Monday, August 30, 2010

Friendship and Other Laments

The Matron has rather tried and true rules regarding blogging about friendships: Don’t. She has a great big slew of friends, men and women who sustain and inspire. One lovely friend comes immediately to mind. When Merrick was a toddler, yours truly was the campaign manager for a St. Paul mayoral race! Do you know what being a campaign manager for a mayoral race in a large city (okay, medium city) means? You work from 5:30 a.m until midnight every day for several months. Plus, there might be children you have to care for while your husband works his full-time job. And you don’t get paid!

The Matron has long been a political animal and her children started carrying signs and chanting the minute they were ambulatory. She’s sure that HWCBN will be a Tea Party member, just in the spirit of opposition. This is a rather long and winding way of saying that just days before the election, while she in the midst of constant crisis, panic, media frenzy and negotiation, Scarlett’s birthday happened to get in the way.

Scarlett: “Mom? Did you remember to buy the invitations for my 10 friends, the cake, the banner, the ice cream and make all those gift bags?”

Matron: “Uh, sure sweetie.”

Of course, she had completely forgotten about the Diva’s Big Day.

Matron on cell phone (to which she was physically connected for five months) to Really Good Girlfriend (sobbing): “How am I going to do all this work for the birthday bash? I have 15 meetings a day, forty press releases, 100 volunteers to manage and a skittish candidate!! Do you have any wine? Is this a good time to experiment with abusing prescription drugs?”

Girlfriend: “Don’t worry. The birthday is done. I’m on it.”

And readers? The day before the birthday party, this friend dropped off two boxes of stuff: party bags (stuffed and ready to go), cake, paper plates, napkins, party games, soda, paper cups, crepe paper streamers, plastic table cloth for the picnic table, candles, plastic forks—and wine. She had a local grocer deliver the ice cream the day of the event itself.

These are the kinds of friends the Matron has. And regular readers may notice that a post about a friendship, especially problems involved therein, are rare. So forgive her the wee bit-o-vent. Know the parties involved do not read this blog.

She tries to return the favor and goodwill modeled by her friend who saved the birthday (right down to a disposable camera for documentation, just in case). So when the Matron discovered – nearly two weeks ago—at 10:50 pm on a Wednesday night that Scarlett had lice, she declined to allow her daughter to accompany one of her best friends on a camping trip to Canada—a trip without a washing machine and with communal sleeping and living arrangements. They were scheduled to leave Friday afternoon. She had just one solid day, Thursday, to assess the situation and decide. Scarlett, on her end, gave up several callbacks and acting opportunities to take this trip. Sometimes bad things happen and lice was certainly one of them. She could not, neither as a friend or supporter of good public health, dump this problem on someone else.

Here’s the take-away question: do you treat lice on a Thursday morning and send your child off on a camping trip with another family the next day, expecting that they will do all the combing and retreating that lice require? Or do you empathically help the children involved deal with their great disappointment and let another family off the critter hook?

That is really a rhetorical question because she thinks it’s a no-brainer. Scarlett didn’t go (and cried for hours – one more reason to fully believe her mother is indeed set on ruining her life).

But the other family – who have one child and truly wanted a friend (who wouldn’t!) lobbied hard to take Scarlett. They offered to treat, to comb, to care for her. The Matron melted under pressure. Her no became a ‘well, maybe.’ She hawed and hemmed; she hemmed and hawed. She should have stuck to her immediate no but she’s weak in the people pleasing department. But when she found that last liquid, live egg on Friday morning? Clearly, the answer had to remain no. She made the hard call and cancelled.

Later that day, on the eve of the departure, the Matron called the parents to reiterate her concern for their daughter and her own apologies for the unfortunate situation. Scarlett’s friend answered the phone.

Matron: “Bethany, can I talk to your Mom?”

Bethany (so not her real name): “She has a headache.”

Matron: “Your Dad?”

Bethany: “Dad, can you talk to Mary?”

Father in background: “Tell her I have a headache.”

Upon their return, the father in question sent the Matron an email message in which he informed her that she created “three days of Crisis and Panic” for no reason, handled the situation poorly (okay, she will admit she should have stuck to her no instead of waffling) and otherwise ruined their trip. Surprise! He didn’t inquire as to whether or not the lice were gone or how that whole week of laundry and toil went –just made sure she knew she was a very bad person.

Although the Matron is working either toward sainthood or a really good gig during the next round of reincarnation, she did reply with a conciliatory message that sunk to one clearly sarcastic line thanking him for his ‘supportive and thoughtful’ message. After all, who got to go on a vacation and who combed lice out of hair two hours a day for a week at the start of the fall semester?

Then he emailed her this link, without comment.

Thank God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah-Universe that Reason grabbed the Matron by her shoulders and firmly moved her away from the computer until she had calmed down enough not to offer her own friendly links for various psychological disorders. Instead, she ignored it. And blocked his email.

Damage, done. Friendships, altered. Someday there may be an apology? Until then –and because this is such good material (sorry, she’s wired that way) – she is considering this relationship blogging fodder and, alas, something from the past.

Of course, HE doesn’t have a blog wherein he gets to be the center of attention – uh oh! Maybe she better click on that link, after all!! She sort of likes living life out loud and in front of others (unlike HWCBN).


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You have got to be freaking kidding me. You did the right thing--straight down the line, up to and (especially) blocking the email.

I have been the exhausted mother battling head lice and he's lucky to still be alive as far as I'm concerned!

SUEB0B said... tried to save their family from lice and somehow that was wrong? 'da hell?

Michele R said...

You definitely don't have that personality disorder. Those with it do not have empathy for others--that is the #1 trait--and would only think of themselves and their own appearance over how lice would affect another family/families. Plus those with NPD would never spend the time with their own children as you do, nurturing what the children want to do. I think recently it has been in the news and is trendy to use this term.
Sorry for the angst--you certainly do not need it.

Deb said...

"Oh, for gosh sake, of course, send me your lice-laden child. There's nothing I'd like better than taking these on."

You made the right call. He, on the other hand, needs more help than can be offered in a reply.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is "wow". I'm not sure they were ever actually friends to begin with. Good riddance.

JFS in IL said...

Someday lice will hit their family and they will be in your shoes.

Since they only have the one kid, to them her sorrow at not having Scarlett on the trip would seem the most important thing in the world.

You made the right call.

*m* said...

Holy crap! I would weep with gratitude if I were in their shoes. (Cue bad memories of the mom who brought her child with chickenpox to my toddler son's Gymboree class two weeks before Christmas...)

People astound me. Alas, usually not in a good way.

You totally made the right call.

Anonymous said...

There must be an issue here, the daughters happiness for the camping trip was more important than not spreading lice to her and most likely to themselves. I've had lice and I would have paid a large sum of money to their friends to have kept some distance while in treatment. It was all I could do not to be a little p-oed at the time.

Common Household Mom said...

I say you did the right thing. I did not have quite the dilemma that you did, but when my kids got lice (probably from their cousins, but my sister-in-law/their mother denies it to this day), I felt it was my moral obligation to tell the parents of my children's friends. For my oldest daughter, It was her first boyfriend, and after I told, he was not her boyfriend for much longer. On top of that, the kids all had to get severe haircuts. So sad.

The parents of this other girl obviously do not know the chemical treatments, hours of combing, forced haircuts, sympathetic itchy scalp, and general awfulness of a lice infestation. If they did, they would be thanking you up and down.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Okay, so a day after cleaning lice off your daughter you refuse to let her spend a week with another family? And this was wrong HOW? WHY? That is wack. Did he think you said "Scarlett is NICE" instead of "Scarlett has LICE?"

I confess to having to remind myself that my children's well-being is my main concern, NOT their happiness. JFS nailed it.

Anonymous said...

Mary I think the narcissitic disorder lies with HIM. How dare you inconvenience and alter HIS plans?!!! Ofcourse there was no actual concern, compassion or understanding about the situation you were in because he was too fixated on HIS OWN. I think you are right to reconsider the "friendship" of the adults, the behavior because they did not get their way simply borders on infantile. Definitely a sign the nut has slipped WAY off the bolt!
Don't waste time and energy on deciphering these people; they have shown you who they are and it's not so hot.Sorry it worked out that way. Bramble

Minnesota Matron said...

I must admit that this all feels good ! Nice to vent (and I do think I'm right and would agree with that diagnosis, Bramble :-).

Anonymous said...

Wow. WOW.
I'm trying to see the other side here. Since my youngest is often taken along by an only-child friend and family, I do understand how much easier life is for them if SnakeMaster joins their family for a day or a weekend.
BUT! If SM had lice, or chicken pox, or the flu, of course I would keep him home with me!! My child, my responsibility. Sadly, that would make it my lice problem. How I'd love to let someone else deal with it, but really? How could these people think of subjecting themselves to lice?!?
Obviously, they aren't thinking clearly.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he e-mailed the link as an explanation of his own behavior and as an apology to you?

Obviously, I'm being too nice.
I'd be mad as heck, too.

~annie said...

Clearly, those people have NO idea what lice treatment entails! Can't you find some nice links, with photos, perhaps even video, that they might enjoy?

Ilyanna said...

I actually laughed out loud when I read what he had done. He's a fool. I, too, dealt with lice this summer (just reading the word my my head itch) and it took four chemical treatments and a drastic haircut to get rid of them on my son. The "friend" is clueless, and I wish I had more friends like you. Thanks for being a good, responsible mom and setting a great example for your family and readers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with whoever it was that suggested HE had the narcissistic whatsis. Projection, anyone?

Jen on the Edge said...

The father is a jerk. Be glad he's out of your life.

As for you, I hope you are finally done with all the treatments and cleaning. What a nightmare.

Hang in there.

Jil said...

First of all, your friend who helped you with the birthday party is a true friend.

Second, I think maybe Scarlett should wear a pretty hat for a couple of days. Then, send it off to the jerk saying that when Scarlett cleaned her room the other day she found his daughter's hat and she is returning it.

Karen ~ said...

Clearly you are an evil woman, why, you FORCED these people to actually (gasp) interact with their OWN DAUGHTER. Whom they were looking forward to ignoring throughout their entire vacation.

Optimist said...

Touche Karen!

MM - please tell me these are the same parents that parked their daughter at your house for days on end without a phone call or check in the whole time??? Otherwise, that would mean you know TWO sets of completely f&^cked up parents!

Bizarro! I hope they got bedbugs on their camping trip!


Anonymous said...

If I was the camping family? I would have brought home one helluva gift for Scarlet and a lovely "thank you" something for you. Because the alternative? Makes me itch.

Cindy in Walla Walla

cardinal said...

I'm at a loss for words. Two lice episodes when the kids were young, and I had waist-length hair. I truly considered shaving all our heads and fire-bombing the house. It was horrible.

Clearly an asshat who needs to be deleted from your address book.

*m* said...

Rereading all these comments...I wonder where the mom was on all this? SHE was the friend, yet all the communicating is coming from hubby.

I wonder if she is secretly glad you cancelled? Betcha if 'Bethany' had gotten lice, it wouldn't have been daddy doing the fine-tooth-combing.

MJ said...

Matron, you did the right thing as evidenced by the comments. Obviously, this family has never had to deal with lice. What an inconvenient nuisance it is. They should have brought one huge gift for Scarlett and a "maybe next time" card!

dkuroiwa said...

*m* took the words right out of my fingertips...she probably DID have a headache from having to listing to her ass of a husband's ranting about how HIS vacation was ruined.

That whole situation was wrong. and you, Matron, handled it perfectly.
but i would think about doing that hat thing that Jill mentioned...but i'm kind a bitch like that.

cndymkr / jean said...

I'm at a loss here. Usually I can see both sides but in this case I am at a loss to explain their side. Who the hell would want to go on vacation with a child who has lice? There is no up side to it. None.

Anonymous said...

what, a family with one child requires the attendance of another to have a good time? hmm. seems like in addition to being ungrateful jerks they also don't understand that vacations are the greatest family bonding time.

Suburban Correspondent said...

That family has obviously never dealt with lice. My sympathies are with you.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Good grief. Obviously the person with narcissistic tendencies (and a few other issues, I'm thinking) is the person who sent you a less-than-compassionate email because, in his view, you'd inconvenienced him.

That must have felt hurtful to you, and I'm sorry you had that piled on top of you in the midst of having to make good parenting choices even when your child was distraught about the choice == and deal with lice.

Mom and woman love coming your way now. XO

Ulrike said...

You totally did the right thing, blocking his email.

But if you hadn't, I would have checked to see if Mayo Clinic has a page for "Supercilious Asshole Disorder" which you could have sent him the link for. Because I reckon he has it.

Sorry, I usually don't swear.

Caro said...

I would have kissed your feet for keeping your child to yourself!

And just for future reference, the dangerous chemical treatments aren't needed. All you need is vinegar. That stuns/kills the living lice and can penetrate and damage the eggs.
If you soak your hair in vinegar daily and comb with the tight close-toothed comb often you're all set chemical-free.