Thursday, January 7, 2010


Have you ever had those friends who were really enemies in disguise? Those ones who, surely, were your besties, but really they were just junior-assholes-in-training? I've had a few of those over the years, most notably my high school best friend, Mary, who, as it played out, was trashing me to anyone and everyone she could, including her family, calling me everything from slut on down, etc. Not to mention, she DATED the guy who raped me, and FLAUNTED it. In fact, she tried to date every boyfriend I had, including ones that were still mine, by lying to them and just plain making stuff up. I realize now, looking back on it, that she is *exactly* like my mother, and I was probably friends with her because her treatment was familiar, and also because since she was nice to my face, I was getting affection by proxy from someone I had wanted it from for years. We haven't spoken for years; I stopped talking to her after she called me on 9/11 to ask, in a tell-me-more voice, what I'd seen, rather than if I, and everyone I knew, was OK (this was when we were living and working a few miles outside DC). I didn't tell her it was over, I just never called again.

At the moment, Josie has a friend who is getting on my NERVES. She's nothing like the girl I dealt with, but she's being a little bitch in her own way, and it's making me want to smack her. Josie is a great reader, and takes after me in that we both can easily read a book a day. Josie and this friend, along with another friend and a few other kids, were supposed to be in a Battle of the Books competition, which is run by libraries across the country and is kind of like being a mathlete, only with the questions surrounding a list of 20 children's classics. Between the time Josie got the list in November and now, she's read all the books but one. The team had to be disbanded because the woman in charge of it had a sudden schedule change, and they were short a few kids for the team. She's disappointed, but it's fine.

This friend, who is actually a girl that I like a lot, and whose mother I also know and like, has taken to DAILY making comments like, 'well, it's probably because no one was reading the books but Catherine and I, because Josie isn't really reading them, she's just skimming them.' EVERY DAY. Josie has explained to her over and over that no, she has actually read them, and cut it out, but nothing works. I told her that Girl is probably just jealous, because she's very competitive like Josie is, and she is having a hard time believing that anyone could be so much better at something than she is. Either that, or she's having fun getting Josie's goat. Regardless, Josie's starting to get really pissed, and so am I. This morning, I walked into the school with Girl and her mother, and we were talking about how it was too bad the team had to break up, and I mentioned that Josie had read all the books because she reads a book every day like I do, which is one of the only things I do really well. I said it in full hearing of Girl, hoping it would shut her up, but it didn't - same comments at lunch today.

I am tired of hearing this crap coming home, and am at the point where I want to Make it Stop. Josie worked really hard to get all of those books read, and she did a great job. I don't care why Girl feels the need to get on her all the time, but it has to end. I don't want Josie feeling like she has to put up with garbage like that from friends, and I don't want Girl, who is otherwise quite nice, to get the idea that her behavior is OK.

SO, what do I do? I see Girl all the time. Should I innocently start a conversation about reading myself and talk about how I finished Book on the Table in a day, and get the ball rolling there, not really mentioning her behavior specifically, but just generally talking about strengths, or should I go straight to her mother and explain what's been going on, and ask for her help to stop it? We're really friendly, and I also work with her when I sub. Or, do I stay out of it? The other option is to talk first to a mutual friend and see what she thinks, whether her opinion is that the mother would be open to that kind of conversation or not and how she thinks I should broach it. I *think* the mother would be OK with me telling her, but on the other hand, no one likes to hear bad things about their kids, so it might be thin ice.


d e v a n said...

I would not talk to the Girl. If Josie feels like she's said everything she can say and it's not going to work out, then I might consider talking to her mother.

Marie Green said...

I actually probably *would* talk to the girl. But not in a "we need to talk" sort of way. I'd just bring it up casually while hanging out some time. I think that's where I'd start, b/c it's the least controversial of your options. No one has to know that you planned it... It can be just something that you talk about over a snack sometime.

Also, I had a few friends like you described in high school. It was horrible. Luckily, I haven't had any like that since.

Nowheymama said...

*sigh* I hate this stuff so much. I might talk to the mom if I knew her really well. It's so hard to know when to get involved and when not to.

LoriD said...

If you see the kid regularly, I'd probably say something to her. Nothing too heavy or intimidating. Maybe just mentioning that Josie is hurt by the accusation that she is lying and confirming that she did in fact read all those books. Say it in front of her mother. I would want to know if my kid was behaving like a jerk.

Sarah said...

The girl probably IS just jealous. Or she's not an intuitive reader (just learned this term from Katy at Bird On The Street.) I guess some people can absorb and comprehend big chunks of words at one time- that's how it feels when I read, anyways- and other people, even good readers and people who like to read, see and comprehend just one word at a time. So they physically CANNOT read a chapter book in one day, and it probably does seem impossible to them that someone could. So it's pretty natural that they might feel defensive and assume someone MUST be skimming.
I realize this is not advise in any way. Just that I do understand where this kid might be coming from. I had a few smart friends in high school who got a little annoyed at my speed reading sometimes- they felt I HAD to be cheating somehow.

Kristin.... said...

Oh Meg has a "friend" like that. I had one from 1st grade all the way through high school; toxic, toxic, toxic.
With that said...I personally would stay out of it. Kids like that tend to thrive on the attention, so the more they get from everyone, the worse they are. And it's sad, because they could probably end up being a good friend if they weren't looking for someone to pay attention to them. That is what we found with Meg's little friend. And I requested that they not be in the same class this year because I got so tired of Meg complaining about the girl's treatment of her on the bus.
So, that's my 2 cents.

Not Your Aunt B said...

I would stay out of it. YOU know she read them, JOSIE knows she read them, and if she were tested on them, she would ace it. Giving her any attention may just stir it up some more (which is what they thrive on- attention)- is this worth it? Would she even let it go or believe that she was really reading?

My tactic was to play it off- the less energy you give them the faster their balloon of hot air deflates. Like Sarah said, Josie may be an intuitive reader. If this girl wants to call it skimming, it is because she is looking to spin it for more attention. It is how she reads and she is lucky to have such an ease with something people find so difficult.

creative kerfuffle said...

as much as i feel your pain and would myself like to say something to the girl or her mom, i think the best thing is to stay out of it. i do think a lot of times the more you focus on these things the worse they get because the girl is craving attention. she obviously feels threatened by josie, even though they are friends. i really do not remember having these girlfriend issues when i was in school but my daughter has drama all the time. girls these days are MEAN.

Stimey said...

Yuck. That's such a drag. I've already read your next post, so I know how it turned out, and I hope it stays un-brought up again. But dealing with crap like this is so terrible.

I also wanted to say that I'm sorry to hear about your "friend" from high school. It sucks to have people like that in your life. It sounds like you had a rough time then. I'm so sorry to hear it.

Sherendipity said...

I read these posts backwards in my feed reader, so I know that you emailed the girl's Mom to ask for her assistance. Good on you.
No matter what the problem, no matter how big or how small, we just can't ignore that "Mama Bear" instinct.