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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Peaceful Saturday Until....Gossip Girl?

Well, it was peaceful.....until the sleepover party pickup at 9:30 p.m., when we learned about some unkind calls P made [collectively, it seems, with friends] to a schoolmate.

Honestly, I try so hard to be vigilant. I model kind behavior because my basic instinct runs to being kind. Dan and I have both lifelong and newer friends we treasure. So does Figgy, who is a good, caring role model. And so does good-hearted Punch, more so now than ever, though she and one girl have been mean to each other for months and P seems to be really feeding on it. Ugh.

I am upset. I forbade Punch from bringing her iPad to the party Friday--I had precisely this fear--but other girls' phones were used. [At Punchy’s sleepover, I asked the 2 girls who had phones to please leave them behind, so they could experience the party and be present. They even took a morning hike. That said, some parents/caregivers seem to want their girls to have cells on them.]

Dan and I are working this out but are very disheartened. At our wits’ end. We have received texts tonight from the other girl’s mom reporting all this--grateful for that. Dan has been fielding them. I knew they would be coming, since P told me about the "prank" calls right away at pickup and asked if I’d heard from other mom yet.

We've had a hike play date scheduled with a nice friend of P’s for tomorrow--someone kind and much more into sports than gossip--but we cancelled it just now to try to show P how wrong her choices were. We don’t want to keep rewarding hurtful, defiant behavior. Still, we all suffer, because the hike would have been fun on a pretty day. Maybe we three will go, or maybe just garden at home.

This stuff is very, very hard and I am scared.

Good night. Heartsick. Support, hugs, prayers, love, insights, perspective and advice welcome.

P.S. And with this painful development, I hereby defend my right to use luxurious $55 Oribe hand cream to help smooth and beautify life’s rocky path.

  1. Punch had a double header soccer game from 10 to 12. I picked her up from sleepover and we brought her back. I figured if I was going to be at the field and track, I would walk. Did four loops, one mile.
  2. Watched a little "Murder, She Wrote."
  3. Important writing.
  4. Lavender bath salts.
  5. Dan and I had a nice, elegant dinner out. 
  • Uber to get to sleepover house, since Dan had car at our tax accountant. $9.05.
  • Uber from sleepover to soccer field. $9.57.
  • Montclair Farmers' Market, kale hummus, $8.
  • delicious small fresh quesadillas w cilantro-lime chicken and caramelized onions +  fresh salsa from this amazing taco truck, with $1 jar tip, $13.

Big April spends so far, 13 days into the month:

Lamp, $79; luxe hand cream, $55; Giotto dinner to go + jar of imported Italian artichokes, $46; dog groomer/beauty salon, $75; vet for hamster, $157; necklace repair, $128; blowout, $55; Over the Moon, bday gifts for Punch friend + book for me, $60; Kings groceries, $132; liquor store, $32; bra/underwear/tights, $126; second blowout w service tips, $52; Punchy, Lululemon, $28; Justice, bday gifts and gift bag/pink tissue for Punch friend + shorts for Punch + $2 donation at register, $58. Steep subtotal of $1,083.

MONEY THOUGHTS: Although we share our incomes, bills and expenses, the spends I list here are my spends, not Dan's. [For example, I take responsibility for the lamp buy.] So I didn't include the bill he paid for our Highlawn Pavilion dinner tonight, which was very much a treat [oysters, cocktails, salmon, forbidden rice, lobster roll, decaf cappuccino, shared fresh berries with cream--and spectacular NYC skyline view]. $132 + $25 tip, $157. And a piano man; Dan put $5 in his jar. He also went this afternoon to Home Depot for lawn supplies, hose, flowers and veggies to plant.


  1. Ouch. So sorry about the sleepover. Glad you had a night out. Hang in there.

  2. Ok, for advice, get The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes from the library, have P read it, and then have her read it out loud to you and Dan. No social life until she does it. Sometimes indirect is best. That book holds up.

    1. Liz, we were so glad to have a night out, too. Thanks. And I love your advice ! I never read that book but I see it's an award winner from 1945 and is about girls being kind [or not]. Did your mom have you and your sisters read it? It looks so good. Believe it or not, I have been drawn to it at Punchy's elementary school library, and I will take it out next time I volunteer there. Thank you! Love Alice

  3. oof, so hard. i really stressed with my girls that as a family we were leaders in kindness. That the world did not have as many kind people in it as it needed and it was our duty to lead in that way. But this is so much easier said and taught with girls that did not come from traumatic backgrounds. I guess I think on one hand, you have to be open about her own pain and how making others feel shitty might make you feel in the moment better, but putting shitty out into the world hurts everyone. That's a lofty premise, but one worth pushing. Therapy helps too and I'm glad she's in it. And then, I'm with Liz, pretty stern and firm consequences for such actions. I would go as far as saying 2 days worth of consequences--like perhaps all of next weekend. But only 1 person stays with her, the other 2 go and party it up with something she'd like. Next day is another parent's turn to play babysitter. And 3rdly, crushing crashing disappointment always worked with my girls. To this day, they know, I have huge, sky-high expectations of them to be moral, upstanding young women. I think they suffer from my disappointment more than my rage. Hard stuff, though Alice. I still grapple with the subtle times I run into stuff that C did not get from birth from me. Small, nuanced things. She once threatened/talked about trying for some foster-care grant so she could get an apartment that we expressly voted no on. We did not hold her purse strings, foster care did. Unbeknownst to her at the time, we called up her case worker and firmly made the case that she was in no way to get any more $ for this spoiled folly. And to C, we made her feel guilty as hell that she would take more than her fair share from a system that had already been generous to her. Again, crushing crashing disappointment did the trick. She felt shattered by our reaction. We weren't mean, just more like, "We are not these kind of people, and you aren't either, by god."

  4. You may have missed your opp for the 2-day punishment. Not a big fan of dragging these things out, but worth thinking about if there's a next time.

  5. Hi, I'm back (LOL). I'm rereading your story. That you were worried about this leads me to believe this has happened before. If it were me, I'd put my foot down. If this ever happens again in any form that will be the end of sleepovers for you, my friend. You clearly can't handle them and we will not allow you to go to them so that you can hurt others. We are, in essence, protecting these other girls. Nada, no more. And the next sleepover, re-warn her. If there is meanness, if there are prank calls. If she's in the freaking room where it happens, let alone being a part of it, if she breathes the words "prank call" or suggests it, or is involved in any way, shape or form, bye bye sleepovers until she is in high school. You'll revisit it again to see if she has become mature enough--and nice enough--to handle.

  6. as in you'll revisit it when she's in high school. And honestly this is not just punitive. She may be too emotionally immature for the group, all hell breaks loose mentality of sleepovers. You may be protecting her (and her reputation with other parents) from herself by removing her from such provocative situations.

    1. Kim, thank you. So much good advice here. Whenever I have seen your girls, including C, I have been impressed by their kindness. You and F. are kind people. I love your ideas about there is not enough kindness in the world and it's our job to add more. I was just talking to my sister, who echoed what you said about maybe P just can't go to sleepovers. Truth is, this is only the FIRST sleepover party she has been at! Unless you count hers last month but no devices there. Otherwise, P has one on one sleepovers with two friends in particular and they are good influences.

    2. Oh, I didn't mean to click Publish yet. The other thing is, P does have special needs. On the outside, we have a pretty, personable, social, capable, can-do, smart, winning, independent and caring young girl [you should see her with the pets and babies on the block] but inside, someone in transition and confusion and pain. I don't know if P's birth mom reads my blog. But P is def in a tough spot. Can't be legally adopted, Mom retains maternal rights but......It reminds me of hiking with my dear friend/college roommate Meggy, and something precarious in the mountains/cliffs called a Lemon Squeeze, where you can barely fit through and it's over a drop, etc. I think P is in a Lemon Squeeze. Sometimes I react to you and Liz thinking, wow, they are hard on Punch.....but I know you have the very best intentions and big picture of her life in mind....but you don't suffer fools [or bad behavior] gladly. I don't consider myself a softie, and Figgy is a good, kind person like your daughters. Dan is more of a softie than me, but he is getting better at waking up and smelling the coffee. The truth is, P lived w Mom and extended fam from age 15 months, leaving here, until age 6.5. No school, no skills, no friendships. She has had to overcome a lot. None of that is an excuse for meanness but I guess as her guardian angel, I also feel it is my role to advocate for Punch and defend her, to some degree. I like what you said: "I guess I think on one hand, you have to be open about her own pain and how making others feel shitty might make you feel in the moment better, but putting shitty out into the world hurts everyone." I will think on that, too. I appreciate your advice and perspective. This a tiger to tangle with. Love, Alice [it's time for me to put on my magic hand cream and walk to town and write] xo

    3. This is a really good point about protecting her. We have a friend who is a cop, and he takes a HARD line on them.

      Your friends have given you such thoughtful advice. (The Hundred Dresses is amazing, and you will cry.)

      I'll just add that my kids have made mistakes with technology. And they are very sweet kids. Just one bad decision can unleash a lot of bad consequences. We just have to keep working on them. I think you did the right thing canceling the hike. I know you work very hard with her.

      When James got a phone for the first time, he was wrapping up a year with a teacher he completely worshipped. I said to him one day, "Don't write anything you wouldn't want Mr. ---- to see." Again, I will tell you he has made mistakes, but at the time, it seemed like a good goal to aim for.

    4. Eileen, look at you! You've read The Hundred Dresses, too! I've been missing out....I do work hard, and I get sad when things go wrong....I try so hard for preventive measures...and btw, I remember that P has slept over at someone's house w. a couple other girls a couple years ago, so this was not technically the first [I'm not sure she ever really slept, either, God bless those parents]. I love that advice about "Don't write anything you wouldn't want Mr. ---- to see." Eileen, how vigilant are you? I've heard about Moms reading all text messages every day, all Facebook etc. etc. Thanks for writing. Love Alice

  7. Yes, your advocacy for her is absolutely necessary. I'm so conscious of the pain she's in and I think it would be unwise to ever dole out consequences without addressing that pain. I also think your love and advocacy will old her in excellent stead as she navigates these turbulent waters of sorting out her feelings and anger.

  8. Kim, Liz, Eileen....I reread whole glad you are there, in good times and bad....Kim, I love "We weren't mean, just more like, "We are not these kind of people, and you aren't either, by god." I have tried that in other ways and like this way of putting it. Excellent. Wishing everyone a good day. Love Alice