Monday, April 03, 2006

no more drama

I'm being disciplined. Dealt with. I have been cast out into the office to blog. Darin has sent me here because I am so frustrated and he thinks this will help. I'm of the opinion that I still have to chew on it, and since the situation is not yet over, I'm not sure that blogging will do it. Let's take a stab.

We got a phone call on Thursday from "Jane's father". Jane is not the name of a girl that is in li'l ~j's first grade class. Jane's Father told Darin that li'l ~j. is mean to Jane at school - so mean, in fact, that Jane doesn't want to go to school anymore. We talked with li'l ~j. whose most detailed description was, "We both fight a little bit," and li'l ~j. decided that she should apologize to Jane at school the next day. The plan was (and according to li'l ~j. this is exactly what happened) that li'l ~j. would, first thing on Friday, tell Jane she was sorry and ask if they could be friends. (We did discuss the possibility that Jane might not want to be friends, and li'l ~j. seemed okay with this option - she has other people to hang around with, and prefers playing the sporty games with the boys anyway.) When Darin went to the school on Friday (he volunteers once a week in the cafeteria - a lunch lady of sorts), he saw the girls and asked how things went. He asked Jane, "Is li'l ~j. being nice to you?" Jane answered yes. He then asked li'l ~j., "Is Jane being nice to you?" Li'l ~j. answered yes, but then Katherine said, "No she's not! Jane's not sharing!"

Situation over. Yay, they're friends. What-the-freak-ever.

Until tonight.

Phone rings.

"Hello?"

"Is this li'l ~j.'s mom?"

"Yes, it is."

"My name is Jane's Father. I'm Jane's father."

"My name is Jenny."

"Oh, okay, Jenny."

*he then said...nothing.*

So I said, "Well, we spoke with li'l ~j. and she apologized to Jane on Friday. ...Is there...a problem?"

"Yes. On the same day that li'l ~j. apologized, she ripped a stencil from Jane's hand and wouldn't give it back. Then li'l ~j. gave it to one of her friends."

I ended up passing the phone to Darin because guess what.

I don't care.

But I'll say more about that later. Let me tell you more about the phone call, and subsequent calls to others tonight.

Jane's Father had a LIST of offenses that li'l ~j. has committed against Jane, and made it a point to list every one, and even, at his wife's request, wanted to make it known that "li'l ~j. is not to touch Jane -- ever."

Oh, really?

Good thing Darin was the one to field that comment, because his reaction was, "Well, I appreciate that counsel, and will pass it along to li'l ~j.. And I would ask that you make that same counsel clear in your family regarding Jane not touching li'l ~j.."

After that phone call (which ended with us inviting them to get together, and Jane's Father asking Darin to call him back in a few days when he's had a chance to talk it over with his wife - which Darin won't do), I called Lori, a fellow mom-of-a-first-grader, who happens to be a full-time aide at the school. She's the one that the kids talk to at recess, and tattle to. She's got a rather objective view of all the kids. If li'l ~j.'s acting up, she'll tell me, and I appreciate it. I told Lori what was going on, and she gave me a few pointers, one of which is that I'm not the first parent to be called by these people, and I won't be the last. Lori herself was told off for who-knows-what. The main point of my talking to Lori was to see if li'l ~j.'s behaviour towards Jane was extraordinarily mean, and the response was NO. Lori said that Jane complains daily about someone touching her or bothering her, but Lori doesn't remember her EVER singling out li'l ~j., certainly not lately.

Hm. You'd think that if Jane was going to complain about anyone it would be the girl that makes her not even want to go to school, no?

Then I called Teacher. She apologized, not because she was at fault, but because she thought it inappropriate that I be receiving phone calls about a child's school matter. She said that she'd talk with the girls tomorrow - and assured me that they're already seated on opposite sides of the classroom, if that's a concern (not for me, it isn't). I asked her if she'd please let me know if li'l ~j.'s behaviour towards anyone is a problem, and Teacher agreed.

Oh, I forgot to mention - on Friday after school, when I was talking with li'l ~j. about the situation with Jane, I wanted to make sure that she felt okay being Jane's friend; I told her that if Jane is mean, then li'l ~j. can choose not to be her friend, but she still cannot be mean. She started to get a little hysterical and told me that in math class, Jane announced that li'l ~j. was a liar - that in kindergarten last year (when li'l ~j. didn't even know Jane, as li'l ~j. was in Teacher A's morning class and Jane was in Teacher B's afternoon class), li'l ~j. had told Jane that her (li'l ~j.'s) dad traveled all over the world and then died. Li'l ~j. said, "Mommy, I would NEVER say that. I love you and Papi more than anyone and I wouldn't say that about him. I told Jane that my brother died and maybe she got confused and she just said it over and over and over again so that I'd cry."

Now. Did we mention this to Jane's Father? No, we did not. Because what's the point? But you can be sure that I'll mention it if I need to - you know, if this contest of who-did-what keeps up. (Oh, this is all just so STUPID!!)

Here's what it comes down to: I am not naive enough to believe that my 6 or 7 year old's version of what happened to her at school is always completely accurate, especially when it involves a confrontation with another child. And it's because I think that way that I am so stressed about these parents calling me to report that my child was acting her age. I believe that kids can work these things out - they're little people learning to be big people, right? Of course, there have been times when I've had my windows open and heard language coming from li'l ~j.'s mouth (which she uses to kiss me) that is unacceptable, and she receives an immediate consequence. Believe me, no one - NO ONE - is more strict with li'l ~j. than me. But at the same time, you will not find anyone more fiercely loyal to guarding and standing by her when she, for instance, is being bullied by some girl trying to get her in trouble with her parents. I've got li'l ~j.'s back like no other, and she knows it.

And now. Like I said, we're not going to call these people back. We just feel like it's not our problem. We've invited them to get together to lay everything out, with both girls, to get an accurate perspective...but we doubt they'll accept. But if they do...do I continue to fight this? Aside from protecting li'l ~j. from getting bullied by this girl and her parents, I really don't give a rat's about all of this - stencils and who said what; they'll work it out, because they are of the age where they are learning to deal with this stuff. Or, do I appease these parents: "Oh, well, we'll talk with li'l ~j. about it, and have her apologize to Jane," until they're bored with us and move on to the next family? Because it's clear that they've already made up their minds that they're right. I just hope they're ready for when Jane realizes what her parents are doing ("What?! Why did you tell her to just leave me alone? Why did you have the teacher separtate us? Don't you know that's the WORST thing you could have done?!") and turns all Pink on them. (No offense, Pink - you're okay, but your performance on the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice awards was too adult and slutty for my kids and me.)

What would you do?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have a beer and move on with life!

Azúcar said...

That was helpful.

I'm not saying this because I'm your friend, I'm saying this because I was once on the other side of the phone from a guy who yelled at me for two hours after I made his kid be quiet* at a Mutual activity:
There's nothing else you can do. Get caller ID and don't answer the phone. They've already decided what the situation is, nothing you say or do can change their minds.

If pressed, I'd make it clear that you'd addressed the situation with your daughter and expected that they do the same. Stand your ground. Take relish in the future wasteland that will be Jane's life with such over protective parents.



*and by be quiet I do not mean beating the kid, which I would have liked to have done, I mean sitting in between he and his friend to assure that they knocked it off.

cabesh said...

If they do persist I'd recommend suggesting a meeting with the girls, parents, teacher, and possibly administration. Tell them that this is occuring at school, so you'd like the support of the school to make sure the situation is under control. Suddenly Jane realizes she's being watched and can't lie to her parents-- and may stop her behavior.

Now, for me, the saddest part is that Jane probably feels she has to tell/exaggerate these stories to get attention at home. I would guess that there's more going on there.

Finally, for you, love Rae, relax, pray for peace. Of course we'd rather not have our children take a stencil from someone, but if that's true then it's not the end of the world, right? Like you said, children are learning how to be adults, and Rae will take lessons from you in this matter, so decided what you want he to learn, and teach it.

compulsive writer said...

I truly empathize because I just had this same conversation a couple of weeks ago with the mother of one of Lindsay's "friends." This "friend" is manipulative, mean and one of the most bold-face liers I know. She has been outright mean and disrespectful to me as well as to my daughter. She was harassing my daughter over having quit the soccer team and my daughter had finally (but not forever) decided not to take it anymore and had turned to other friends. Somehow that made Lindsay now responsible for this other girl allegedly being bullied by another group of kids and not wanting to go to school or to church. And it was now all Lindsay's fault. (Normally the first question out of my mouth to Lindsay would've been "What did you do to her first?" but this time I knew better.)

I think you said exactly the right thing to Rae. The truth is our kids are going to have to learn to deal with these type of kids and their parents because they are popping up everywhere. Sad, but true.

And you are right--there is nothing more you can say to the parents--they won't hear you or believe you, even when you speak the truth. And as much as you'd like to set them straight, the truth is, they are ruining their poor daughter's life. It's truly pathetic when you hear parents like that wonder why their kid doesn't have any friends

wendysue said...

Can I just say to Jane's father, "welcome to the first grade, and welcome to the world of girls. Deal."

It seems to me that obviously if it WAS an issue, you would have already heard from the teacher, or other aides at school. They don't feel it's a big enough issue to talk to parents about, so it's NOT a big deal. You and I both know that girls are so overdramatic at this age, reacting too quickly, wanting attention, etc. I think you've done everything you needed to do, I agree with Carina and say don't answer their phone calls. I hate confrontation so I'd say if they keep bothering you, write a letter, since you won't get anywhere talking to them (and send copies to the school, etc.), and consider it over.

It's like you said, these are kids learning to become adults, and thank goodness Rae is learning to be like you, and not Janes father. And big Kudos for actually inviting them to get together. ("Love your enemies.")

And I had to laugh about the "no touching" issue. It reminds me of the Bill Cosby ("as Himself") clip where the kids are saying "would you quit touching me?" , "would YOU quit touching me?", and he says "that's IT! I don't want anyone to touch anyone else for as long as you LIVE!!" and that's why people walk around the way they do.

c jane said...

"Have a beer and move on with life!"
Such good advice.

You didn't name her Jane after me, did you?
(I said I was sorry about that arm twist that one time.)

Remember my tape incident? Parents these days! My golly!

Bek said...

Jen,

Laws....has this guy ever MET a woman before? If he is this stressed about 1st grade drama, 7th grade is going to be a real treat for him (I am the second of 5 sisters....I know drama).

I just echo the same as the above people. These things tend to get us worked up b/c we want our kids to be happy, etc....but the fact is that on any given day in every first grade class across the land, each child will be picked on and will do something mean to another child. That is just the way it is. This is how they learn. Y

ou were calm with Rae and did the right thing.....if he does call again you could request a meeting with the teacher and administration and make it clear that you don't think anything is happening beyond just normal kid stuff (including Jane's behaviour and suggest she is trying to get attention..some kids are just needy). OR, when he calls again just say "this just what kids do. Sometimes they don't agree, sometimes kids complain a lot..it isn't that big of a deal". When you are worked up about something there is nothing worse then someone saying it isn't a big deal. That will KILL the parents.

I can't imagine being that parent...the mom having the DAD call? Derek would laugh me out of the house. They are either wearing some really big parent blinders, or they really think there is a problem...which of course is a bigger problem in itself.

There is a girl in Laurens class that is the manipulative type. I can totally see what she is going to be in 7th grade.anyway, Lauren is always coming home with stories about Maddy....Maddy says I am done, Maddy says I have a crush on John, blah, blah, blah. I finally told her to ignore Maddy and if the said stuff that Lauren didn't like, then she should say "I don't like that". If she continues she should just say "Maddy, you are a troublmaker". Guess who's mom called me b/c my kid called her kid a name? :-) I just laughed at her (not outloud). I said that it seemed like sometimes she WAS a troublemaker and that was how we choose to deal with things in our house. As the mother of a pretty talented troublemaker myself, I would expect my child to get the same treatment. It does make your blood boil.....

Bek said...

Oh, one more thing..

My husband had the most angelic face as a child, not unlike my little birdie. He was very SMMMOOOTTH. He lived in Europe and went to the international school. In Kindergarten, my MIL kept getting calls about him being mean.....she would ask him and he would look innocent and say no...

Finally, a few months later she got called into the school. Apparently he was running a little gang. He would not let the kids go into the bathroom or use the drinking fountian unless they gave him MONEY or treats from their lunch. He even had goons to enforce it (1st graders). Yup, my own little mob boss. He was 5!

My MIL was mortified and said she never thought that he was capeable of that and felt bad that she doubted the other parents that called to complain. Lets just say that I am waiting for the phones to start ringing....

P.S. When I tease Derek about it he says that it was just shades of his future career. He saw a commodity and decided to "manage" it. :-)

LuckyRedHen said...

From the lover of bumper stickers (and windshield stickers), have this one made...

MY 1ST GRADER CAN BEAT UP YOUR 1ST GRADER

I think you've done everything there IS to do and as long as there is no long term emotional or physcical abuse going on between these girls then let them act their age. Too bad the parents aren't.

I love you and your example.

La Yen said...

Here's what you do--you make a big batch of cupcakes, and in one of them put poison. Then you celebrate Rae's birthday with the class. Problem solved.
(W thinks that I am passive aggressive, but I am actually just agressive. NOBODY messes with my Rae!)

Azúcar said...

The more I think about it the more I realized that he called you last night to complain that...

RAE TOOK A STENCIL FROM JANE.

If that's his reaction now, I wonder what his reaction will be when...

JANE IS CAUGHT DEALING CRACK FROM HER TEAL '15 VW CABRIOLET

Mary J. Blige said...

You stole that title from me. You need to be dealt with some more.

Meet me behind the baseball field after school.

Geo said...

I say help the man build his shrine to dysfunction. Buy him a lovely little blank happy thoughts book--or perhaps a great big one would be better--and a package of ball-point pens, and insist that he keeps a detailed log of Rae's offenses. You could tell him that you're deeply interested in every single complaint he has because, as a tough-love parent who is concerned about your child's moral development, you want to be certain that you let none of her future-damning sins go unpunished. Perhaps you could even indulge in some sadistic chat about just what you plan to do to Rae to see to it that she amply pays for her crimes. You could have him suggest some punishments, and then pump up the jam. Insist that he turn his happy thoughts book over to you on weekends so that you can review with your naughty child her wicked, unconfessed deeds, and promise to send it back to him via the girls on Mondays. If you don't manage to freak him out with your fascist zeal and he really sends the book home with you once, then you can vent you spleen and fill up some pages describing exactly what you think about Mr. Father and his harassment project.

more caffeine, please said...

I would tell him that while Rae was stealing the stencil, Jane was stealing locks of hair out of Rae's head and you're going to sue.

Okay, seriously, I would tell him thanks for the info but you'd rather he discuss it with the adults who are actually present during said "Jane Personal Space Violations" (i.e. teachers, parent helpers, etc).

Then give him to call your lawyer named Seymore Butts if he has anymore questions.

MOM said...

Okay, just give me his real name and I can have a hit put out on him. He can't be anyone real important so I am positive his demise will be fairly inexpensive. In the words of your Grandma Ellie "Ya done good" handling this guy. If he does call you back, I think just informing him of the fact that harrassment over the telephone is a FEDERAL OFFENSE (punishable by who knows what)and tell him nicely to just leave you alone. Rae and Jane will work things out to a mutual satisfaction and if anything is of true concern, the school will let you know.

La Yen said...

See==remember what I told you: Anyone who does not love your kids is dumb.

Tori :) said...

RU freakin' kidding me?? Parents like that irritate the $#&*^*& out of me.
I know Lori, I think. Lori J....- Tanner's mom, right? She's in my ward and you're right- she would tell you the truth about Rae's and any other kids behaviour.
I think houw you've handled it is great.

~j. said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments o' support. Especially you, anonymous - you're always so insightful.

I think what I've decided to do is to ignore the phone calls, etc. I do believe that if there were a significant problem, I would be contacted by the school. Plus, we've already apologized once, and beyond that, it's just nonsense (not like it wasn't to begin with). And this is what I'm teaching Rae: I'm happy to work to not offend you (the apology), but I refuse to be manipulated. And so we are ignoring the mean behavior - just as we've suggested that Rae do when she's confronted with it.

Mary J. - I'll be there.

Jaimerly - how did you know the name of my attorney?

tori - yes, that's her. Tanner's mom. You know how she tells it like she sees it. :)

rae's aunt that's pissed said...

yeah, so have dick and jane called back yet? i think that other than jane using this as a way to get attention, i also think maybe she's singled rae out because she's so smart and pretty. that's probably why she doesn't want to go to school. she can't stand the thought that rae's so cool and taking the attention off herself that she craves so much because she's not getting it at home. seriously, jen's right. NOBODY messes with MY RAE. I'm taking a human behavior class right now, so I know all about the these kind of people.

poor jane. she's going to have hell to pay when she grows up and ends up just like her parents.

and mom, not every situation has to turn into a violation of the law where the police need to be involved. besides, todd breckenridge works for the Provo police. what good's that gonna do?

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Lorien said...

Remind me never to piss off Rae's mom. Or Rae's Gramma, or aunties, or friends, or friends of friends...

If Dick calls again, I'd just politely tell him that I've talked with Rae's teacher and that she has agreed to tell me immediately if there are problems with my daughter being unkind, that I will wait to hear from the teacher, and that perhaps he should do the same thank you I'm hanging up now good-bye.

And then Rae should have a rockin party and invite everyone in her class except Jane.

Lorien said...

Did I mention that Dick and his wife Pansy are totally getting yanked around by Jane?

Azúcar said...

A STENCIL.

Lorien said...

Okay, I'm checking in again. C'mon. I need closure. If not closure, then at least more dirt on the sitch. Give me some more DETAILS!

~j. said...

lorien - I loved that you named her Pansy.

No more has happened. It's spring break, but I don't see why that's stopped Dick from calling to let me know what other vile things my daughter has been doing, even if she's not at school.

Of course...the first time he called it was a Thursday evening, so we may get a nice surprise tonight... I would be CERTAIN to fill you all in.

Julie said...

I am seething along with you and have been since you posted this, but I haven't commented yet.

My son had a problem with some girls in his 2nd grade class. They got him to do some inappropriate things in the name of belonging to their "club." [Can I just insert here how much I HATE HATE HATE the whole club thing that kids do?!?!?!?] Of course, they all got caught. But guess who got the 1-day suspension? My son. The girls involved, who were just as responsible for what happened, got...NOTHING.

At first, I just accepted it, because I knew the punishment was appropriate for what had happened. Then, after my son opened up a bit more about the details behind the events, I got angry. Although he chose to go along, he didn't instigate anything--it was all the girls' idea (one girl in particular). He was so desperate for acceptance that he went along. Then he got blamed for the whole thing and was the only one who got any real punishment beyond a lecture from the principal. By the time I realized what was going on, it was too late to make any complaints.

My advice? Hold your ground, and be very thankful that the school officials are supportive. If I had known better and been smarter, I could have handled my son's situation a lot better than I did.

Oh--for what it's worth, it sounds like Jane, Dick, & Pansy all have borderline personality disorder. They all sound EXACTLY like my two ex sisters-in-law, both of whom are BPD.