Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Really? I mean, REALLY?

Ok, in case I haven't mentioned this before, I dislike drama. I know you may find that hard to believe coming from someone, shall we say, "animated" like me. But it's true. I hate drama and confrontation and tend to avoid it at all costs. KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid is more my speed. In fact I've been known to stop hanging out with certain friends in the past because all they want to do is stir the pot with gossip and drama. Ugh.

More often than not, I like to use my blog to write things I think are inspiring, thought-provoking, clever or just down-right funny. Rarely do I use it to vent. However, today is a day I must turn to the blogosphere as it is an issue that I have been mulling over now for four days, give or take a few hours, haha.

Saturday morning I went on a hike with a friend in the mountains. I was tired when I got back and a migraine ensued. I dropped PrettyPrettyPrincess off at a birthday party, came home took some meds and laid down for a nap. I don't know how much time had passed, but I was awakened from a deep sleep by the doorbell. In a half-daze I went to the door and there stood a mother of a student (Let's call her Jane) from my daughter's class. She wanted to speak to my daughter. But since she wasn't home she proceeded to tell me instead. She handed me a letter claiming that my daughter and 4 other girls wrote this letter and gave it to "Jane" on the last day of school. I wasn't going to post the letter, but I think in order to get a clear perspective I'm going to now. Here is what the letter said:

"We are very sorry we have to write this. We hope you will understand what we are about to say. We have realized that you have been drifting away from us and so have we. It is time we should stop being friends. We hope you will still be an acquaintance and we will not be enemies. In the past we were all perfect for each other and we balanced each other out. But now, we have grown apart. Metaphorically speaking, we are six trees, each of us a different kind. Let's say that in the beginning your tree was an Aspen, but now you are a Maple and we don't cooperate well with Maples. Please understand our situation. Sincerely, Your Acquaintances."

Ok - upon first reading it, I was a little surprised as it sounds like the other "trees" are purposely not going to "cooperate" with Jane. Again, I was in a deep fog and didn't really say much to Jane's mother. She continued to talk, stating that the girls have 1 more year of elementary school together (and they WILL be in the same classroom, since they are all in the gifted/talented program) and that they "need to learn to be friends for at least one more year." Jane's mother continued to tell me that she had already visited the other's girls' homes and even told one girl, "Izzy" in front of her mother, "Shame on you. You are a student body officer. People look up to you, you're supposed to be an example." Anyway, the mother left a copy of the letter with me and I told her I would ask PrettyPrettyPrincess about it. The mother said she wanted to inform me because she believes that PrettyPrettyPrincess is being influenced by these girls. Then the mother said they are "in the book" if PrettyPrettyPrincess would like to call Jane to apologize later.

When I picked up PrettyPrettyPrincess from the party I simply asked, "Who's Jane?" She replied, "A girl from school. Why?" I asked, "Are you friends with her?" To which she replied, "No." I then asked, "Why is that?" She replied, "Because she's never liked me." I further asked, "Why do you say that?" To which she replied, "Several times throughout the year she will tell the girls in my class not to hang out with me. I don't even know why." I asked, "Have you ever done anything mean to her?" She replied, "No Mom. She is the girl that has been mean to us all year long." And as the conversation continued, I gathered that Jane is a pot-stirrer. She basically cycles through the girls, trying to exclude one from the others and then after a while will move on to the next one. I asked PrettyPrettyPrincess about the letter. She said that she did not write it and knew that 2 of the other girls had discussed it. But basically, they were all tired of her drama and they decided they did not want to be friends with her anymore.

I advised PrettyPrettyPrincess that while she does not have to be friends with anyone who makes her feel uncomfortable, she still needs to be friendly. I advised her that the better solutions would have been to either ignore the situation or if they felt it bad enough to sit down and talk to Jane and specifically explain what they felt the problems were. The letter was too vague and only made it seem like 5 girls against 1. I then asked her if she felt like she should apologize to Jane. She said, no, and that she didn't feel she had done anything wrong.

Now, at that point I was going to let it go. But then the other mothers started to email and call. There was supposed to be a "school's out party" this weekend, put on by this other girl "E" and PrettyPrettyPrincess. E's mom told her that as a consequence of the letter there would be no party, as E is the one who wrote the letter. I also found out that the issue began last year via an email exchange in which Jane told the other girls not to be friends with E anymore. When E asked her why she would do this she replied, "Because you're a freak. A big fat freak." It was cyber-bullying, so E's mom printed it off and took it to Jane's mother.

So where does this leave me now? The other mothers are all going to make their daughters apologize. The more I read and reread the letter, the more I don't see anything mean. Now that I know the history I think these girls handled themselves fairly well for 11 year-olds. They tried to take care of it themselves. Their words were not demeaning. They were not hateful. They obviously put a lot of thought into it -- I mean who says "Metaphorically speaking...?"

I do realize that the letter probably came as a shock to Jane. And that perhaps the bluntness of "It is time that we should stop being friends" may have felt like a slap. But really?

My problem is, if PrettyPrettyPrincess does not apologize she will be the only one, and will this cause her more grief next year? Furthermore, after stewing over this the past 4 days (give or take a few hours) I can't help but feel Jane's mother is a bit manipulative. I mean, what she said to "Izzy" -- isn't that sort of bullying? And then there is the bit where she told me, "I'm in the book if PrettyPrettyPrincess wants to call to apologize", letting me clearly know that an apology is expected. There are a lot of things I can tolerate, but manipulation isn't one of them.

Do I need to do anything more? Do I talk to the mother? Or am I best to just let it go and hope that PrettyPrettyPrincess doesn't get the wrath of it down the road? Or should I tell PrettyPrettyPrincess that apologizing for something she didn't do wrong is being the bigger person?

What would you do?

Okay -- feeling better already...


RhondaLue said...

Ok when reading that letter, before you even stated your opinion about it, I felt like it wasn't a mean or bullying letter at all. It was a nice way to say "this isn't working out" and there is NOTHING wrong with that. There was no name-calling, insults thrown, or put-downs in any way! And I would say they were well spoken (that's the gifted coming through, ha ha!)

There is nothing to apologize for in my opinion.

The adult woman that came to your door had NO business at all to specifically ask for your daughter. Adults should speak with the other adults, not to the child. THAT is bullying and intimidating no matter how nicey-nice they try to be(or ACT, more like). I would NEVER do that as it's inappropriate at the very least. The most I would do is tell someone to watch their mouth if they were being foul in my presence. Anything of more depth goes through the parent.

Having been on the other end, it is difficult to have your child singled out. Desi was the receiver of a letter in jr high but her letter was making fun of her looks and style. It was mean-spirited and it affected her deeply. These were all LDS girls too and I was shocked. But, even then I wouldn't take the letter to the parents. Teen girls say and do things that are snotty, excluding, and not very nice. It's part of life. We can't tattle on someone forever to change the outcome or how they treat us, it's just not realistic. On the OTHER hand, when one girl spent MUCH of her energy being nasty and mean to Desi I did then involve the parent. It was the day Desi was getting in the van that the girl walked by her and I saw her mouth a vulgarity (the one you can tell what they are saying from a mile away) and the mother was totally on our side, got her own daughter suspended, grounded, and had all sorts of discipline flyin' around. lol

Anyway, I wouldn't make her apologize, but that's just me. If you feel it would be easier to just have her do it, then I would be clear to apologize for how she must have felt (I'm sure any of us would be sorry if someone felt picked on, whether or not they actually were-that's a crappy way to feel) but not for writing the letter or for being mean because she didn't write the letter and even if she did she wasn't being unkind in said letter!

Ok I'm done. drama is dumb.

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

Girls will never understand why boys punch their buddies in the arm or the groin and boys will never understand why girls will form a group of friends and then start excluding parts of their own group. You sure seem to be in a delicate spot here but if your assessment of what happened is spot on then I would say P.P.P. has nothing to apologize for. Grade school relationships come and go. Sometimes they end quickly and sometimes they just fade. But why o why is Jane's mom SO involved and active in all this? What does she get out of all this? What is the payoff for her? Is her opinion that her daughter is always being dealt with unfairly or harshly by the world? I'm betting the lady is a huge pain to work with.

okeydokeyifine said...

You might call the mother and say that your daughter will choose her own friends and that even though she may not want to be friends with her daughter, that you have instructed your daughter to be friendly with everyone. That they do not have to be best buds. Somehow this sounds like a familiar story to me....it seems as when you were young....

Ruthykins said...

Write a letter to the mother that is strikingly similar to the daughter's letter. That's what I would do.

greenolive said...

This whole situation is ridiculous. I agree that the letter is not offensive. Sometimes you have to let friends go if they aren't acting like true friends. Perhaps the ganging up feeling is what bothered the mother. I think if PPP were my daughter and she was friends with Jane, instead of having PPP apologize I would have her go and talk to the girl to end the friendship. But if there wasn't a friendship to begin with then PPP should have been left out of it. I think that if you're having bad feelings towards Jane's mom, than it would be okay for you to calmly discuss those with her. As she has probably never had anyone tell her that she has behaved badly it might give her something to think about. Otherwise she may think she came out the victim/hero.

Susie said...

I feel sorry for the girl whose mom feels like she needs to fight her battles for her. Good luck in the real world, Honey.

I would call/email this mom and tell her that you don't think your daughter did anything wrong and that she has no intention of apologizing. I would suggest to this mother to look at her daughter's involvement and to give her tools to better deal with these types of things in the future on her own.