Friday, February 22, 2008


Last year, I used to hang out with one of the moms from Patrick's prek a lot. It started out because Patrick and her son really liked each other. We had dinner at her place with her fiance and her kids one time, even, but mostly it was us going over there after school so the kids could play and we could talk, maybe once a week.

Things started to go downhill when the favors started. First, it was that she had car trouble, so could I bring her son to prek for her, since I was going anyway, for a few days. Oh, and bring him home, too, could I? A few days stretched into a few weeks. Pretty soon, I knew that every time she called, it was because she wanted something. Other favors included making her daughter's birthday cake and managing the party because she had to go to a funeral out of town. Now, I knew no one else at this party, and it was full of family members, including her mother, who lives with her, but she asked and I pitched in. It pretty much spiraled from there. There never was an offer to reciprocate to anything I did for her.

Another problem I was starting to have was her treatment of the kids. She was a constant yeller, and was sarcastic with them, so they in turn were sarcastic with everyone else, including grownups on occasion. Her son was frequently getting into trouble at school, and Patrick would occasionally get brought along on the ride. I definitely noticed over time that after he had played with this boy, his behavior was much more aggressive and defiant. Josie flat-out refused to play with Patrick's friend pretty quickly.

By the time summer approached, I had had enough, and started scaling back on our hanging out time. The breaking point came when she told me that she'd had a hookup with a 20something she picked up at a bar the night before in the back seat of her SUV, which actually belonged to her fiance, and that her plan was to stay with the fiance long enough to siphon enough of his check (he was supporting all of them, even though they weren't his kids) into a separate account that she could kick him out and not be in financial trouble until she got a job. I liked her fiance, and he was a really nice guy, so that on to top of everything else was really too much. Add to that her asking me to watch her kids for her once a week, while she went to school on his dime, for the entire summer, and I'd had enough. I took advantage of the end of the school year to let the friendship lag, and she didn't call often once I'd turned down her request to watch her kids over the summer, anyway. Since she never left messages, it was easy to not call her back when she did call. By fall, she'd changed the prek class her daughter went to so that she'd go in the afternoon, when Patrick wasn't there, and that was that.

I've run into her once or twice since then, and I've tried to be like, oh, we just don't get to see each other anymore now that our kids aren't together. Well, since today was yet another snow day, so I took the kids to Blockbuster to find yet another thing to plug them into for at least a few hours (we got A Series of Unfortunate Events for and Chicken Little for Patrick), and guess who was there? Moan. I pulled up into the parking lot, and her mother and two kids were waiting in the car parked next to us. Groan! We got out and the kids waved, and her mom waved to us, but didn't go to lower the window. At least I was prepared when I went into the store. She was really, really frosty, more so than the previous times we've run into each other, but not so much that the kids would notice anything (who am I kidding, they can't even see through air half the time), and left without saying goodbye while we were in another aisle.

I was surprised that I was a lot more calm about everything than I would have been when I was younger. Maybe getting older is good for something after all! Still, ugh. I think there's no pretty way to end these things. It's not like I could have told her that I felt taken advantage of and was repulsed by her selfishness towards everyone around her and expected that things would have ended any better. Has anyone else had a similar situation with someone, and ended it in a more delicate way? I really have no idea how to do this kind of thing with grace, obviously!


Swistle said...

I don't think there's any good way to do it. People who want to milk other people for favors are not the most rational, empathetic people in the world, so they wouldn't understand what you were talking about even if you DID explain it to them. And when you dump them, what they're actually mad about is not losing the friendship, but losing the free services.

Liz :) said...

Ugh... I really hate things like this but I'm horrible at dealing with them. I would have went cold turkey and told her what I thought, I might have also snuck in a heads up to the fiance. I don't think that people deserve to be treated like that. She should have been thankful to you for helping as much as you did and for keeping her secrets. How terrible she is for putting you in a situation like that. Sorry....

Mairzy said...

You did the right thing. In fact, you held out much longer than I would have. Someone who uses her fiance for his money isn't likely to see others as more than human resources. It's ironic that YOU were the kind one and YOU were the friend, and then YOU feel like you did something wrong!

Astarte said...

Ooh, good point, Mairzy! I never thought of it that way. I do still feel guilty that I didn't say anything to the fiance, but who knows whether he would have believed me, anyway. Besides, they were having other problems, so if he was willing to put up with the other stuff, maybe he wouldn't have cared.