Friday, June 8, 2012

Feedback: Melanie Cruess

You can find Melanie and her
wisdom in a glass of wine

The mom types in this blog are so true!  But we are all, all of those moms at some point. And the objects of our Mommy Bear rage are not just stupid parents, but teachers and administrators as well.

I remember meeting with the Principal when Z was in 4th grade. He had been in a gifted program and they were building a spaghetti bridge.  He used some term for the construction (I can't remember now) that he learned on TV.  The teacher told him that was not a construction term. He countered, and she told him, in front of the whole class, that he must be an idiot.

That's the story I got from a teary ten year old that evening.  

I met with the teacher the next day to tell her that I thought she should consider a gentler approach, as she had embarrassed my son. I made it clear that I would not be taking my complaint to the office, nor were there any harsh feelings as long as she we more considerate in her approach.

I wanted to smack her, but I had thought long and hard about what I would say and was quite controlled.  

I told her I assumed she was overwhelmed at the time and spoke out of frustration.  She agreed, and confessed that she had told Zach he must be an idiot. She apologized, shook my hand, and assured me it would not happen again.  

The next day I got a call to come to the office. When I arrived the Vice Principal and Principal had Z in a corner in a chair and were standing over him, telling him not to go exaggerating events and conversations to his parents. Apparently, the teacher had immediately taken my meeting to the higher ups to cover her ass. That I got. What I didn't understand was why these supposedly intelligent adults that should have been looking out for my son's welfare were using intimidation.

Not with this mommy bear!  

I bolted to the corner, brushed past them both, sat next to my sobbing son and demanded they both take a seat too. The Principal, backtracking, immediately proceeded to tell me that when a great amount of blood quickly rushes into our brains, we misunderstand circumstances or conversations. This is what had happened to Z, she explained.

My jaw dropped.

"So this great blood rush in your brain is what has caused you to behave so inappropriately with my son?  To use intimidation tactics?  To act like bullies?"  Needless to say, there was lots of "Uh, uh" and "No, you misunderstand".  I stood, told them if they had a reason to ever speak with Z again privately for any reason, I would need to be present. I then took Z home. As we drove to get an ice cream and soothe our anger and tears, he said simply, "Thanks, Mom.  I was frightened," I stood up for him when he needed it.   

Years later Z told me he knew I had his back that day.  He also told me he held his head high when he returned the next day.  I had offered to walk him in and he had said no.  

You don't always need to do so much for them, as to show them. There will be times where you need to act, but usually, you need to move on, instead of mouthing off. 

My best friend and I, another mother of two, used to bitch over other parents, as we were always room moms, PTO execs, etc.  We decided long ago, over a great deal of alcohol, that if you hold your head high with confidence, your kids will be fearless and confident too.  

You worry over small things, they will be wary and unsure.  You forgive when it is not easy to do so, they will be humane and kind.  You act out of rage, they will learn aggression.  You behave in a jealous manner, they will not trust.  We both learned our actions speak more than we know and much more than what we say.  

That day in the Principal's office I did the right thing.  Many other times, however, I barked at some parent and realized I had not. I let my desire to always protect and win go too far.

Don't sweat the little stuff.  You will be the one that remembers it most anyway. Your kids, like the good, untarnished souls they are, will forgive and forget the small stuff.  If it's big, fight and fight to win.  If it's not, show them you can be better than the situation. Set the stage now for picking worthy battles, because you will need that restraint and wisdom much more later.  

With that said, I am NOT an exemplary parent.  I am not always even a good one. I am not wise.  Hell, most of the time I feel like I am punting in a game in which I have not been informed of the rules. The one thing I have going for me at this point is experience to draw upon and the knowledge that I will never be done learning the duties of my job.  Everyone has to learn to parent the hard way and all you can do is try to keep your head above water.  

The above post was sent as feedback from Melanie Cruess, mother of two young men, aged 16 and 20, as a response to my request for advice from a veteran mom.  I can’t thank you enough, Melanie, for letting me share your story.  I am relieved to find that all this is normal, and I continue to be humbled by the challenge of this journey.

And for the rest of you, know that if you send me an e-mail, you might find it onstage… 


  1. LOL!!! I have you in my mail subscription so I am reading in reverse order. It's too funny that this was next based on the comment I left on the previous blog post. Anyway this post was great advice and reassurance.

    1. Thanks, Kenya! I had to post this, to show that this is an integral part of motherhood, and to show that we need to speak up, but not all the time.


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