Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcomed With Open Arms (With a Knife in One Hand)

It is orientation for Youngest, an incoming middle school student. I am chatting with a friend whose son is at the same orientation. Parents' orientation for the school is to start shortly, which pegs us as interested moms not helicopter moms fretting whilst their offspring learn the ins and outs of middle school from well-developed teen girls and facial-hair-sporting teen boys.

We chat, catching up. She moved her two kids from the elementary school Youngest attended a couple of years ago. There was a lot of angst about that school back then. There was a lot of bitterness between supporters and opponents. You could try to keep above the fray and just go about the day-to-day business that is called "parenting as best you can" or you could fight on one side or the other. Her family opted to remove themselves from the equation and send the kids to a private school. It's been my experience that people who hated the school-without-borders (AKA lottery school/elitist school/racist school) couldn't care less if your kids went private. They just didn't want you at that public school.

So they left. No hard feelings. We make choices in the best interest of our kids, and we all go forward, making it up as we go.

They opted to have their son leave that school to enter the public middle school. I'm glad to have them around again. He's a great kid. She's a great woman. They're a great family.

Oh, but that's not the end of the story, right? That's the background.

We pick up the story again in the moments before the start of parent orientation at the middle school. A woman heavily -- heh -- involved with that lottery-school-that-is-no-more approached us, greeting me heartily. When the other mom, the friend I was talking to, greeted her as well, a chill descended. I swear, if I had them, my hackles would have risen.

Awkward minutes ensued. The recent arrival was just needling and poking at my friend. All she lacked was a stick. The glee that woman projected at the thought of my friend's son coming to the middle school was pure evil. When I tried to explain that anyone in their right mind would have sat out the last couple of years at that elementary school, the incredulous look I got was one that made me think I had another head growing out of my neck.

She went on her way -- not soon enough -- and I turned to my friend. I'm never really sure that what I think is happening in social situations is, in fact, actually happening. "Am I wrong," I asked, "or was that just a totally bizarre encounter?"

I felt quite Dr. Sheldon Cooper-esque when my friend assured me that all that weirdness was, in fact, really and truly weirdness.

I could start casting stones right about here. But I won't. I'll just mosey on my way, taking time to reassure my friend that I'm so glad her son and my son are at the same school again. Some people you're just happy to have around.

Others? Yeah. Not so much.

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