I hate to be misrepresented. I am sure everyone does, but for me it is up there as one of my biggest pet peeves. I am not a confrontational person, but when I catch wind that someone has said something about me that is untrue; either directly to me or to others I feel an extremely compelling need to set the record straight. I make an effort to keep to myself, to be kind and pay attention to how others want to be treated. I try to not repeat stories that aren’t true or cast a negative light on others. I assume that this is how others operate as well.
Over the last couple of years I’ve become aware that this isn’t a universal plan for others. I’ve realized that there are a couple of ways of responding to information that is wrong. That not everyone thinks it is best to defend yourself or clarify what happened. That for some people the better alternative is to not even acknowledge to others that it happened and let time wipe the slate clean. This does not come naturally to me at all. When someone doesn’t get something I try to reiterate it. The problem with that is just because I think I’m “clarifying” something it doesn’t mean I actually have. I can’t control what the other person heard. And if the issue is heated, or turns that direction, then there is an even better chance that they won’t see my point of view later. And ultimately all the clarifying did was to provide more fuel for the fire.
The first time not publically acknowledging a problem was suggested to me I was seriously bothered. They were firm in their stance and by default I had to proceed. I felt like I had been wronged by the information that was being spread about me and I wanted to clarify what had actually happened and my part in it. To set the record straight. I think because of that I had a hard time seeing the merits of this approach. Certainly, I would in no way claim that my historical attempts at clarification had been universally successful, often they damaged or even severed relationships. I think even with that though I felt like the truth- my truth was more important.
As time went on, I kept getting this advice in a variety of settings and from a variety of people that I consider pretty even keel in their manner. To just let the issue go, to not acknowledge it. Over time, I’ve been able to see some of the merits in it. That by repeatedly going back in to state what I felt I had to say again and again, there were just situations that weren’t getting any better. And in some of the original situations where this was advised, as time went on those relationships did seem to mend.
Recently we had planned the Quail’s birthday party. For once, our reservations had been made a little too early to actually hand out the formal invitations. So a few weeks passed and as I ran in to classmates and friends, I let them know when the time and date of the party was and that a formal invitation would be coming when we got closer. We had hoped include our family friends and more of the Quail’s classmates this time.
The week before I handed out the invitations I found an invitation in the Quail’s cubby inviting her to a party at the home of her classmate on the same date and starting an hour later than ours was scheduled for. I was surprised since this mother had been one of the ones I had mentioned our party too and she had not indicated at that time that she was planning her own for that date and time. When I saw her a few days later I told her we were sorry that we couldn’t join them but that we had reserved the gymnastics center a month ago and with my impending delivery we couldn’t reschedule at this point without risking having to cancel the party or my missing it altogether.
Her response, “I know, I tried to get my invitations out before yours.”
Let’s just sum it up the next few days Momma Bear was in a rage and stomped around telling the story to anyone that would listen. I was in a real quandary as I could see what was about to happen. At this point if I handed out the invitations to the Quail’s party at school, it was going to look like we were the ones rudely ignoring the other kid’s party. Lovey and I debated changing the party, not inviting the class or putting a note of explanation for this social faux paus in the invites. As I prepared the Quail’s invitations I even went so far as to make that note, cut it out and tape it in to the first few before I talked to another mom about it who once again made the suggestion that the higher road in this situation was to do nothing. Just to proceed with the original plans and not even acknowledge what this woman had done. I stewed on it for a while again. I know I would have felt vindicated spelling to the entire class what had happened, and I worried that there could be social ramifications to the Quail for this.
I think one angle I hadn’t considered in this and other situations though is that what was happening really wasn’t as obvious to the innocent bystanders as it was in my mind. I was embarrassed by the scene, but that didn’t mean that the majority of the class and their families had any idea what had happened. And really, this wouldn’t be the best introduction to new families either. The fact that this woman had stooped to stealing a birthday party time for a 3 year old was not my issue and I didn’t need to try to level the playing field.
I left the note out. In reality, we’ve been doing birthday parties for the last 5 years and really we don’t get more than one or two RSVPs from paper invitations anyway. People would have read our sorry story, but it wouldn’t have changed the predictable outcome of only one or two people showing up for the actual party out of the school crowd.
Fortunately, we’ve learned over the last 5 years that evites are the way to go and our family friends had been invited that way and the majority showed up. One of the school mom’s that did come mentioned to me that she had spoken with the other mom and she was upset that she had only had 2 RSVPs. I felt sad for her. As far as I knew, it was their first party and I remember that feeling the first time no one responded to the paper invitations. Incredibly disheartening. Hopefully they had a set of family and friends that were able to make their little boys big day special as well.
In hind site- I’m glad I let it go. That I didn’t go out and try to rectify the situation and proceeded with our plans as they were. Ultimately, the Quail had a great party. I hope that time will work its magic here as well and eventually it will get a little less awkward each time I run in to her at pick-up.
In hind site sometimes, it’s best to just live and let live.
Corner view is a weekly Wednesday date hosted originally hosted by Jane, currently by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it in photographic or writerly in form from around the world: Jane, Dana, Bonny, Joyce, Ian, Francesca, Theresa, Cate, Kasia, Otli, Trinsch, Isabelle, Janis, Kari, jgy, Lise, Dorte, McGillicutty, Sunnymama, Ibb, Kelleyn, Ninja, Sky, RosaMaria, Juniper, Valerie, Sammi, Cole, Don, WanderChow, FlowTops, Tania, Tzivia, Kristin, Laura, Guusje, Susanna, Juana, Elsa, Nadine