to see if you would come play with me, and you FAILED.”  And then spends the day ignoring J.

It’s really horrid, some of the stories.

I am at a wee bit of a loss as to how to counsel J.  Because when BFF ignores her, she tells everyone ELSE to ignore J, and they’re scared that if they don’t do what BFF says, she’ll be mean to them, too, so they all listen.

But just until BFF is out of earshot.  Then they run over to J and play.

So I am of course telling J she needs to stand up to this girl (who I have really always adored —  but yet, I always knew she had this in her.  I just never saw it happening).  But I know that at the same time, I’m telling J to deal with being on the outs for a little while.

We happen to have a parent/teacher conference on Tuesday, and I’m thinking of asking for some intervention.  They right now share a “desk cluster” with each other and 2 other girls.  J feels that she can’t address this when she’s sitting on top of the child every day.  I’m thinking of asking for her teacher to move her desk.

But first, I may talk to BFF’s mom.  Since we’re supposedly friends.  I am trying to think of the right tact to take.  I think it has to be about J’s feelings only – and not accusations about BFF’s behavior.  At least at first.

It all sucks.

Read Full Post »

It was a busy weekend.

  1. E had a friend sleep over on Friday night.  It went well.  It is a friend who I have had some issues with before – her behavior, her negativity, her influence on E.  There was none of that this weekend.  She was flexible, fun, and really pleasant to have around.  It was very nice.  She’s the daughter of a friend, so it was good that it went well.
  2. Both girls had basketball games on Saturday a.m.  Beloved took J to her early game (where she scored a basket, and was very proud, because it was against the Tall Team).  E and her friend walked to theirs alone.  No.  I did not go. There are only two teams in their age bracket (b/c it’s 6-8th grades, and 7th and 8th graders can play for the school teams, and usually choose that over the town team).  Every week, the two teams play each other.  It’s very casual, not competitive, and frankly — boring.  E doesn’t care if I’m there or not, just enjoys running around with her friends.  If I am there, she spends more of her energy monitoring my conversations with other parents (to be sure I don’t say her name …. even if I say “Oh, E is due for a teeth cleaning” or “E’s birthday is in September” she hears her name and has a fit) than she does playing the game.
  3. My parents came in at noon on Saturday.  Mom was having some back pain, so they were a little slow-moving, which was fine with us.
  4. E went to a movie with friends.
  5. J had a girl scout meeting – where she baked bread.
  6. Me, Beloved, Mom and Dad went to see a three bedroom apartment that is for rent. It was pretty nice, but short a bathroom and probably one room.  I also was totally put off by the other occupant of the 2 family house, which may or may not be the owner’s mother-in-law.  Things were a little fuzzy. I think that the space issues could have worked out, but the downstairs person was the deal killer.
  7. Once we collected the girls back at home, we all went out to dinner.  At your typical chain steak-house, which is the sort of place we always go with my parents.  They don’t like my favorite places, they find them “weird” – but I’ll take a steak any day.  J had salmon, and E ate a 1/2 rack of baby back ribs.  The food was pretty good.  My dad got all sappy on me when I offered to pick up the tab …. something about being so proud that I am now in a position where I can do that, but that he won’t let me until I’m “caught up.”  I don’t know waht that means.  Do I have to catch up with HIM?  Catch up with my bills?  Pay off all my school loans?  Whatever he meant – thanks for dinner, dad.
  8. Then, this morning, we cursed the time change as Beloved trudged off to a Sunday morning meeting and my parents and I left two sleeping children to go and see my office.  My parents were duly impressed.  They liked my view, the name plaque on my door, and the building at large.  I think my air-conditioning-fixing dad was a bit proud of his eldest child.  He couldn’t have said so more times.  Mom was just happy to see all the pictures of E and J around the room (and both her nephews, as well).  I think she was reassured that my job does not mean that I’ve forgotten that I still have 2 kids.
  9. We then came home and I dragged the girls out of bed at ELEVEN AM!!!  Shit!!  I know it only felt like 10 them.  And 10 is a normal weekend wake up time for them.  But today it was ELEVEN.  Which does mean that now, at 11:28 p.m., I can hear E tossing and turning and sighing heavy, frustrated, insomniatic sighs.
  10. My dad made waffles.  I don’t know what he did, but the house still smells like syrup.  What the fuck?  We had pancakes yesterday, and the house didn’t smell like syrup all day.  I think it’s because despite the real Vermont maple syrup that we stay stocked in, Dad brought his Aunt Jemima’s, and those artificial flavorings have chemically attached themselves to the paint.  Even Beloved’s stir fry couldn’t rid us of the smell.
  11. I did 8 loads of laundry.
  12. Mom, Dad and I went to 4 open houses.  As in – homes for SALE.  There were several nice ones.  I am not going to push to buy right now.  Even though our jumbo mortgage limit in the Boston area was raised to the point that I likely can buy a few of them.  I’m just not willing to do so just to find myself upside down in a year or so, wanting to move b/c my condo is too small for 2 teenagers and all their friends that they keep dragging home.  I’m resigned to be a renter for a couple more years.  Just not here.  It’s too small.
  13. Then they left.  My parents.  And I was going to go with E to a play, but I was quite frankly exhausted, so I bowed out, and spent some time organizing my ridiculous amounts of clothing, hanging out with J and Beloved, and resting for a minute, because I knew I had to …
  14. Go to the “let’s talk about our 6th graders” meeting that was scheduled for tonight.  Ugh.  That was stressful.  It was about relationships and dating.  About whether or not kids have sex in high school, whether there’s kissing in 6th grade, and whether kids are “grinding” on the dance floor at their little dances this year.   This requires a post of its own.  Because from that discussion came at home discussions, and things just went spiraling off into weirdness (as J called it, until I told her it was NOT weird, it was normal, because it all happens to everyone, and if it didn’t, then there would be no people).  Oh yeah, we had a sex talk, baby.  Replete with erections and ejaculations and the difference between semen and urine.  Beloved was dragged into it, and was stellar.  I shall try to remember to post more about this tomorrow.
  15. It’s a little more stressful that next time, I somehow ended up the chair of the meeting.  Ugh.  We will be talking about Freedom for 6th graders.
  16. Then E caught me snooping around on her phone.  I tried to turn the volume down, and was looking at who she called and who called her, and she came out of her room.  I had time to hide the phone in a towel, and she said, “I’m looking for a book.”  And Beloved told her to go to bed.  But then she found her book and said, “oh, I should put my phone in my purse.  Oh.  Where’s my phone?  I thought I put it right there.”  Dammit.  She totally heard me before I turned the volume down.  All I could was laugh and say, “fine, it’s right here, you snot, stop erasing your text messages.”  She laughed at me and said, “mom! They were all to you!!”  But she didn’t erase her call log, and there’s no denying that a certain boy has been calling her almost daily.  The calls are quick.  Not long.  She tells me that they involve questions about homework and such.  Hmmmm.

And that is what happened on yet another weekend where Zuska brought her work computer home just to leave in her bag all.  weekend.  long.

Fortunately, there are no deadlines until Wednesday.

I don’t blow off deadlines.

Really.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »