My Child’s Not the Problem

My daughter and her best friend attend the same school. The best friend is actually new to the school so I can understand her relying on my daughter for support and for help integrating into the school yard. My daughter started at her new school mid-term, so she knows what it’s like to be dropped into a new environment among already established friendships.

I’m lucky my daughter has such a friendly personality. She has always been inclusive and full of empathy when it comes to others. When she started junior kindergarten she was the one including new kids into the playground games, even though she was new herself.

So I didn’t have any concern about her helping her best friend feel welcome in the new environment. Actually I was a little concerned she would end up abandoning her new school friends to ensure her best friend wasn’t left on her own. We had many conversations about playing with friends in moderation or playing games to include everyone, not forgetting her other friends.

It’s been a few months and things have been going pretty well. We did have an incident with one of her new school chums, but it was all a misunderstanding. Everything was fixed with a five-minute conversation. As expected, friends have their differences. They have good days and bad days. Even as adults we go through that with our friends and family, that’s to be expected in a growing, changing relationship.

Then one nigh I picked up a message from my daughter’s best friend’s mom, who happens to be a good friend of mine. The mom was worried about how the two girls were playing or rather not playing. The next day I had a conversation with the mom, to hear her side of the story. It seems the best friend feels my daughter isn’t playing with her anymore and is actually being mean ‘if you don’t do it my way you can’t be my friend.’

Okay, I was a little surprised by the comment. I think the problem is my daughter has started getting back into playing with the rest of her friends and the best friend isn’t very keen on sharing. And the best friend is use to getting what she wants in other situations. But I agreed to talk to my daughter. I know with her siblings my daughter can be a little commanding when it comes to play and how things are supposed to happen.

So we had the conversation. My daughter confirmed the problem was more about the best friend having to share her time with my daughter and not liking it. I thought everything was fine. Until the next day, after school, my daughter’s teacher wanted to speak with me.

It turns out the best friend’s mom, my friend, reported to the teacher that my daughter was bullying her daughter in the playground. You read that right BULLYING! We’re talking about my happy, inclusive, trying to keep everyone happy, seven-year-old daughter. Now sure I may be a bit biased and yes seven-year-old girls aren’t immune from becoming bullies, but this was insane. My daughter wasn’t being abusive, either physically, verbally or emotionally. She wasn’t intimidating or turning kids against her so-called best friend. She wasn’t behaving like the TTC, now that’s a bully. The whole accusation was ridiculous.

I don’t know what bothers me more, the fact that my daughter was accused of being a bully or that my friend, someone who’s known my daughter since she’s started school, could make the accusation. I expected the best friend to make a fuss about my daughter’s playing with other kids. We’ve grown use to this girls blatant manipulation of the adults around her. The fact that my friend would be so blind to think her daughter didn’t plan any role in what’s been going on just floors me.

I know I have to address this with my friend but I’m so bothered by it. When I dropped my son off at lunch I noticed my friend and her daughter arriving at school. I found myself hurrying out of the playground for fear of what I would say. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty quiet and easy-going. It takes a lot to get me riled. But this whole thing has left me with an awful pit in my stomach. And my feelings aside, how do you think my daughter feels knowing her best friend and her best friend’s mom think she is so awful to resort to calling her a school yard bully!

I know I’m going to have to confront the mom, my friend, about this. I’m not looking forward to it at all. And even when it happens, even if we end up shaking hands and trying to put this black moment behind us, I can’t help but think our friendship will be changed forever. And I feel awful.

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20 responses to this post.

  1. I think the biggest problem is your friend. What blatant disrespect to go to the teacher instead of you. That is NOT what friends do. Friends talk to each other. Even about the hard stuff.

    Ugh – sorry for you. Big hugs!

    Reply

  2. Wow. I’ve wondered for a while if we aren’t too keen on using the bully label and trying to micro-manage normal childhood relations.
    But wow. If it was me (and I don’t know the whole story, but still) there is no way I could continue a friendship with anyone who would report this to the teacher rather than try to resolve it on our own. That is a serious accusation and an insult to your ability to properly assess the situation as a parent.
    Out of curiosity, what was the teacher’s reaction? Was she surprised?

    Reply

    • The teacher mentioned it to me out of courtesy. She was completely surprised by this comment. This seemed to come out of the blue as she’s never witnessed anything but helpful behaviour from my daughter. Yes, the label is very strong so I’m glad it’s not being taken further into the school.

      Reply

  3. Yikes. That was out of line, for sure. She should not have gone to the teacher with that far-out accusation. She should have talked to you in person. Yeah, what Michelle said – that is not what friends do at all! Good luck..

    Reply

  4. I dunno. Sounds an awful lot like mom is fairly manipulative herself. The apple, I hear….

    Address what you need to, don’t get involved in drama that you don’t need to, ad remember that people who do this type of stuff are living sad, manipulative, empty lives.

    If anything be thankful that you’ve seen her true colours; now you know just how emtionally invested you should be.

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    • That’s sort of the conversation I had with my daughter. Real friends don’t say this stuff about you as a way to get you to be their friend, scare you into friendship.

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  5. Yup. What Michelle said. She took the ‘easy’ way out and went above your head. That’s not what friends do. Sorry your relationship with your friend is likely changed forever…

    Don’t you wish we could instant-replay any event?! It would be great to be able to sit with your friend and watch exactly what happened.

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  6. What a bitch. She could have said something to you, and the four of you could have worked it out! She’s not much of a friend, at all. Just do your best to help your daughter through this, while you turn to the support of your REAL friends. This mother is not one of them, don’t waste your time.

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  7. I shouldn’t have used that word, I’m sorry. But I’m mad!

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    • I love your honesty. I was angry too, still am, and that’s why I didn’t say anything right away for fear of making the problem worse. But yes I’ll have to say something to the parent.

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  8. Ugh. I hating hearing stuff like this. So easy for people to point the finger. Sorry to hear.

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  9. This is awful. feel so badly for you. Your “friend” is not and never was one so there is nothing to salvage here. In addition to your hurt and betrayal (and your daughter’s), the other important thing is to repair the damage at school. I would be concerned about what the school is going to do with the complaint. I would hate for that word to be anywhere near my daughter’s record. If the complaint is being documented, I will try my best to get it removed and/or make sure that my side of the story is heard. Perhaps the teacher can mediate a conversation between you and the other mom? Then someone else can see how irrational and ludicrous the accusation is given the source.

    Reply

    • Thankfully the teacher doesn’t feel this to be true. The comment came as a complete shock to her too. I would completely flip if it had gone further. But my daughter’s record vs. the other child’s speaks volumes. But you’re right, throwing the word bully around the school is a dangerous thing to do nowadays.

      Reply

  10. Posted by Lesli on February 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Jeesh, with friends like that…I’m sorry that your friend didn’t talk with you further if she was so bothered. It’s a shame she would put your friendship on the line. How frustrating for you!

    Reply

  11. Bully is a very strong label, especially these days. Your 7 year old sounds a lot like my 7 year old and I know that she would be floored to find out anyone, let alone one of her best friends, would think of her that way.

    I would also feel that my relationship with the other mom would be changed indefinitely. It’s very difficult to move past things like that, even if it gets discussed. I wish you the best dealing with it all and hope that your daughter isn’t too upset by the whole thing, poor monkey.

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  12. Sounds like you’re handling the situation perfectly. Also, glad to hear you have the support (or at least it seems like you do) of the teacher. Good luck. Let us know how it all works out.

    Reply

  13. This is upsetting. It’s a problem too, that the word bully has become so spectrum as to include anything from not playing with someone to physically hurting them. Your friend had to have known that the teacher was going to tell you, right? It seems like her actions speak for themselves really. I don’t know if you need to seek out answers. It’s really not your responsibility to confront her. Take the higher road, and don’t do anything but exchange the odd greeting until she finds the balls to bring it up herself. She’ll get the message. Advising your daughter to do the same on the playground is a good idea too. The gentle art of remaining neutral is the only way words don’t get misconstrued. People who are looking for drama, will find it in whatever you say. Even in the grown up world, as we all know.

    Reply

  14. […] like we remind our kids, friends will come and go but family is forever. And I love when my kids prove me right by supporting one another, sticking […]

    Reply

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