I’ve really been neglecting this blog. I sometimes think about shutting it down, especially since most of my regular readers are now friends on Facebook. I do post status updates there, but mostly I read other people’s. And I can’t write a book on Facebook like I think I’m going to today.
We had an incident in the neighborhood about two weeks ago now. I’ve been wrestling with it internally, and am going to throw it out there. I’d love some feedback on how to handle this (or not) going forward.
We have lived in our neighborhood almost 5 years. Right across the street there is a family with a girl, S_____, a few months older than Krystal (a grade ahead though) and a boy three years older than her (so 4 years older than Krystal). I have never really cared for S______, and the boy has gotten mouthy as he’s gotten older. Krystal goes out of her way to ingratiate herself to S____ but I’ve seen manipulation and cruelty, as well as rudeness to me, from her on many occasions. I was so happy when Krystal started hanging out with another girl down the street, but this particular kid lives so close that sometimes she is the “convenient” one to play with. I should also add that the parents have divorced since we’ve lived here. The dad moved to Florida and the mom works nights as a nurse. We have always had a friendly “hi, hello” type of relationship, but we are not friends by any means.
About two weeks ago on a Sunday Krystal was outside playing with the S_____. She came running inside crying and said in the most pathetic, humiliated voice, “S___ pantsed me!” She said that S____ had taken her scooter and when Krystal asked for it back, S_____ said no, and rode off laughing. She then changed her mind and gave it back and “pantsed” Krystal. (for anyone not in the know, it means she pulled her pants, or in this case shorts, down). Krystal said her underwear came off too. I looked outside for S____ but she had gone inside and frankly I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, even though I was furious. I just reminded Krystal that S_____ was not a good friend (a conversation we’ve had over and over) and to stay away from her.
A few days later I was waiting at the bus stop for the kids to come home from school. Krystal got off the bus absolutely sobbing, and her friend from down the street was comforting her. Through hiccups and tears I got that this incident had come up on the bus (Krystal admits she’s the one who brought it up), but that S____ claims she only pantsed Krystal because Krystal lifted her shirt up, which Krystal emphatically denied. Apparently there was much yelling and taking sides on the bus ride and my kid was miserable. S_____ had booked it home while we were still standing at the bus stop, and I asked Krystal if she wanted me to talk to S_____. She said yes, which is a first — she never wants me to get involved in friend drama.
So we walked towards S____’s house and I called her name twice. The second time she turned around and shouted “Leave me alone!” before storming into her house. Her mother was in the driveway, having just arrived home from somewhere. She said that she thought the kids should just stay away from each other for awhile, and I said I thought it was more than that. Keys in hand, she started poking at Krystal and getting all in her face. I called her on her demeanor and her accusing tone to Krystal (who was still sobbing the entire time). She defended S_____ by saying Krystal had pulled up her shirt, which Krystal still denied. The mom then accused me of treating Krystal like a princess (Is that a bad thing? I’m sure she’d never have said that if she could see us behind closed doors!). She claimed she’s seen Krystal give it back to her kids and I said I’d seen S____’s poor behavior to Krystal since she was 5 years old. I really wish I’d handled it better once this started. She was getting personal towards ME, when she knows nothing about me, and which has absolutely nothing to do with what had happened between our kids, and I let it get to me and started fighting back. I can think of a hundred things I wish I’d said instead. The mom also said that it was exhausting having her kid be blamed for everything.
We ended it at an impasse, mostly because I had a sobbing kid standing next to me, and the mom wanted to go in and deal with her own kid.
We came home and I tried comforting Krystal a bit, and a few minutes later the doorbell rang. S____ and her mom were there, and we stepped outside to talk. Both girls gave their version of events. They both agreed on everything, except the shirt pulling up. S_____ said it happened, and Krystal said it didn’t. S_____ did admit to “pantsing” Krystal though. Krystal apologized for bringing the incident up on the bus, and we all agreed that any future incidents would be dealt with immediately – tell your mom so we can handle it right way. I thanked them both for coming, and we all went back to our daily lives. (Krystal noted after they left that S____ never actually apologized for pantsing her – true.)
Sounds like a decent enough resolution to sticky situation eh?
Not so fast.
A few days later S_____ was out in her front yard playing and Krystal went over and asked if they were still friends. S____ said she didn’t know.
The following day Krystal’s best friend from down the street reported that S____ had told her she was no longer taking the bus to or from school and that she wasn’t allowed to play with Krystal anymore. Over this past weekend S____ and her brother and a few of his friends were playing and S____’s brother told Krystal she wasn’t allowed in their yard.
On the one hand, I would be thrilled if Krystal and S_____ never played together again. I didn’t like her when she was 5 years old and I don’t like her even more now that she is 10. On the other hand, she lives right across the street, and it’s always nice to at least be friendly with your neighbors. You never know when you might need them. I mean, the mom and I are both juggling single parenting with full time jobs – you’d think we’d have some empathy for each other.
Any ideas? Suggestions? Anything I should do here? Or let it play itself out however it might?
I’m really flabbergasted at the cowardly behavior of S____ in not taking the bus, and the mom’s willingness to cater to this, and I’m honestly not sure where it comes from. It doesn’t affect me either way, but now that I know about it I can’t help thinking about it. S____ outweighs Krystal by about 40 pounds, so Krystal is no physical threat to her. After what happened on the bus I can guarantee Krystal is in no hurry to repeat it, and realizes she was wrong to bring it up publicly (and which she apologized for already), so the emotional threat has been mitigated too. The “not being allowed to play” thing seems a bit out of left field, and very hurtful, although as I said, it’s fine by me. But I know it hurts Krystal and so therefore it bothers me.
Are parents blind to the failings of their kids? Am I in denial that Krystal might have pulled up S____’s shirt that day? Is S____’s mom in denial thinking her kid is always a victim? Are we both right? Are we both wrong?
Aside from going the psycho route and kicking asses, I don’t know what else you could have done to make the situation any better. Going forward, I’d encourage Krystal’s friendship with the other (saner) girl and all others, and perhaps you’ll be able to minimize any hurt from the S_____ situation when Krystal realizes how little she really needs or wants to play with her? Best of luck, and I’ll say a prayer.
It sounds to me like the mother is just tired of dealing with her bully of a child and it’s easier just to limit her access to Krystal rather than teach her manners. I think you handled it fine.