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Friday, February 14, 2014

Awkward Conversation #327

I don't know about y'all, but I try very hard to stay out of my childrens' social lives, especially the Tongginator's now that she is approaching ten.  Every once in awhile, I might make a comment to the Tongginator about an incident with a friend, or we might role-play how a future interaction might go better, but I rarely talk with other parents about girl drama.

I believe in the "work it out yourselves" school of thought.

On Valentine's Day the Tongginator came home from a playdate. Now that I think about it, at what age do you stop calling these things playdates and start calling them "hanging out" at a friend's house?  Anyways, the playdate.  She's not my favorite friend of the Tongginator's for a myriad of reasons, but I've never said anything to the Tongginator about her except once to say I didn't exactly approve of how A. treats her mom.  Usually I have to drag the Tongginator kicking and screaming from this friend's house, mostly because A. likes to run and hide when it's time to end.  Today, however, the Tongginator and her friend were waiting at the door when I pulled up.

First clue.

The Tongginator was exceptionally quiet on the drive home.

Second clue.

When we'd been home less than five minutes, the Tongginator told me she needed to share something that happened at A.'s house.  She told me how both girls were sitting in front of a mirror, sucking on lollipops when A. asked her "why do your eyes look like that?"  The Tongginator told me that she answered by saying that most people in China have almond-shaped eyes like her own, and that's just the way they are born.  (I don't use the phrase almond-shaped; it's something she picked up in art class and the phrase stuck with her.)  The Tongginator said that A. then retorted, "well, they look funny."  The Tongginator told her that saying that was racist and that it hurt her feelings.  She then said A. replied, in a really snotty voice, "sorry."  You know the tone - the suh-AR-ee one before she followed up with "eww..." The Tongginator then said something back.  (She wouldn't tell me what.) And then A. shot back, "well, your eyes are squinty."


At first I pretty much just sat with the Tongginator, hugging her and being quiet.  I told her that I thought her eyes were beautiful and remarked that it must be difficult being a minority in her mostly white school (about 75% white).  After a few minutes of that, the Tongginator and I talked about how she handled the situation.  I asked her what she thought she did well, what she thought she could have done better.  I asked her what might happen the next time she encounters A., which will probably be on the bus ride home from school on Tuesday.  We role-played several potential conversations.

And then the Tongginator dropped the bombshell.

"I want you to call A.'s mom and tell her what happened."

Inwardly I cringed. I so did not want to go there. Outwardly I told the Tongginator that, while I believed A. said some incredibly hurtful things, I thought she - the Tongginator - handled herself really well for the most part. I also told her that she's getting older now, and is better able to advocate for herself in these types of situations.  I didn't feel I needed to call A.'s mom, especially since the girls are not in the same class, nor even the same grade at school.  It didn't matter.

"I still want you to call A.'s mom."

Well, y'all, I put on my big girl panties, said a prayer to the Holy Spirit and I called A.'s mom.  I don't know if I would have done this if my daughter was white.  Or if I was Asian-American.  But as a white mom to an Asian-American child... I just... I don't ever want the Tongginator to feel that we don't have her back.  So I did it.  I made the call.

Because she asked me to.

I kept the conversation extremely low-key with A.'s mom.  I started out by saying "I wanted to call you and... *insert long awkward pause* ... actually, I didn't want to call you because I think the girls will be able to work this out by themselves, but the Tongginator asked me to call you."  I told her what happened from the Tongginator's viewpoint and said that I felt this was a good learning opportunity for both girls.  I told her this has happened before, with the Tongginator being on the receiving AND giving end of these kinds of comments.  (Once the Tongginator made a comment about another child's skin color.  And once the Tongginator spoke quite appallingly about a classmate diagnosed with autism.)  I kept it exceptionally low-key, explaining that I had spoken with the Tongginator about how she responded well and how she could have responded better.  Of course A.'s mom sounded quite stressed, and I told her that everything was fine on my end because kids are all learning to navigate differences - they aren't expected to know everything at age nine.

And then the call ended.


But at the same time okay from my point of view.

Five minutes later the phone rang and the caller ID showed A.'s number.  I actually didn't expect a call back, but when I saw her number pop-up, I thought maybe A.'s mom was making A. call to apologize to the Tongginator.  Nope.  A.'s mom called to tell me that A. said "ewww" because the Tongginator rolled her eyes at A. when A. said sorry to her.  I thanked her for letting me know that.  Another long awkward pause.  And then we both said goodbye and hung up our phones.

And this is why I try to avoid girl drama at all cost.

Only it wasn't exactly girl drama, was it?


Casa Bicicleta said...

Oh I am cringing for you. I too would have hated making that call only I don't think A.) BG would ever tell me such an incident took place (which breaks my heart) and B.) even if she did tell me she would be MORTIFIED if I ever shared with anyone--especially the Mom-- that it did.
I only tell you this to emphasize that I think your Daughter had a very personally strong and emotionally healthy approach to this particular situation. She's convinced about what is right and wrong and was willing to put first hers --and then your-- neck on the line for her principals. Go Togginator!

Anonymous said...

I used to read your blog quite a bit, but then I kind of stopped reading blogs because it was taking up too much time. I would still check yours periodically and catch up, because I think you are funny and handle situations with a lot of common sense. Then you stopped writing. Out of the blue, I decided to check your blog again, and you are back. My daughter is from Tonggu, too, and that's how I found your blog in the first place.

Anyway, I think you handled the situation with your daughter's problem with her friend just fine. She's still at that age where kids should start handling situations with friends on their own, but as parents we still need to get involved and handle some for them. I love how you thought you shouldn't get involved, but you did anyway because she wanted you to, and you always want her to know you've got her back. That is awesome.

It's much better than my 13-year-old son's (now 14) friend's mom who used to walk over to talk to me about issues between the boys instead of letting them handle it themselves. I think once they get to be teenagers, parents should butt out of their kids' relationships with their friends, for the most part, unless there's an extreme situation going on. I mean, we are still their parents so we need to make sure we are aware of what's going on, but they should be able to make friend decisions on their own for the most part.

Reena said...

Hey! Long time no read! Glad to see you back!

My oldest is now 7 and I am amazed that we are already starting to venture into some of the frenemy terraine of girl drama! I am still in the somewhat easy spot of making excuses for why she cannot go to someone's house for a playdate-- at her request.

I think you hadndled the situation well. Tongginator asked you to make the call and you did and I think you handled the phone call well. It is hard to say what the "body language" between the two girls was really conveying or intending to convey, but you had mentioned this is one of your least favorite friends. Your gut is likely telling you something to take notice.

kj said...

Sad, but more sad that most parents can't believe their kid was ever in the wrong. You handled it wonderfully!