26 Oct
Mean Girls Part Deux: The Co-worker/Mom Remix

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

A person who worked for me quit in a very disruptive way. She wasn’t happy with her review, blew it way out of proportion, and quit. Although she would have been fired anyway.

Unfortunately, we live in the same town and our children are in the same grade, albeit different classrooms. And now she is bad mouthing me, and the company I work for, to other parents. I don’t want to waste my time explaining this situation to all the people we have in common. But it is making me really uncomfortable and I don’t want my daughter to suffer because of this woman’s big mouth.

I can’t approach her since she is pretty harsh. Should I make sure people know my side or just ignore it and hope it just goes away? I don’t feel like playing the blame game.

Signed,

Bullied by Bad Bad Leroy Brown’s Wife

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Dear Bullied by Leroy’s Wife,

You certainly could “fight fire with fire” as they say, or rather “ridiculous immature mean girl behavior with the same”: Tomato. Tomahto. (It sounds way better in my head.) Should you choose this option, it’s obvious that you must hire a van with a megaphone to drive slowly from one end of the town to the other while playing on repeat: “Mrs. Brown is a Hobag and also probably has Syphilis.”

The last part is crucial since Syphilis, if left untreated for too long, can infect the brain and make someone go crazy, which is obviously what happened to Mrs. Brown here (implied).

The next step in this war would be to hang signs all over town that state: “Do you want to get Syphilis and go crazy like Mrs. Brown?” or “It’s possible Mrs. Brown killed her first husband and buried him in her front yard.” The beauty of this is that it doesn’t matter if this woman has an STD or was even previously married, what matters is that you have created mass doubt.

And this will lead everyone in your community to wonder, when Mrs. Brown speaks,   “Is it the venereal disease talking? Or, will she kill me too and hide me under her prized rose bushes?” Thus making it unlikely that they will hear anything she has to say. Of course, this plan could also backfire and make you look like a crazy person with a vendetta. And if you saw V for Vendetta you know you do NOT want to be associated with that cinematic mess!

So onto your other option: taking the high road. This is not an easy path to take, but certainly, the one that will leave you feeling and looking your best. It’s an especially dicey situation when personal and professional lives crash into one another. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t say mean things about her behind her back and, if she really is as unapproachable as she seems, don’t engage her in an argument.

This woman has obviously never matured beyond the tactics used in high school. She’s hurt and angry about losing her job (and probably pretty upset with herself for the awful way she handled it) and she has apparently decided to take it out on you. You are an easy target since you were her boss and you both live in the same town. The majority of people will see her mean-spirited talk and bitterness for what it is and those that don’t, well, they haven’t progressed beyond high school either so let them go.

As for your daughter, explain the situation to her so that she can be prepared at school should anything happen with Mrs. Leroy’s daughter. Other than that, she too will have to take the high road. It won’t be easy but it will make her stronger in the end. However, if it becomes a real bullying problem (a la Nellie Olson from little House on the Prairie. What? It’s still on repeats!) then it’s time to talk to the school administrators and have a sit down with this woman and her daughter. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But perhaps you should have a minivan with a megaphone on retainer just in case?

Good Luck!

Tonya, TMH

9 Responses to “Mean Girls Part Deux: The Co-worker/Mom Remix”

10.26.11#1

Comment by Plano Mom.

Great Mom comment redux: “If you keep your head held high, it’s a lot easier to see who/what is in the gutter.”

10.26.11#2

Comment by Ken.

Great advice. I guess the high road makes sense…but I sure like the idea of “probably has syphilis.” This woman sounds crazy.

10.26.11#3

Comment by N and Em's mom.

I went through the same thing with my husband’s ex. She would tell them her tall tale of woe, and I would get the stink-eye and cold shoulder for a few months, but eventually most people caught on. I never said a word in my defense, and it was hard. There was one “friend” of my daughter’s that said something about me on the playground to my daughter. It upset her that I would not defend myself or allow her to do the same. Instead we chose 2 responses- the standard “Whatever?!?” and “This is a boring conversation” while walking away. For the adults in your life go with “I can’t discuss XXX’s employment with my company for legal reasons.” It keeps you on the high ground, but says volumes.

10.26.11#4

Comment by kokopuff.

I disagree with not saying a word in your defense. At some point, you have to teach your children that you are worth standing up for and so are they. What’s wrong with defending yourself?

You don’t have to bad mouth the other person, but you can certainly point out that they are spreading gossip and being malicious in repeating lies.

N and Em's mom Reply:

I totally agree with you. The word defend was a poor choice of words. In my case, I wasn’t proactive at damage control. Most people who do not know you well will not walk up and say, “XXX said this about you. What is your side of the story?” People who do that are sh*t-stirrers and like to be part of the drama. My friends knew what was going on. I was not going to go up to every person that my husband’s ex was talking to and try to get equal time. I grew up in a small town. Everybody knows your business, but the flip side is most of the people probably already know the former employee is “difficult.”

As far as the kids go, it’s not their business, and my step-daughter was in my daughter’s class. The remark directed at my daughter came from another child. The letter writer’s daughter may get comments from other kids. Bullies never get what they want when you say, “Whatever?!?” and walk away. Kids arguing on behalf of their parents is an unwinnable fight. In my case if the other kid couldn’t let it go there would have been a trip to the school.

However, for the letter writer, things are even more difficult. Accusing the former employee of lying could have legal ramifications. She should document any contact she has with the former employee to protect herself and the company. The less said the better if things go south and lawyers get involved.

10.26.11#5

Comment by Meredith L..

Hi, Letter Writer.

Clearly, things are being said within your hearing range. I think a simple, “Well, I’m sorry she’s so upset,” should suffice. It allows you to address the problem head-on without being confrontational.

And, like most people have pointed out, any normal human being will see her childish behavior for what it is: petty and bitter lashing out. Anyone who doesn’t see that is just bored.

10.27.11#6

Comment by vodka tonic.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Call her up and apologize for how things ended “so badly.” Invite her out for coffee. Let her kvetch. Let her help you “understand” how she feels. Nod sympathetically and “understand” that with how “unhappy” she was at work, “this was for the best.” Let her believe that she is destined for bigger and better things. Trust me, it will take the wind out of her bitter, catty sails.

Plano Mom Reply:

That’s a wonderful idea, EXCEPT she was her boss. She cannot have that kind of lovely talk, at least not without recording it or bringing a witness.

Crazy people require tender care.

10.30.11#7

Comment by Kay.

There is one other option. Depending on what the woman is saying, she could be violating her previous employers rights. A lot of companies have stuff that you agree to and never read, she could have signed a “I didn’t read the fine print and can’t say a word about my previous job EVER upon punishment of lawsuit” agreement. The writer might want to let her supervisor know of the witch!

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