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Co-op Mom

by Sarah
(Portland, Oregon)

My child attends a small cooperative private school with 34 other children. Because the community is small, there are many school events and I end up seeing the other parents often on my work shift, an evening school event, or birthday parties. Gossip spreads like wildfire and so do attitudes.

At a recent end of the school year party for all families, I went inside to search for a bathroom and encountered a couple of the school girls having a dance party near the door. The bathroom door was locked so I waited for a minute by the door and smiled at the girls dancing. The parents of one of the girls were across the room at a snack table watching this. These parents are a bit surly when drunk, and they had been drinking. The music was Michael Jackson's Thriller.

One of the dads starting acting out the monster moves to Thriller and heckling me to dance. The girls then started pulling on me to come dance. I had to go pee and was not amused, and was not going to dance for this jerk. Knowing there was another bathroom through the kitchen, beyond the parents, I headed in that direction and ignored the drunken parents.

As I rounded the bend and went past the group, there was a sudden burst of laughter at my back. Not turning around, it was clear I was being mocked further in some way and a few more parents were joining in the "fun" of it.

I never looked back but did my business. When I came out of the bathroom, the group had dispersed. However, today I feel embarrassed and ashamed and angry, not knowing how to deal with my public humiliation, and certainly not knowing hot to greet any of the these parents the next time I see them, which will likely be soon.

My daughter has 1 more year at this school, which she loves, and I feel stuck. I have even fantasized about getting a shovel or baseball bat and giving the dad a taste of my anger on surprise. I know being humiliated in this manner, especially by a women would be a sweet and effective method with him. He's an misogynist and a bully.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, Sarah. Thanks for writing your story on this site. You are smart to do this instead of becoming violent--which could lead to more pain for you than you've already been through. You have every right and reason to be angry at the man and the other parents who treated you badly. Humiliation and shame like that are very abusive, and that is one of the hardest things we have to deal with as human beings.

Here are some things to consider:

1) You handled yourself beautifully. You did not give them the time of day, walked away and acted like an adult, while they acted like children. You are already ahead of the game.

2) Have you ever heard that "the best revenge is a happy life"? I think it's true. Let those people have their sick, drunken, toxic behavior and go on about your life according to your integrity and good character.

3) They are creating their own consequences. No one gets away with anything in this world. Act with dignity and self-respect, and they will feel the pain they are creating. It is guaranteed, and you do not have to be the one that makes it happen. Life assures that "what goes around comes around," and you don't have to do a thing but live according to your beliefs in values.

4) You don't want to engage with these people in any way. If you do, that will only fuel their fire. Stay focused on your purpose--to be a good person, a good parent, and then to move your daughter to another school when the time is right.

You are better than the low level behavior that they are trying to draw you into. Spend some time focusing on what you value and appreciate about yourself, and stay fiercely loyal to your values.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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Jun 20, 2009
Oh Wow
by: Abby

Hi Sarah

I so agree with Dr. DeFoore's answer. You actually handled it brilliantly and they ARE bringing about consequences to themselves by their actions. Realizing too that this man didn't really put much thought into what he said or did might help.

Think about when we gossip about people (and we all do at some level to some trusted person), how little it means.

I know the consequences of such behavior is not good but sometimes recognizing that it is also OUR behavior can relieve us of the indignation we feel when someone else does it.

You handled yourself with dignity and strength. Don't undo such good work by sinking to their level.

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