Thursday, 22 November 2012

Trouble on the doorstep: What would you do?

Hard to see the wood for the trees on the doorstep
I've never seen a chapter in a parenting book called: How to handle an irate parent on your doorstep.

Not one. And I've never seen a blog post or an article about what to do when your child has been accused (and convicted) of a crime against another - and that other's parent is standing crossly ringing your doorbell. 

But this very thing happened last night. 

Boy Two had come home from school as usual and was setting about redressing his E-number deficit before I could find him a healthy snack. 

The doorbell rang. I was greeted by a mother (who I vaguely know and don't like much) and her red-eyed sniveling daughter - a year or so younger than 10-year-old Boy Two. 

"There was an incident on the bus with your son," she began. 

"Oh?"

"Boy Two hit Her in the face with a shoe on the bus."

"Oh. That looks nasty." Sure enough the child did have a red mark on the bridge of her nose. 

Stalling and feeling outnumbered I called Boy Two. 

"What happened?" I asked him. 

He began a flustered explanation about how She had hit him in the face first another day with her lunch box. Then again with her gym bag. 

"But she didn't have her lunch box," the mother was triumphant. 

"I did on Monday," the daughter seemed embarrassed. 

"And you didn't have your gym bag."

"I did," she whispered. 

"It wasn't just me," said Boy Two. 

"It was. Everyone on the bus said so." claimed the mother. 

"Everyone?" I asked. 

"Yes. Everyone who got off."

"Oh."

I asked her daughter to tell me what happened. And she said that yes my boy did hit her with the shoe, but she might have been "annoying" him. 

This felt like a victory, so I decided to wrap things up while I could still keep my temper. 

"I think apologise are what we need."

"I'm sorry," said Boy Two. 

"It's OK," said the girl, very quickly, clearly as keen as I was to get the encounter over with - although not keen enough to apologise herself. 

"We'd better go and put some ice on that," said the mother looking at the already fading red mark. 

I restrained myself from yelling: "Don't you think you should have put ice on her face first before you hauled her out to have a go at my boy at what was clearly a case of a playground spat and a mis-aimed gymshoe."

And after she'd flounced off. "You won't do that again, will you Boy Two?"

I hate confrontation almost as much as I hate false accusation and decisions made without considering all the facts. 

What would you have done?

20 comments:

  1. Great post Ellen. You dealt with it much better than I would. Sounds like mother was already on high horse and maybe daughter did try to explain but was marched off anyway.

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    1. Daft Mamma, The mother was on her high elephant!

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  2. Punched her...
    But that's probably not the advice you are looking for, is it?

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    1. Maybe not, but secretly I'd like to be able to punch if the need arose!

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  3. Sounds like you handled it very well. I'm not entirely sure what I would have done, but if it ever happens I'll be remembering this blog!

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  4. Well done Ellen. As you know I had similar - but the mother has told her son to simply excommunicate himself in all sizes, shapes and forms from my son (both boys in this instance are 11). BUT she did contact another parent (boy also accused) who stood up to her in the way you did - get both sides and an apology. So why not do same with my son? I am afraid I resorted to a facebook rant (no names, no mention of incident, school etc) to offload and have sent her a text inviting meeting with BOTH boys and BOTH mothers. Will it happen? Unlikely!
    But a manual of how to deal would be very useful. be proud of yourself for the way you handled it!

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    1. I suspect she's scared of meeting you and facing the truth. It's much easier to create a monster out of someone you won't speak to.

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  5. Well you handled it marvellously and I have something similar occurring with my 7yo presently. I tend to ask the other children outright to apologise to mine if the mothers aren't doing so. A lot of parents are rubbish and this one was no exception. Well done you for keeping your temper coz it must have been difficult not to rage at them both! :)

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    1. Thanks. It's very difficult to keep calm. I do regret not asking the little girl to apologise.

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  6. I think you handled it well Ellen and I can't understand the type of parents who are quick to come chapping the door when we all know that the children sort it out among themselves and are back to normal next day.

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    1. Absolutely. I was very confident that this Little Flower could give every big as good as she got.

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  7. Handled it brilliantly - and far better than I could have!

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  8. Well done. There's always too sides to an argument or spat, and before any real accusations fly around it's a good idea to ask for both sides first. Then apologies from both would be the most even-handed way to conclude. None of it easy with a red-faced parent shouting at you. Even as long ago as my childhood, I do remember being more upset about being wrongly accused than if I got into trouble for something I had really done. Mxx

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    1. Thanks mum. I can't imagine where I got the idea that it's always fairest to find out what really happened and hear both sides!

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  9. Well done on handling that situation. I haven't been there yet and not sure what I'd do if I was. But I think you handled it well x

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  10. A comment from Gita (http://msalliance.me/) who couldn't get Blogger to play with her.

    I was on someone's doorstep once.

    Her youngest, a total arse, maliciously repeated exaggerated and damaging gossip that he had heard about my elder child, who was his big brother's best friend. He yelled this out in the playground deliberately to hurt my younger child. This was just the latest in a long line of nasty, personal attacks, and my daughter had no doubt given as good as she got, but this incident humiliated her publicly in front of all of her friends and was totally unfair on her.

    So, instead of kicking up a stink at the school, I went round and calmly asked to have a quiet word in private. I asked her to consider having a word with her son upon which she launched into a vicious tirade against the girls at our primary school in general and then twisting her knife into my heart. I wrote about it, obliquely, at the time. She has not spoken to me since.

    I am sad, because we have known the family for a while and I've often tried to help and support her, especially her eldest who is adorable but scatter-brained at times. I still wonder who is gossiping and spreading lies about me. But I take some comfort in the fact that I did the right thing and tried to be reasonable and conciliatory.

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  11. Well you handled that really well - talk about being put on the spot! And actually well done to the girl for fessing up - she could have lied. Sounds like the mum was itching to blame everything on your son!

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