Forgiveness please, these will probably not be my last thoughts on this topic but I think it’s time to move on. My dwelling here hasn’t been very productive toward a reasonable approach to prevention, it’s more venting and raging.
The timing of the Phoebe Prince case coincided with a minor incident on the internet with my younger son. This was particularly unsettling to me because he’s not on any social networking site at this time. As the facts came to light about how ubiquitous and unrelenting the bullying and torture of Phoebe Prince’s tormenters plagued her, it was announced on Facebook that my younger son had a new (first) girlfriend and she posted her relationship status. It was sweet but way, way, way too broadcasted as his girlfriend has about 6 billion friends on Facebook.
Comments were initially positive and congratulatory until this kid who barely knows my son wrote: “I thought he was gay!!!” The next ten comments were all about how this kid thought my 12-year-old son was gay–all out there for everyone, anyone to continue the thread on his gayness despite the fact that his new girlfriend announced their relationship.
I saw red when I read it (she “friended” me, I wasn’t fishing– remember? Thirteen year olds “friend” everyone). I took these comments very hard. This kid, this… little puke had no reason to jump in, he wasn’t friends with my son, they had lived across the street from each other but it just never took. It had been years since there was any contact. I was livid that he took it to the public forum. It was cowardly, a hit-and-run, a cheap shot that continued with his additional comments.
I know I would have been angry to see that had I not known about Phoebe Prince Seeing it after I knew what evolved with her, I was ballistic.
I would want to know if my sons ever did anything remotely close to what the mean girls and boy from South Hadley did. I don’t believe they would ever act that way and that might be what made Phoebe’s heartless bullying go on for so long–not one person who could have any influence on the actions of those who relentlessly tortured her were aware enough to put a stop to it.
I decided to talk to this kid’s mother. I knew her, we had attempted friendship with our sons (failed) and had attempted friendship with each other (failed miserably). She was a helicopter mom when we lived across the street from each other. She strongly believed there was peril everywhere! Her kids were prey to strangers who drove by too slowly (I thought it was because of the plastic cones she set in the street telling drivers Caution! Go Slow! Children Playing!!!). I wish I could have reassured her that anyone crazy enough to ever attempt kidnapping her kids would have surely returned them within about four minutes.
The friendship foundered because I found her totally two-faced and she found me totally boring so the parting of ways was totally mutual.
It was nerve-wracking to drive up to her house, I was sure she’d deny it so I printed out the whole thread of comments for her to review. I hadn’t formulated anything beyond giving her the comments. I really didn’t want a fake, parentally forced apology from her kid, I just wanted her to know what her son is doing on-line and have her tell me she would make sure her son knew others were aware of his crappy comments. The consequences of his behavior were for her to decide.
She wasn’t home and my old neighbor informed me that she had actually left her husband and wasn’t living there anymore. No, the neighbor didn’t know where she went and yes, the kids are still there unless she came to pick them up.
What did I do? I went stalker-creepy and looked her up on Facebook. There she was! All her information available to anyone who looked her up, no filters. The whole saga of her “not feelin’ it” for her husband, “makin’ a hard choice” a couple of weeks later, relationship status went from “Married” to “It’s complicated” then countless of posts about where she would be after work, who was “Hott!” how much she missed “gettin’ any action– not that she was gettin’ any when she was married!” Perhaps her lack of good fortune in love was due to her perpetual habit of dropping her G at the end of EVERY word ending with “ing”.
This mini-drama ends with nothing really happening. My son’s “relationship” lasted the predicted 2 weeks of pre-teen romance. Thankfully he is back to being best friends with his ex, which is what they were prior to taking it up to the “relationship” level. I haven’t seen anything about my son’s gayness since that one time. I’ve been able to talk to him about the Phoebe Prince case in general terms. And I haven’t run into this boy’s mother but I still have the print-out of his comments. Unfortunately I don’t really think it will help and might even cause a backlash effect. It brings to light how little prepared I am for these issues.