Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fuzzy Lines

I will get to my Sunday Status NaNo Stuff last paragraph, but mostly this is a parenting blog, so feel free to skip ahead if my insecurities aren't a cheerful way to end your weekend.

How many of us had parents we felt were TOTALLY CLUELESS? A fair few, yes? If you didn't, chances are you had a friend or two who had them... Oh, not all were clueless—some were permissive and just let you (and them) get away with stuff. My mom had a weird radar and if she figured anything out was far LESS permissive. Oh, she could be generous in letting me bring a friend of vacation or something—but that was where we could (sort of) be watched. My friend Tam and I had a couple adventures out of town that might have gotten us into a little trouble (in fact one did—her phone number ended up in a stolen car that ended up in a river). But mostly I had to have legitimate arrangements elsewhere to get in much trouble (at least until I got my job that kept me home weekends when my parents went to their lake cabin.)

My point? I think I might be clueless.

A Pushover

I don't lie. I've been known to omit facts, but if somebody flat-out asks me something, I am a really bad liar—red-faced, shaky voiced—dead giveaways. My daughter on the other hand... has a convenient memory. I honestly think she remembers things the way she would have LIKED them to have happened. She's a revisionist, and it can be VERY hard to sort out what is what—especially quite a while later. But STILL, when she swears to me... I believe her.

A few years ago she had some trouble with some friends. I won't get into details, as it's her story, but they did 'an intervention of sorts' and she swears she reformed (and I believe her). Recently however, she was accused of doing some of the same... we've gone over all the evidence, and it looks to me like she is just an easy scapegoat. I went round and round with another mom who swears I'm being snowed, but it's something I can check a lot of the facts on, and they support my daughter. In other words, I believe me kid.

(Not my kid, just a google image to illustrate)---->

Well now some girls have been harassing her about this thing she supposedly did. It looks like bullying to me (cyber and text), and I keep wanting to take the evidence to the high school and have these girls get in trouble. My daughter just wants it to go away. She's blocked them on Facebook and we called to have their phone numbers blocked so they can't call her. She goes to a DIFFERENT high school, though she is at theirs a fair amount because that is where she does sports and her boyfriend also goes there (and it is where she catches the bus to her high school).

How do I DO this? Do I let her fight the fight when what I WANT to do is squash these girls like bugs? I know letting it 'blow over' will actually have less repercussions in the long run—but there is a part of me that really likes social justice... however, I think at least a COUPLE of these girls really BELIEVE my daughter did what she is being accused of. Still, the ganging up is lousy. And there are a couple girls involved who have NO BUSINESS. In fact one really caused a lot of it because she ACTED, when the girl who felt wronged would normally have TALKED and it probably would have been sorted quickly.

And a Related Issue

When she started getting these calls, she called and asked for me, but I was in the tub. Her dad wouldn't bring me the phone until she explained... then he asked me for more...

The trouble? He overreacts. In fact overreacting is almost always his first response. He usually eventually calms down, but my daughter often asks me not to tell him stuff. I told him... having been asked, but he was mad I HADN'T talked to him earlier.

Okay, how the hell do I draw THAT line? If I tell him, she will no longer tell ME and then nobody knows. But if I don't tell him he's mad he's out of the loop. He doesn't seem to grasp the importance of there being a parent that will take the secrets and keep them... help, but quietly... or that's how I've seen it... *sigh * It causes some trouble now and again... that I believe in keeping quiet most of the time and he thinks I should always share.

Okay, so enough of my parenting insecurities... Yesterday was a good day, Badger Bashing aside. Hit my 40K mark for NaNoWriMo, so I am down to needing an average of 974 words a day to finish—a relatively normal pace for me. When I am writing, as opposed to editing or querying, I typically write 750-1500 words a day. I DO however, want to finish the book, and 2000 words a day is possibly not quite enough, BUT if I finish with a few holes (leaving notes for the rewrite) I should manage...


Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

There was a chat on Jezebel about this same issue a few days ago (i've included a link. Make sure you read all the comments because that's where all the first person stories and solutions are listed)

Does your daughter not want you to go to the school about the bullying? Because i think you should. We're responsible to keep our children safe, even if it's from other children.
There were a couple of commenters in Jezebel who said even though it was the wrong thing to do, the only think which made their bullying stop was their dad or mom freaking out on the bullies.

Jezebel Bullying

Hart Johnson said...

Sarah-thanks for the link! I will check it out. My daughter has begged me NOT to go to the school (because of it getting bigger), however, my husband, now that he's in the know, has said next time he sees any of those girls, they are going to get an earful (and he can be DARNED intimidating)-in her 5th grade class there was bullying (she wasn't on either side, just subject to a really disfunctional classroom) and he went in and sat a couple afternoons and those bullies straightened out right away.

Jan Morrison said...

Tartlette - I'm with the above. As a psychotherapist who sees lots of teens I know that they often want things that are at PERFECT odds with each other - and one of these is to not have a parent interfere while whole-heartedly wanting a parent to interfere. YES - these are opposite things but I often have kids tell me that their parents let them down and didn't protect them while the parents are spluttering 'but you said!!!!' Now, I would tell my daughter that I'm going to do this and I would tell her that I told her Dad because I was worried and don't intend to think of it as a tiny passing problem. And that you and your husband SHARE parenting and it isn't fair of your daughter to expect you to keep things quiet. You could ask her what she imagines it might be like for you if something bad happened and your husband found out that you'd been holding back on information. Awful is what it would be. You can tell your husband with the leverage you have (she TELLS you stuff) that his part- if you are going to say this - is to keep his freaking out to you and be cool with her.
These are my thoughts and every situation is different but hiding stuff always causes problems down the road.

Kassy with a K said...

My mother always wants to know who she can call or email the second anything is wrong. The problem with bullying when it's at school is that the people who should stop it (teachers, coaches) usually don't. Even once they are made aware of it. I don't know what the right thing is, but either way as long as she knows you support her, and that whatever they are saying isn't true.. I think that's most important. On your related note, I always asked for my mom when I called.. still do.. but I know she pretty much tells my dad anything I tell her. Typically, he doesn't go out of his way to let me know he knows... but it's sort of understood that what I tell her (if she thinks it's important) she will tell him.

Good luck... bullying just plain sucks.

Hart Johnson said...

Jan-I know you're right, and very wise--hubster just is SO BAD about the kind of reinforcement he gives... when I TALK he freaks long, when I am silent and it comes out later, he freaks briefly--the latter just seems so much less painful! What I need, is to figure out how to train him. And I really DO fear my daughter shutting me out because she fears at dad's reaction. Oh well... we will sort it...

Kas-Natalie's swim coach actually has heard some of this--she is supportive, though hasn't been asked to intervene--but she has assured her she BELIEVES her about the behavior stuff, so that is helpful. And her forum leader is in the loop and has said he'd talk to the other high school too... the problem is evidence from that side, too--the CALLS were all done through 'restricted number', so we can't prove who sent them. *hugs*

The Words Crafter said...

I have to agree with the above comments. It makes things awkward at school, sure, but it's also nice to have it over and done with. Either way, there's going to be some stormy times. I would make them positive ones that will fade away quickly. Not stepping in may only prolong the whole thing.

I can honestly tell you that I wish my mom had stepped in for me sometimes. However, we didn't have that relationship.

I love that you're ready to squash those bugs and I think that Kassy offers some solid advice about how to handle everyone else.

I'll be keeping you all in my prayers and thoughts and you keep us posted, okay?

Great on the nano, btw!

Cinette said...

I can feel for you in this situation. I have four teen daughters, so there is always drama around here. I think it's harder to protect them from bullying in this techno age; internet makes it easier for people to say and do things they wouldn't if they were face to face, and rumours can run rampant in milliseconds. I'm fortunate that my daughters aren't afraid to face their attackers face to face, and that has 'scared' them enough to back off. I haven't had to step in myself, yet. But not all girls are that confident or aggressive.
No one ever said parenting was an easy job. It's not black and white, and there never seems to be any easy answers. My heart goes out to you.

sue said...

Agree with the above commenters but with the added perspective that if not stopped, those young bullies can go on to become workplace bullies, particularly if they enjoy the power. They need to know the ramifications of their actions from a legal perspective even if they don't 'get' the personal one.

We (barely) survived similar issues at school, but thankfully pre cyber times. My kids are still angry that the school didn't stop the bullying. A lot of teachers don't know how to handle it effectively, but It's even worse when a teacher condones it.

There's a group here called BullyBusters that go in to schools and do workshops which is apparently effective.

Keep the lines of communication open, it's important she can offload to you (and you to hubby even if the abbreviated version) because they still need your support when they're young adults.

Old Kitty said...

Oh Naked Tart!! I am so sorry to read about the bullying your daughter is being subjected to. How awful for all of you. I think you and your hubby should show a united front and be there for your daughter and storm that school where those girls are and demand they put a stop to this! Booo to those nasty girls!!! Good luck to you both (you and hubby) in tackling this - there are great advice here before my comment - I hope you all find one that works for all of you and stops this intimidation!

Take care

Donna Hole said...

I'm a lenient parent, but have been known to draw a few lines. When it comes to trouble at school, however, the older the child got - especially when it comes to peer pressure - the more I let them lead the way. I always let them know I'll step in any time.

I think supporting your childrens decisions - as long as nobody is getting hurt (aside from the mental anguish of putting up with it) I think they need the experience of working out their own issues.

That said; as a parent Hart, you know how far is too far for your daughter to handle. If you truly feel its the right thing to step in, then you have to do what you feel is right.

No easy answers I think. We just go with our intuition, and live with the results.


Adina West said...

I don't have much advice for you unfortunately, and my little one is so young that it'll be many years before I'm in your position...but I will say that the fact your daughter has a mother she can talk to who takes her side and cares about her is a wonderful thing. Not every child can say that.

Hart Johnson said...

Thank you so much everyone, for the support yesterday (and today)--it means much that I've got these sympathetic ears and source of wise advice. We are still playing it by ear--I think will see if the phone blocking stops it--but if it doesn't, I have a plan...

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey girl, I can't add anything that hasn't been said already by your commenters, I just wanted to give you a cyber-hug, and say I totally feel your angst. And I so understand about the husbandly reactions, mine is very similar.



Regina said...

I feel for you in this situation. Kids can be so mean. It is hard enough to get them to confide in you and when you break the trust, they shut you out.

My son sort of did the same thing. He has some trouble at school and a few other boys started to bully him and he wouldn't let me go and take care of it. So I had to remind myself to make sure to talk to him and make sure that he was safe and also remember that Karma is a real biznatch.

Those boys will get what they deserve, maybe not from me but I believe in Karma.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm sorry you're having to go through all this, Hart!

I do think it's a good idea for at least one parent to function in a kind of confidant role...especially the parent who doesn't quickly overreact and tries to let the problem work itself out.

Girls can REALLY be bullies and I'm sorry your daughter is going through all this. The high-tech aspect of bullying makes it even worse.