I’m a mom, not a friend

30 04 2010

I struggle to recall what it was like to be a kid and how friendships might have been more important than life itself back then.  I don’t remember feeling that way though.  I had good friends and kinda friends and best friends and while we had our disagreements here and there, they were a relatively positive bunch.  In hindsight, I was probably the worst of the group and even then I wasn’t that bad.  I smoked and cussed, that was about my only shortcoming that I can recall.  I do know I was always careful about the extremes of my bickerings, primarily because after having it out with one good friend over some menial matter, within a year she was dead after her ex-boyfriend had broken into her home and shot her.  We were high school age.  Pity.  Amy was a good girl.  Anyhow, my point is that I don’t remember friendships being pivotal the way they seem to be with my children.  An argument with a friend can turn their mood so sour, impact their grades and their outlook and make them all in all miserable to be near.  It’s the grade aspect that concerns me most.  Not that their attitude is of no consequence, but that is fickle.  Their grades however, are not.

This brings me to my current dilemma.

My youngest was in the first grade when we moved to Florida.  She made friends with various children in her class and her after school activities, one of which will be a young girl I will call Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was in her first grade class and had experienced a rather rough childhood, even by that young age of 6-7.  Her mother had committed suicide and she was being raised by other members of her family as her father was not in the picture.  My daughter was drawn to her and made quick friends with this girl, eventually being invited to sleep overs and church events.  And for the first few years of their friendship, Elizabeth was a good girl.  Good grades, good family, well mannered – all in all pleasant to be around and her positive attitude reflected well on my daughter’s attitude.

Then third grade happened.  I don’t know what happened because they didn’t have the same teacher.  They kept in touch, but not as close as before.  They’d catch up after school or on the phone on weekends.  But the contact wasn’t always consistent.

We attended the fourth grade open house a week before school started and I noticed that Elizabeth was once more in my daughter’s class, as were about four other Chatty Cathy’s that they were each friends with and I remember remarking that the teacher had her work cut out for her.  And boy did she.  Somewhere over the course of that third grade year Elizabeth had gained an attitude problem.  She had put on a little weight, developed a little here and there and grown about six inches, but the attitude she had also developed was the most noticeable.  My daughter would come home and tell me how Elizabeth had back talked the teacher or slapped around other children and I started becoming wary of her influence.  I spoke to her family member that was raising her, out of motherly concern primarily – did this person even know what Elizabeth was doing in class.  I was assured it was all blown out of proportion but that she was handling it.  However, as the year progressed, so did the stories my daughter would come home to share with me and I finally told her she needed to make a wise decision and limit her contact with Elizabeth.  We eventually went so far as to ask the teacher to assist in limiting this contact – which she did.  Including making certain that for her fifth grade recommendations she would recommend that my daughter not share a class with Elizabeth.  We noticed a dramatic improvement in our daughter’s grades and as she moved into fifth grade without Elizabeth in her class, she achieved honour roll for the first time.  She was motivated and passionate about her learning.

I stop myself here because I want to be clear that I don’t place my daughter’s grades at Elizabeth’s feet.  My daughter is just as much to blame for allowing herself to be distracted by this child.

But she was finally completing classwork and tests and scoring well on them.  Then during the 2nd quarter of the school year Elizabeth’s guardian called me.  Elizabeth was miserable without her friend, the two were growing apart and she had spoken with the principal to have Elizabeth transferred into my daughter’s class.  I tried to be polite, I really think I succeeded.  I spoke proudly of how well my baby girl was doing in school and how I was concerned of the distractions that Elizabeth might provide.  She missed my point and told me how wonderful she agreed it would be to have them together again.

So I had a heart to heart with my daughter, stay focused, stay on track.  I spoke with the teacher, keep them apart please, help me keep my daughter focused.  And it was a struggle.  I could tell when she had taken free time to chat with Elizabeth because she would mouth off and then immediately clasp her hand over her mouth in surprise that she had behaved that way.  I had to have an in depth discussion about anatomy and the vulgar terms assigned to anatomy and my daughter spoke her first cuss word.  It was a daily struggle to re-direct her attitude and make her see what was going on.  And each time she would tell me that she didn’t want to hurt Elizabeth’s feelings and be rude to her, so instead she would talk to her.

I was never so elated as when I learned Elizabeth was out of the zone for the middle school I had chosen for my daughter.  It meant not only would she not be going there, but also that she couldn’t if she wanted to.

My daughter blossomed, earning A’s and B’s, missing A honour roll by 1 point for the first quarter and 3 points the second.  She had a full course load of advanced classes and she was so pleasant to watch her take charge of her homework as she entered the house, reading in her spare time and being a great kid.

Then it happened.  Again.

The guardian had tried everything to help Elizabeth fit in at her new school.  She had put her on weight loss medications, dyed her hair blonde, bought her all of the must have’s a teenage girl needs and still nothing.  The kids were cruel to her.  So this guardian went to the department of education and shared with them the pain and suffering of Elizabeth’s life and somehow, someway, managed to have them change her school, mid-year, out of zone, to attend my daughter’s school.  They share three classes together.  And for four months now, my daughter’s grades in those classes have plummeted.  I don’t mean fell to a B or C or D – she went from 80s and 90s to 20s and 30s.  Yet maintains As and Bs in all of her other courses.

This past week though was the breaking point.

My daughter was given a cell phone for her 13th birthday.  It was something I had hemmed and hawwed about for a while now, but I had told her that when she and her sister were at separate schools she could then have a phone and seeing as in a few months they will be, I relented.  My rule with the phone for both of my daughters is simple, it doesn’t come out of your purse at school.  Period.  No one needs to see the phone, if they haven’t seen a phone before they have bigger issues than we can deal with.  It isn’t a toy.  It’s a tracking device for me and an emergency device for them.  Nothing more.  You have the benefit of being able to make calls, and text, and take pictures from it only because I afford that benefit to you.  That means I can remove that benefit at any time.

Elizabeth wanted to see her phone.  And my daughter told her no.  Elizabeth promptly explained to my daughter how her mother isn’t her boss, but rather just a bitch.  I am told there were a few other words mixed in.  The texts would come in to her phone during the school day when they were in separate classes, late hours of the night and couple that with the negative remarks all around and suggestions of how my daughter should act towards me, her mother – I stepped in.

I blocked Elizabeth’s number from the phone.  I have removed her from my daughter’s facebook account list as well as deleted all remarks she has made.  And I told my daughter to cease all communications with Elizabeth.  Now I am told by Elizabeth’s guardian that I have no right to do this.  I shouldn’t even have the passwords to my daughter’s email and facebook, much less use that information to edit her accounts.  How dare I impede her privacy to block numbers from her phone?

I want to reply, but I can’t.  The things I want to say, that need said, don’t apply to this woman.  She isn’t a mother of a teenage daughter.  She is the guardian of a teenager.  She hasn’t been a mother of a teenager in over forty years.  She’s allowing this child to dictate to her how things will be.  And while that may fly in their house, it won’t in mine.  I have said it before, I say it again – I didn’t have children because I needed friends and I do not care if my children consider me a friend, that isn’t my role.

Thus since I can’t say it to her, I spill it out here.  I feel better already.

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5 responses

30 04 2010
Not So High and Mighty

Your a prude and you think being a control freak will keep those kids in line but you need to be there friend if you ever expect them to talk to you. I can’t wait to hear you sobbing in five years.

1 05 2010
protogere

Not so – I disagree with your view of the role of a parent. We chose to bring a child into this world, not because we, as grown adults, needed a playmate, but because we want to contribute to the world. It is our single opportunity in life to create something that is beautiful and full of potential and the measure of our parenting skills is what that child becomes.
If your children do not respect you enough as a parent to come to you with their fears and troubles, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you live in a world where that information is provided only when your child views you as an equal, a friend. My children respect me enough to come to me to discuss the conversations about sex that their friends are having; they come to me to inquire advice on how to respond to situations and because they know that they can do so – they continue to do so.
I say with confidence that I won’t be a grandmother in five years, which is more than quite a few mothers I know can boast.

6 05 2010
Michelle

I applaud you for this and shame on that parent or whatever she is for not being more involved in her kids life!

20 05 2010
protogere

Thank you Michelle

1 06 2010
KS

Thank-you for sticking up for me !!! :D Love your Baby-girl

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