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AIBU about this parent becoming overinvolved and pissing people off?

(40 Posts)
GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 15:52:36

NC in case I am identifiable. Poo pouffe, gluezilla, penis beaker, etc.

I am involved in a community group for children and a few times a year we run fundraising events. Sometimes it's for the children to do activities, sometimes for charities. Occasionally, we need to ask for help from parents because the ratio requirements of adult to child are higher when you're out and about than they are when you're in the usual meeting place. It's difficult sometimes to get a commitment from anyone to help. From a potential pool of 50-60 mums and dads you'll maybe get 3 or 4 offers of help. For this reason I may be being unreasonable in being annoyed at what's happened. Generally speaking, we are grateful when we get any offers of help.

Yesterday, we were running a fundraising event and a couple of the parents had agreed to stay, others were dropping their children off to help (this is fine, no issue with this at all). One mother in particular volunteered to help for a short while and tbh as mean as it sounds the adults who run the group gave a collective sigh.

The mother is princess pushy. Her DD has to have the best of everything, she has to be involved in everything and as such a lot of the interactions we have with her as part of the group are trying to placate her 'pushiness'. Her DD is a difficult child to have as part of a group, but manageable. She is demanding but certainly not the worst! As part of this fundraising event, the mother offered to make something to sell. We knew there would be a catch (because there always is with this woman) but we didn't have a whole lot of choice but to accept (can you imagine trying to explain why she couldn't?!).

Yesterday, she turns up with her creation and proceeded to try to take over the whole event. She changed things one of the regular helpers had put a lot of hard work into, refused to allow the children to handle some of the things we had arranged for them to do and was generally rude and bossy. She would probably not see herself this way, she would think she is kooky and energetic. She couldn't just turn up and help as we needed it. She was rude and talked a million miles an hour.

AIBU to be annoyed with this woman even though she did put some effort into making something for the event? Do you think we have to be gracious and accept her help without a word even though it pisses off all the other adults who give their time weekly? We are reaching the end of our collective tether with her.

jeee Sat 10-Oct-15 16:03:02

It's impossible to tell if YABU.

It's quite possible the woman is a complete nightmare.....

But, it's also possible you and your fellow organisers ask for volunteers - but only want it on your terms. Many years ago, when I was an enthusiastic parent of a Year R pfb, I went to the PTA. It seemed cliquey - but, hey, it was my first time. Then the whinging started; the work they put into sending out letters on behalf of the PTA. Naively, I said, 'Oh, I don't mind doing that.' I was actually shouted at. And, although I laugh about it now, at the time (remember - it was my pfb) I actually shed a few tears at home blush.

laffymeal Sat 10-Oct-15 16:07:31

It's difficult to tell. Perhaps you're all a bit precious about the way you do things and resent her different approach which may be just as valid as yours, but you're all a bit cliquey and don't like her DD much so you feel as though she's a PITA and wish she'd bugger off.

I feel a bit sorry for her tbh.

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:13:23

Thanks Jeee.

The woman is a complete nightmare, but I guess our response to her is what I'm wondering about (if it's reasonable or not).

To be clear, she did not need to stay and we didn't request that she did. Sometimes at events we do need extra bodies or the events simply can't go ahead and the children miss out. This time we knew we'd be okay in that respect. What we asked for was donations for things to sell to raise funds. We made it clear that if parents and children were able to help on the day they would be welcome to, and that no parent needed to stay with their child unless they wanted to. The mother was no obligated to do anything and she wasn't approached personally at any point.

None of the adults would ever be outwardly rude to anyone and so it's possible this woman has got the impression that her behaviour is acceptable (can't see how anyone can be that way and not realise how they are seen, but it's possible I suppose).

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:17:04

laffy, it's not that we don't like her DD. She can just be a difficult child when part of a group. This is almost certainly down to her mother being the way she is, and she is manageable anyway and is far from the worst child in the world!

It's not really a case of it being a different approach, although I can see how that may have come across. She offered to contribute something to this fundraising event and one of the regular helpers (not a parent, a CRB'd 'official' volunteer) had busted her backside to organise it. Pushy mother flew in and decided because she had made something for the event, she was entitled to change things she had previously had no involvement in. That's not a different approach, that's downright rude.

theycallmemellojello Sat 10-Oct-15 16:19:30

You're being too vague to judge really - you just say that she was annoying and took over, without saying how! But I have to say that you come across as unreasonable simply because you bring up the behaviour of her DD, which is completely irrelevant. In general, I think that the way forward with events like this is to have a clear management structure. You don't make clear whether you were in charge at this event, or if not you, then who was. But I do think that if there wasn't someone with the authority to say, this is how we're doing things, then it isn't going to be obvious to an individual volunteer that it is not ok for them to, for example, decide that an adult should do the job a kid is doing. So I'd say that in future you need to make it clearer who is in charge, and also give volunteers the opportunity with management and decision making ahead of time, through some kind of organised route.

Murfles Sat 10-Oct-15 16:20:26

So, you were all happy for her to make items to raise funds but didn't want her to stay? I feel sorry for her. Pushy or not at least she made an effort.

RachelZoe Sat 10-Oct-15 16:25:06

Sounds a bit cliquey to me. It's about fundraising, if her stuff sold and you made money, then who cares.

We made it clear that if parents and children were able to help on the day they would be welcome to, and that no parent needed to stay with their child unless they wanted to.

So what's the problem then?

You still aren't saying what she actually did that was so irksome to you.

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:26:36

mellojello - I was jointly in charge along with one other person. This is how the meetings are run, and all the parents know this. If it helps (and I'm not sure if it does), this is a Brownie group and we are all volunteers. I mentioned the DD because I've been on MN a really long time and certainly didn't want to be accused of drip feeding, as well as trying to explain what an impact the mother has on the DD's behaviour in group. That was it really.

It was all organised really well, until pushy mother 'accidentally' lost part of something we needed to run it the way it was arranged. Sorry for the vagueness here, but trying not to make it totally identifiable. I also believe, although in the interests of honesty I have no proof, that she would've withdrawn her contribution at the last minute if things weren't done as she liked (would've been too late to source a replacement for the thing she made). This will I'm sure sound like a drip feed but others thinks this is too vague!

Floralnomad Sat 10-Oct-15 16:27:25

I think it's too hard to judge as you have been so vague but why do you and the other usual organisers volunteers let her take over and change things ,surely all you have to do is say no we are doing it this way or no I've told them they can do that or whatever it is - it does sound a bit like you let her meddle so that you can moan about her later .

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:32:33

RachelZoe - that's another thing. She decided that the thing she made needed to be sold for £100 which did actually leave it unsold. It's difficult to be any clearer than that without saying something which will be too identifiable.

When she volunteered to help, she said she would make something and drop it off. The volunteer who was organising this part of the event was expecting to be able to sell it for approx £30. Pushy mother's refusal to allow it to be sold for less than £100 made it remain unsold and she 'lost' something the volunteer had created to be able to sell it for less.

Sorry for this still being vague but struggling to stay unidentifiable.

PacificMouse Sat 10-Oct-15 16:33:03

YANBU

It IS very tricky as you will need help at other occasions and might appreciate her help too but some people have the knack to make everything about how they think it should be done wo even thinking about the others there.

The case you are talking about is one of them. Her idea might have been great BUT you don't change an organisation like this wo talking to the person who did the organising in the first place. You don't take over either.
If she is that good at organising, then she shuld be doing it herself.

Would it be possible to
1- clearly state no parents needed in the situation you describe when you don't need helpers (and helpers can actually be a hindrance anyway)
2- give her specific tasks to do that she can do wo too much impact on the rest of the oirganisation (ie man x stall for the day)
3- be extremely clear on what sort of help you need, so not can someone come over to help but we need one person to do xx, two people to do yy?

The fact she came with something for the event doesn't have any bearing imo.

What I would be careful about is the fact you are anoyed with her so every little thing is taken the wrong way. She might be talking very fast but it isn't a crime for example (I do get it wouold be getting on your nerves if she is already being annoying anyway!).

PacificMouse Sat 10-Oct-15 16:35:35

Sorry xpost.

From what you said afterwards, you need to be EXTREMELY CLEAR as to what help you need.

As to 'having lost something another member had done' shockshock

theycallmemellojello Sat 10-Oct-15 16:39:06

Well, if you were in charge you need to be firmer! I don't get why she was allowed to take over. If you are organising volunteers they need to be told what needs doing. If you just tell them vaguely to 'volunteer' without guidance they might not do what you want. I reckon the lesson is you need to toughen up and run a tighter ship. She did have the right to set the price for her own item though I think, even if it was unrealistic!

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:39:12

Pacific - you have nailed her completely. I can only assume you know someone similar?

I think in future we will have to be clearer about the volunteer 'requirements'. It's difficult because you're grateful on the one hand for people wanting to lend a hand but it's not lending a hand if they're steaming in and pushing their views on people. We do have some fantastic parents who help sometimes because they really do help and not take over!

Thankfully this woman is one of only two difficult parents we have so I should be pleased really!

GruntledOne Sat 10-Oct-15 16:40:31

If you were in charge, couldn't you have intervened? Surely you or someone could have said, for instance, that actually the children were supposed to be using the things she forbade them from handling, and that the things she changed were meant to be the way she found them and shouldn't be changed, and maybe pointed her towards some task where she couldn't do any harm?

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:42:52

I don't disagree with the pricing thing in principle mellojello, but we had no idea she was going to do that (yes, I know, I will be clearer in future). She had said she was going to drop off, she didn't give an indication she was going to set a price. By the time she did say it, it was too late for us to get a replacement and besides she had already 'lost' something our regular volunteer had made. She basically made it impossible for us to make any money from what she had made. Not sure what she was thinking there.

WorraLiberty Sat 10-Oct-15 16:43:50

I'm sorry but it sounds very badly managed.

Why are the people in charge allowing her to behave like this?

You/they need to grow a backbone (not mean horribly) and tell her exactly what is expected of her, and what she is not allowed or expected to do.

That way everyone knows where they stand.

WorraLiberty Sat 10-Oct-15 16:44:07

*meant

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:45:34

We (I and the other person in charge) did try to say something to her but by that point it was really difficult to effect any change from a confrontation. I'm not really a fan of doing something like that in front of the girls anyway if I can help it.

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:50:11

Worra, I would agree with you but everybody else understood what was expected of them and anybody else volunteering deferred any decisions to us. I can see I've given the impression this was rather chaotic but it's really only this one woman who threw the spanner in the works.

The things she kept trying to stop the children doing was taking the money.

GabiSolis Sat 10-Oct-15 16:50:36

Taking the money = taking payment, not stealing!

Floralnomad Sat 10-Oct-15 16:51:03

Then you take her to one side and say it ,nobody is suggesting you do it in front of the children .

theycallmemellojello Sat 10-Oct-15 16:51:54

I don't think that you need to tell her horribly - in fact you should avoid this. Just say, ok thanks for volunteering, this is what we need doing, this is how we want it done. I don't think anyone is suggesting getting into an argument.

Changedtoday Sat 10-Oct-15 16:54:41

YANBU

How to politely avoid a repeat situation? Can you marshall and organise your volunteers in advance, thereby maybe not accepting any more offers of help from her specifically? At the start/before spell out exactly what is required and who is in control of the event? And stick to it even if that means telling pushy mum not to interfere? You mention your worry about her swanning of home with her 'thing' but since it wasn't sold is that not the same outcome? How do other parents view her?

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