Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alpha Norma

I think I hurt Norma's feelings, but I have to feel okay about it.

We'd gone for a walk Monday and I'd mentioned the alpha females, not missing them on Saturday. She interrupted me and sincerely asked, "Am I an alpha female?"

I figured with such a direct question, I needed to answer honestly. I said something I've said to her before, that she can be very bossy, and added that she often plays devil's advocate (another thing we've discussed) and tries to force alternatives down my throat push things on me. I told her I wind up just holding my tongue, letting it drop. (In essence, I try to be gracious about her social faux pas.)

She replied that it must be just my issue then if I let things drop, to which I responded that I spoke up with a problem after being asked and that does not make it my issue. When she is upset, she fights like her controlling ex, someone she was subservient to and she does not realize that she submits others to the same treatment. She also has a hot button about being told what to do by a mate, but fails to internalize how much she does that to others.

I decided to give her an example from that day. During the walk, I'd mentioned that J had won two quarterly awards at school; I'd just gotten the certificate in the mail. The teachers choose four kids per classroom and the principal sends out the awards. During K and 1st, J got many of these awards; they were monthly back then, given for four characteristics like achievement (i.e. trying, not making, the best grades) and citizenship. Then in the 2nd grade, his teacher was an absolute bitch ("the lights are on but nobody's home," she said about my son) and never gave J one. His third grade teacher was in and out sick all the time, so she never gave any as far as I could tell. I didn't know if the awards were ongoing.

So here J got these awards for first quarter this year. It's pretty impressive he got two. It's nice, but I'm not exactly turning back flips. They're tokens. His name is misspelled, for heaven's sake, and we have a very simple last name. During our conversation, I said to Norma that I wasn't exactly sure why he'd gotten them, but it was good to be recognized by his rather cold teacher.

Norma piped up and said, in her devil's advocate tone, that the teacher probably looked through all the class' records and found that J had not gotten an award in two years, so that's why he got them, to round things out. Not only does that minimize J's achievements, I had to respond that teachers barely teach; she's not going through 23 files to see who might not have gotten an award recently. I can't imagine these little awards going in their school files, anyway. Besides, the files are guarded in the office. Norma was persistent that she was right and I consciously let it drop, because there's no discussing with her. It's like arguing with a wall. Her theory was preposterous, but then it's just a stupid little award.

Apparently her angle was based on two awards that her son won several years ago. Until this point, I didn't realize what a negative view she had of her son, but she figured his awards were just because everybody else had already won, it was finally his turn. (She didn't understand a math award for achievement didn't mean he was the best in the class, it meant that he tried hardest or made the most substantial progress.)

I think she is jealous that J is well behaved and gets decent grades. I guess I didn't know how bad her son's grades are (actually not that bad: A, B, couple Cs, D) or how ill behaved her son is (he goes to the Principal's office once or twice a year, not that big of a deal), as apparently teachers don't want him in their class - she thinks teachers go through records to label kids , so that was another basis of her folder examining argument. I don't think her son is "bad," but he does have some LD issues. I think he's basically a sweet kid who struggles in school.

In fact, I've thought of him more as a Renaissance Kid than anything else. His parents push the hell out of him - a kid who has trouble in school has been forced into a challenging foreign language immersion program for the last six years, takes piano lessons, takes cello lessons, practices said piano and cello, does scouts, LDS church, and soccer, plus extra church when Norma can fit it in. There are constantly plays/performances/musical contests. And homework takes him three or more hours per night. Plus many projects are inherent to sixth grade studies. He does all this each week in addition to being shuttled between his (odd) parents. It's a wonder he's not psychotic.

Back to Norma, it's been established before that she says crazy things. Generally I just take it and she apparently thinks our relationship is based on a healthy give and take, according to her summary Monday. I told her that a healthy give and take does not require devil's advocate or a forcing of ideas. Our relationship is actually based on her wanting the last word (I wish I'd used those words) as she makes preposterous leaps within our conversations and I am generally gracious enough to let her have her way. There's no discussing with her and the shit don't matter that much to me. I'm in it for the walk.

We'll see where this goes, if she wants to really try for a healthy relationship. Or if she's capable.


Aunt Becky said...

Sometimes you just have to let people know that kind of stuff. I applaud you for saying it the way it was. I am sure she'll get over any hurt feelings.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh, what a bitchy thing to say about why J got the awards. You're right - at his age teachers don't dole out awards just to be nice and fair. He's old enough to know they are deserved.

Karen @ Stiletto

I_Sell_Books said...

Wow, Alpha Female indeed. I feel sorry for her son, doesn't sound like he has much time to just be a kid, y'know?

I agree with Karen, too.


Anonymous said...

Yep, Norma is cramming TOO many things down her son's throat.
When is he just a kid?
When does he get to be himself?
Boy, she is wound way too tight for me.
Poor kid.
does she read your blog?

Cricket said...

No, nobody IRL knows where it is. A few know about it, but that's all.

Val said...

Bee-yotch! is what raced thru my mind as I read her sour-grapes response...
You need to do what I do: I have "friends" & I have "riding [walking] buddies", yet only a couple of individuals fit into BOTH categories!

Anonymous said...

That took guts, I am impressed.