I am slowly being driven mad by one of my daughter's classmate's mothers. Really. Absolutely nuts. This woman has to be the most difficult, competitive person in the history of the world. And in a neighborhood like mine, that's saying a lot. Allow me to share a few heartwarming examples of what she's been doing to make me feel ready to do something like... pour sugar in her gas tank, or let the air out of her luxury SUV's tires - right before carpool.
1. Her daughter (let's call her "Rachel") came over to my house to play, along with another girl. I was in the next room, and pretty closely supervising the playdate. All three girls were very nicely playing a game, until Rachel, out of nowhere, decided she didn't want to play anymore. It was "boring". So she petulantly walked away from the game, leaving the girls unable to finish it. Needless to say they were annoyed, and told her so, in no uncertain terms - and definitely too harshly. Which was wrong, even if Rachel had acted in an unpleasant and unsportsmanlike manner herself. I gathered the girls together, and told them that if they couldn't all be nice to each other, I would have to take the guests home. Said Rachel: "I do want to go home. My mom was right when she told me that they weren't going to be nice to me!" Lovely. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2. My daughter attends an extracurricular program on Sundays, with a few girls from her class. One of these girls happens to be (you guessed it), Rachel. Rachel told my daughter that her mother had to "think carefully" about letting her go to the program, because she was afraid the other girls would "leave her out". Again, talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
3. My daughter was given a solo in a class production. Rachel told my daughter (in front of a large group of girls) that her mother said that the teacher only gave the solo to my daughter because my daughter is a "kiss-up". Did my daughter get the part because she behaved nicely? Perhaps - but that doesn't make her a kiss-up. That makes her, in the teacher's eyes, deserving.
4. This woman calls me every time the girls get a test back, to sniff out what my grade my daughter received (I usually refuse to put her out of her misery, and just let her keep sniffing). Why does this lunatic do this? I guess so she can keep the competitive spirit kicked into high gear.
5. I went in to Parent Teacher conferences, to discuss my daughter's report card. Her grades were (B'H) very nice, and so were her marks for behavior. So I went into the meeting expecting a good report. Which I got. What I didn't expect (though I should have - I know, I'm really a slow study), was for the teacher to tell me: "I'm very surprised that things have been OK between the girls in the class and Rachel." My response: "Huh? Why wouldn't they be?" Of course, all of my readers probably saw this coming from a mile away. Yes. Rachel's mother went in to the teacher at the start of the school year to tell her that she was worried that the girls in the class, particularly my daughter and a few others she named, were going to give her daughter a "hard time". The teacher made it clear that she had seen no sign of it. Yet, Rachel's mom felt it necessary to start off the year right for my daughter and others by putting them in the teacher's brain as "trouble". I only thank God that this prophecy wasn't self-fulfilling like some of the others.
The question is, what makes a person so inclined to poison her child (and her child's educators) against everyone around her? Is it some narcissistic need she has for her daughter to view her as the only person out there who really fully loves and cares about her? Is it her own wild insecurities about her own social status that she's betraying by projecting them onto her daughter? Is she just a grown-up version of the child who "doesn't play well with others"?
All of the above would be fine, if she would only be affecting her daughter with her crazy machinations. But she doesn't. Rachel doesn't live, play or learn in a vacuum. And when a mother creates these kind of negative feelings in her child toward her peers, it can only find its way into the child's interactions with her peers. For example, my daughter came home crying after incident #3 above happened, saying that she wanted to "give her solo to Rachel". Obviously, it took a while to get to the bottom of why, and I had to explain to her that the teacher gave her the solo for her own reasons - but certainly not because my daughter is a "kiss-up". I suspect that the honor and joy of being given the part was very much tempered fror my daughter by the response she got from her friends, and that's just not fair
. I also don't need my daughter's teacher starting the year off with expectations (ultimately not borne out) that my daughter will be a problem. I don't need my daughter getting the message that every grade she gets is a competition with the grade that Rachel receives.
The simplest solution would be to separate the girls, and not let my daughter associate with Rachel whenever it's in my control. But I feel queasy about doing that to rachel, about punishing a young girl for what are so clearly her mother's hang-ups. But if I continue to let Rachel badger my daughter, and poison my daughter's peers and teachers, regardless of whether it comes from Rachel or
her mother, aren't I risking my own daughter's budding self-confidence in favor of protecting her classmate's? As much of a responsibilty as I feel I have to poor Rachel, with the messed-up parents, don't I have a bigger responsibility to my own?
C'mon, people, I expect to see this all sorted out by you guys in the comment thread.