crazy mama drama

Something has been bugging me. We love Samuel’s new preschool. His teacher’s really warm, wonderful, and so experienced. The program is well organized. He only goes three days a week, but he’s learning so much, not just academically, but about Judaism and more importantly, good character.

His teacher has a wonderful way with discipline, but more importantly, she’s warm and a great model for compassion and thoughtfulness. Yesterday, I just knew I was hearing some of her influence when he said to me randomly, “Mommy, it doesn’t matter who you love, it just matters that you love them.” I mentioned it to his teacher this morning, and told her that obviously that’s a value we want to impart to him, but I wasn’t sure where he got the language. She told me they do talk a lot about keeping their hearts open.

I’ve been excited ever since we decided to move to Memphis that Samuel would spend more time around other Jewish kids, that he’d get to experience holidays and such with more friends, in a consistent and familiar environment. Our synagogue feels like home to him. But for the first time yesterday, I realized there are other benefits to sending him to a progressive Jewish preschool. Obviously, this kind of discussion might be problematic in a secular school, or a public school. Because while I don’t think he was thinking about homosexuality in particular, I do think that that kind of discussion about keeping your hearts open and celebrating love “no matter what” will translate to making it easier for Samuel to reject homophobia and other kinds of hate. He’s already asked, and we’ve already talked about how in some families there’s just a mom or just a dad, or two moms or two dads. I just really like that his preschool models and shares our values. Anyway, that’s not actually where I meant to go when I opened this post, which is meant mostly to complain and ask for advice about a problem I’m having.

So, now, to the drama: Samuel has a favorite friend at preschool. We’ll call him Bobby. Samuel talks about Bobby all the time. He wants Bobby to come over, and when we’re at birthday parties or see Bobby’s family, he asks me to go talk to Bobby’s mommy and get her email address. I have tried. I haven’t just walked over and said, “Hey, can I have your email address,” but I have tried to introduce myself. She manages to always be talking to someone else, or to somehow not see that I’m trying to approach her. I get the feeling she really doesn’t want to talk to me.

That sounds crazy, right? But it’s real. Last week we were both at a meeting of preschool parents about fundraising and parties and such. I sat next to her, and she turned away, talking pointedly to a woman on her other side. Mean girls as this sounds, she’s the only mother to do this to me! I’m having perfectly normal encounters with other parents so if she weren’t Bobby’s mother, I’d think rude words about her and be on with it.

In the beginning, I thought maybe she was just timid, uncomfortable around new people. I know plenty of people who come across as snobby, but are really just shy. So I kept trying. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was at an event with one of the teachers in the school. Bobby’s mother came up in conversation, and the teacher called her “a piece of work.” I also teach religious school with another one of the teachers. That teacher, an incredibly nice woman, asked me last weekend how Samuel likes school, I told her he loves it. She mentioned Samuel and Bobby, and I told her that it seems like for some reason Bobby’s mom doesn’t want to talk to me. She rolled her eyes, and said Bobby’s mom is something of a wannabe social climber, who only talks with people whom she thinks can help her socially. She told me actually, that there’s been discussion among the teachers about Bobby’s mom alienating parents not in her social circle, and because she’s a room mother, making it more difficult for teachers with her kids to get much participation in their class.

I feel like we’re living in the late-19th century. We may not have major connections in town, but chatting with me is not going to hurt her standing in the community. It’s completely weird. Plus, she knows nothing about us other than that we’re new in town. Perhaps it’s because while she looks like she’s going out for an evening even at 8:45 am, I am often dropping Samuel off wearing yoga pants and a bare minimum of makeup, and often have baby slobber on my shoulder.

I’d pretty much decided to forget about Bobby and his mother. Samuel’s perfectly fine at making friends, and there are other parents in the class with whom I can organize play dates. I really don’t care about being her friend.

Then, this morning, I dropped Samuel off, and Bobby ran right over to him, and gave him a big hug, saying, “I am so happy you’re here Samuel!” Samuel’s teacher told me that every morning Bobby arrives and asks if Samuel’s going to be there that day (Samuel only goes MWF). She told me they’re inseparable in class, that it’s a really sweet friendship. I love that Samuel has that here–he misses his Mississippi friends so much that his making new friends has been a major concern for me. Bobby then came up to me and asked if he and Samuel could play together at home some day. I said, “Well, you’ll have to ask your mommy about that.”

Then I left. Bobby’s mom was talking to a mom with whom I’m friendly in the parking lot. This mom is married to someone important in the community, but doesn’t strike me as someone who shares Bobby’s mom’s attitude. The mom waved to me, and started to coo over Jonah’s cute new pumpkin outfit. I decide to try again with Bobby’s mom, to be nice. So I say, “You know, Bobby and Samuel are becoming such good friends. Samuel talks about him all the time.” She says, “Hmm, Bobby’s never mentioned him,” and angles herself away from me. Seriously. Insane as that sounds, it happened.

Having written this out, I realize I don’t need the advice for which I started out asking. Obviously, I am not going to chase her down and beg for a play date. I am not going to try to break through her snobbery or prove myself worthy of her attention. I feel badly for her son. I hope he takes their teacher’s lesson to keep his heart open and doesn’t become as pretentious as his mother.

But, what should I tell Samuel when he keeps asking for a play date with Bobby? I can’t keep saying I don’t know how to contact his mom–I see her all the time. Yet, somehow, “No we can’t hang out with Bobby, because his mom is a big snotty meanie” doesn’t sound quite right either.

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5 responses to “crazy mama drama

  1. Ha ha ha ha! So glad you’re back. I can imagine this woman. And I’m guessing she does not have her heart open to love. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing. There are some kids that your child is friends with only at school and that’s just the way it is. It was for me, anyway . . .

  2. Once again, your experience is mirroring something I’m going through. The one child Charlie has become close with has a mom who (after many tries on my part) just cannot be a normal acquaintance. I’m not sure what to do. I’m warm to her son when I see him at school and others shared activities, and I plan to invite him to Charlie’s birthday party. If you solve this problem give me advice.

  3. I am in such a similar position. My daughter is infatuated with another little girl in her class, and that little girl runs over to greet her every morning. Plus, the other little girls asks me to wait around every afternoon with her until her mom gets there. So I tried to set up a playdate … 5 times. We are already in the second month of school, we live about 100 yards away from this little girl, and the mother and I are ostensibly friends (probably out of decorum she actually invited -me- to her house for a mutual friend’s birthday celebration) and yet … apparently she’s just way too busy for an afternoon playdate. I even offered to take her daughter home with us and then bring her back to her own apartment in an hour or two if the mom was too busy to get together, but no.

    And then … I heard a comment through the grapevine that she was disappointed in her daughter’s class assignment because “there are so few white kids” in that class. And now I’m left wondering if just maybe it has to do with the fact that my daughter doesn’t check caucausian (or Christian) on her census … aren’t preschool friendships great?

  4. People are BIZARRE. My mom tells me stories from her tutoring sessions with 6 year olds whom she is paid to tutor to get them ahead in the world, but this kid wouldn’t focus at all, because he is SIX and then my mother discovered that he was ECSTATIC when my Mom read story books to him. Incredible. His non-working mother hires a stranger to tutor him to give him an academic edge, but his parents have never READ BOOKS to him. (Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell this story. And actually, I don’t think telling him the truth is just fair. “Samuel, I am SO GLAD you’re friends with Bobby, but I think you will have to be good school friends. Bobby’s mommy doesn’t want to hang out with us outside of school.”

  5. WOWIE. I went to PK in the waspy/climby part of town (it’s a good PK) and NO ONE acted like that. I found out pretty late after the fact that people’s parents were judges or whatever. Makes me think that perhaps she wishes in large part that she were actually somewhere else? But I digress. I’m a big believer in kids (eventually) mirroring parents behaviors, so sadly I’m here to tell you that Bobby will eventually start gravitating towards kids with parents that his parents (mom) likes. And it will not be a kind gravity pull, I suspect. I also believe that I don’t want my kids having play dates in a house where a parent behaves that way, because lord knows what they’ll say/do in front of my kid (this goes for myriad behaviors that I can imagine my kids not wanting to be around). I think I’d continue to invite Bobby to group activities (e.g., birthdays) and listen/support everything your son has to say to about his friend, but it’s never too early to start developing more than one good friendship and not being exclusionary.

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