"So-called friend"

(85 Posts)
SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 11:59:15

DD2 is 12, in year 8.

There is a girl in her class who she was good friends with from year 3. They would sometimes fall out, then make up friends, as people do.

However, particularly since they have been in the senior school, things have become quite unpleasant between them.

The girl (X) began to ignore DD, for no apparent reason, for weeks at a time. While this was happening, she would also encourage others in the friendship group to ignore DD.

After a while, she would decide to be friends. She would give her reasons for the falling out to be things like "I'm sorry, I was in a bad mood, and I took it out on you." or "I called you in the corridor, but you didn't answer, so I thought you were ignoring me" (DD had not heard her call.) At first DD was happy to make friends with her, but she soon got tired of the cycle, and stopped wanting to be friends with her. Then X would involve all their other friends and DD would feel very pressurised into making up, only to be subject to the same silent treatment a few weeks later.

As DD became more resolute in not wanting to make up friends again, X started to involve the rest of the class in pressurising DD to be friends with her. At least once, she had the form teacher involved in "peacemaking". (The next time it happened, I emailed the teacher to ask her, politely, to stay out of it, on DD's request.)

X makes things very difficult for DD, when she is ignoring her. She will say nasty things about her to other friends. If DD is chatting to someone, X will call them away, to speak to them "urgently".

It seems like, not content to ostrasize DD herself, she wants to encourage the rest of the girls to do so.

Recently, she has really ramped up the situation, trying to get DD in to trouble. In one practical lesson, DD and her partner were next to X and her partner. They were a bit rowdy, and X told the teacher, who (rightly) told them off. But a couple of days later, X told the teacher that it had happened again, which was untrue. (DD had to go to the teacher to explain - luckily she was believed.)

So.

A couple of days ago, X's mother rang me to say that X had come out of school in tears, because DD had spread a rumour about her. I questioned DD, and she told me that she and three other girls had been joking between the four of them, that one of the four had had sex with X (a silly schoolgirl joke, although, I agree not fair to joke about X who wasn't there - I have spoken to DD about this).

Somehow, the joke spread beyond the four of them. DD did not spread it, and I think possibly it was overheard by someone else, who spread it as a rumour. The rumour was spread over the course of the afternoon, but no one spoke about it at all the following day. So, X had a very unpleasant afternoon.

DD sent a text to X apologising profusely about her part in the situation. X replied to the text demanding that DD go round to tell everyone she had spread the rumour to that it was not true. In fact, DD had not spread the rumour, so had no one to tell. And in any case, as DD pointed out, that would only dredge it up again, and be worse for X.

X has blamed only DD and does not apportion any blame to the other girls in the four. Further, she has told others (including one of the group of four "jokers") that DD's apology is not a proper apology.

So it seems to me that she is now using this as just one further thing to get at DD.

X's mother does not believe DD's version of events, even though X was not there at the time, and therefore could not have known how the rumour started. She was very upset and apalled at the nature of the joking. (Perhaps that was coloured by the fact that it had caused the horrible rumour though, rather than actually being offended by it, though, because I thought the joke quite tame, although not really amusing.)

So, my concern is this. That X will continue to try to ostracize DD from her friends, and make her school life very difficult. DD is low down the social pecking order in the class, anyway, and can't afford to lose friends, as she would find it hard to make new ones.

Should I speak to the school, or is it all too nebulous?

Cavermum Wed 02-Oct-13 12:49:19

Poor DD and poor you, what a dreadful situation. The ostracisation that you describe seems to be more and more common these days-a type of bullying if you ask me.
Sorry for the brief reply, but I would definitely contact the school to discuss. This issues needs to be kept in school (although you can understand 's Mum rising to her defence, however she should also tackle this through school). In the meantime, see what you can do to boost your DD's self-esteem. A big hug from me

mistlethrush Wed 02-Oct-13 12:53:57

It was in year 8 that I gave up trying to have 'friends' at all at school. It was so much easier to not rely on anyone for friendship, to do my own thing and just get on with doing things on my own rather than get hurt again when it all went wrong.

zower Wed 02-Oct-13 13:12:21

such helpful replies above...

i feel your pain OP.

noblegiraffe Wed 02-Oct-13 13:22:42

Might be worth discussing with the head of year to see if they have any suggestions. As a teacher I sometimes get pastoral emails saying 'X is having friendship issues with Y, please be aware and make sure they aren't sat/grouped together in class, please report any issues' then if Y says X is annoying her, the teacher is in the loop and can deal more effectively. Teachers can also spot incidents of ostracism and flag up with the HOY to get a fuller picture, which might help?

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 14:53:23

Thank you so much for reading my vast epistle!

I thought to contact the HOY, but thought it might seem silly. I will do that, now.

Decisiontimesoon Wed 02-Oct-13 15:01:17

I don't think you should have asked the teacher to 'stay out of it' even if that was what DD wanted. The teachers are skilled at resolving issues such as these - and of course can see both sides of a situation. You only hear one side from DD. I would definitely involve the teacher and then, if needed, the HOY but you may not need to go that far. The girls themselves probably won't resolve it amicably

iheartdusty Wed 02-Oct-13 15:26:45

this brings to mind the 'Wendy' threads elsewhere on MN. is this girl being a Wendy?

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 15:31:54

Well, I see your point, Decision, but DD felt very pressurised to "make friends" with X, particularly as she is very fond of the teacher.

I do think teachers don't always see what it going on. To her, it was probably that the girls had had a falling out. DD was tired of all the "falling out", so whether she was in the right, or the wrong, or whether it was a bit on both sides, we felt that her desire not to make friends again was just as valid as X's desire to make friends.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, and I appreciate I hear only one side, I think that sometimes people get in a pattern of behaviour which is destructive. So, sometimes, the cycle just has to be broken.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 15:40:43

I know about awkward friendships in 13 year olds, and it sounds as though X isn't a great friend, absolutely.

Hmm, though, just a bit.

If DD doesn't want to be friends with her, fair enough. But making up lies about her with the three friends, which just so happen to be overheard by all the other rumour-mongers - and then refusing to set anyone straight because she is now so concerned for X that she fears that putting the truth out there might make things worse - well, I'm not sure about that.

It does seem as though you're more ready to characterize X's 13 year old behaviour as undesirable, your own dd's is just silly schoolgirl stuff, and 'quite tame', and she's right not to try to set the record straight.

When my dd was 14 a rumour went around that she'd been 'asking for sex' and it made her miserable. I don't suppose I'll ever know whether there was a germ of truth in there somewhere, though of course I'd like to think not. But do not underestimate how unpleasant that will be right now for X. It is not tame, it is really quite a nasty thing to happen.

DD needs to know that it's ok not to want to be X's friend, but it's not OK to have bitchy chats about her instead, as tempting as that is when someone has been unpleasant to you in the past.

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 15:55:51

I absolutely agree Original that it was wrong to joke about someone who wasn't there. I have spoken to DD about it. I did ask her, though, how she would have felt if the joke (not the rumour) had been about her, and she said it would have been fine. It was just some silliness between the four of them.

The joke was "quite tame"; as a rumour, spread round the class, it was horrible. I am absolutely not trying to minimise what happened to X. In fact, DD was really upset that that had happened to anyone. (Part of the reason X is blaming her, I think, is because DD was so upset that it had happened.)

The point about being unable to call it back was that she hadn't spread it in the first place.

If your daughter was X, what would you want to happen about the rumour? Would you think it useful for the four girls, or a teacher to talk about it, afterwards? X's mother thought "least said, soonest mended", but, of course if it persisted, I am sure a different tack would have to be taken.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 16:02:46

I guess if I was X's mum, I'd want the girls who started it to be nice (which your dd was, in texting her) first, and second, to make it clear and put it out there that it was a silly joke and not true. At the moment, I think their silence is probably taken as confirmation by others, unfortunately.

Even if dd and friends had no part in the active spreading of the rumour, it did start because of their conversation (which must have been either quite loud or quite unguarded, to have given rise to such a pervasive rumour), and as such, if I were X's mum, I would probably be thinking that it was their responsibility to do everything in their power to set the record straight.

I don't think it's for them to say 'oh, that will just make it worse', tbh. That sounds just a little bit like an easy way out... and I suspect X and her mum are blaming dd more because she used to be X's friend, so it is more natural to focus on what she did.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 16:06:34

And also, I do think that sitting around saying untrue things about someone with whom you have resolved not to be friends is not just tame joking... it might be different if you were all sitting around discussing someone you all liked, and who you knew would find it amusing, but that's not quite the case, is it?

I think you can see this when it's X doing it - one of your concerns is that X will 'say nasty things about dd' to her friends, and gang up on her. But I think you're a bit less willing to see how your own dd's behaviour might look awfully like the same thing.

I'm not trying to have a dig for the sake of it, or be a one-woman nest of vipers, but I do think that this is very easy to see as not tame joking, or amusing, if you are on the other end of it.

Suppose dd came home after breaking friends with X, and said that X had been sitting around loudly talking about dd having had sex with someone she hadn't?

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 16:12:19

Original, all the others are still X's friends. I think part of the reason X is choosing to make DD the scapegoat, is because it means not falling out with the others.

Remember the "joke" was that one of the four had had sex with X. This girl would have been upset by the rumours just as much as X.

I asked X's mother whether she wanted us to contact the school. She said not at the moment. And, of course, she could contact the school herself, if she thought some kind of announcement by a staff member or my DD would be useful.

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 16:19:35

X posted with your second post.

The other three girls are all X's friends. DD did not start the joking. I have spoken to her very strongly about talking about others behind their backs. I do take that very seriously, believe me.

DD has apologised profusely for inadvertently starting the rumour. I am not trying to minimise that.

However, X has not apportioned any blame to the other three, only to DD.

PlatinumStart Wed 02-Oct-13 16:31:04

I'm afraid I cannot agree that stating that someone you don't like and are not friends with had sex with someone, when this is simply not true is a joke. Frankly it's unkind and smacks of bullying.

I would definitely speak with the school but be prepared to hear that this is very much a case of six too one...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 16:32:37

If X knows that DD doesn't like her any more, she is obviously going to be angrier with her about the conversation, I would think.

You're worried X will turn DD's friends against her... but who is talking to whose friends here?

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 16:48:45

Okay, the "joke" was this.

They had their forms for the HPV jab. One of the FAQ was "Is it okay to have the jab, if you have already had sex?" The answer was, "Yes".

So, they said to one of the four (Y), "Oh, it's okay, Y, you can still have the jab!" So the bantering continued, and one of them suggested that the person Y had had sex with was X. Remember, all the others are friends with X. DD was not the one who brought up X's name.

I asked her afterwards, what if it was your name that was said. She said she wouldn't care, because it was funny and lighthearted.

Of course, she would have cared about the rumours, but not about the joking, that then led to the rumours.

I have discussed with her that joking about someone who wasn't there was not right. I think I may have mentioned that, earlier?

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 16:56:59

When DD started in the senior school, she had one friend in the class - X. I tried to encourage her to make new friends, as I was concerned that if they fell out (and they had a history of falling out, she would be stuck. So, DD made new friends, and of course X was part of that friendship group.

Then X started her nastiness, and now it is is obviously a bit difficult within the group, because the other girls can't easily socialise with both DD and X at the same time, as they could in the past.

So no, DD is not trying to take X's friends away. They are her friends, too.

ixqic Wed 02-Oct-13 17:04:10

I have only read the first 2 responses so I will probably repeat stuff.

this is classic girl bullying. Ostracizing and friendship circle which DD has been perceptive in her own right to identify.

the manipulation of the group against her, the lumping of all the blame on her. it is scapegoating by someone has learned very well from adults around them how to bring shame and submission to her authority.

I think dd hasn't quite accepted that she is supposed to be subservient and X is trying to impose her will upon her.

DD needs a meeting with the Pastoral manager/Head of Year and speak openly, frankly and in depth about the whole carry on. A good pastoral manager has seen and heard it all before and will be able to put other parts into the picture from other interactions around school.

DD needs to find other things to occupy her time. After school activities away from them and friends how have different interests from them. There are loads of different types of activities she can pursue to get her into friendships with kids who actually do stuff with each other rather than bitch.

Good luck with it all.

ixqic Wed 02-Oct-13 17:07:44

i meant to suggest that you are in the meeting with the HOY/pastoral manager so that everyone is clear on what happened and to give her moral support. if you are the type, resist the urge to speak for her. she is big girl now and has to get the experience of speaking for herself.

keepsmiling12345 Wed 02-Oct-13 18:20:58

I agree completely with theoriginalsteamingnit's posts and think that OP is treating her DD's behaviour as jokey and yet believes X's behaviour is worse. I would suggest you approach the head of year about what is clearly a dysfunctional relationship and seek her advice about how to help the girls manage this. But i think it is essential that OP acknowledges that your DD's behaviour with this recent incident is clearly part of the problem.

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 18:46:55

Well, actually, Alien, I have taken DDs part in the rumour situation very seriously.

But I have said that she didn't consider what they were saying to be nasty, in any way. She wouldn't have minded if she herself had been the butt of the joke. I wish she had - I imagine she'd be over it by now, like her friend Y.

I don't know if someone overheard them joking. Maybe one of the group shared the joke with someone else in the class, and it spread from there.

However it happened, DD did not intend for the rumour to be spread. She has been appalled at the fallout. She has apologised profusely. We have discussed with X's mother how she would like it handled with the school, and taken her preference on board.

But clearly, my DD is a bully, and not X.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 02-Oct-13 19:20:28

I don't think either of them are bullies - I think they have a difficult relationship and both have made mistakes. I think you're a bit more ready to see a problem with X's than you are your dd's, though.

And yes, I know you've told her she shouldn't do 'tame jokes' about people who aren't there, however innocuous she may think they are. But she should have a think about how she would feel, not if the rumour was about her, but simply if X was talking to three of her (dd's) friends saying 'ha ha, you had sex with SanityClause's DD', and they were all finding it highly amusing.

SanityClause Wed 02-Oct-13 19:26:57

Fair point Original, I will put that to her.

And I will go to the school, because whether DD is being bullied or whether it is a bit of each, I think it can only be good for DD if the school is made aware.

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