FOMO! Teacher is talking to their fellow teacher without inviting me

A message board post from Etiquette Hell:

Hello. DH and I have found ourselves in a predicament involving another family. Because we feel emotional about the situation and don’t wish to come off childish due to that, we could really use some non-biased insight as to how to move forward in a civilized way that will possibly still allow us to remain acquaintances and occasionally have play-dates with these people. Why? Because the other family’s kids are genuinely nice and we don’t encounter much of that in our rural neck of the woods.

BG: We met this family in our area, who we have a lot in common with, and eventually got together for a play-date/dinner. While we found the parents to be mostly arrogant and condescending, we thought the children had excellent interactions together. Some time later we sent a thank you note and a reply email arrived immediately inviting us back. Eventually (last week) we were able to coordinate our schedules enough to visit again.

We’ve visited with them only twice so far. The first time we were over, the mom (Marge) was really pushing a particular school for our almost highschooler (Ashley) that Marge teaches at and all of her kids attend but we knew about this style of schooling a little bit and didn’t entertain the option for our family. During the second and most recent visit, she again brought up the school almost as soon as we arrived and was able to convince me to research it further and as I learned more I became very interested in the school. She loaned me a couple textbooks to thumb through but she needs them back within the next 2 months for her child to use.

That evening, DH and I discussed the school and one of the selling points for us was Ashley and Marge’s child (Bella) who get along great, would be in the same class. Another thing was that Marge also offered to provide transportation since the school is a long drive for us and they live so close to us and will be driving out there anyways. However, those two things were not the major driving factors (no pun intended), the most important thing was the curriculum.

The next day Marge called (per my request) because I had a few questions left before we could make our final decision. She was extremely short and testy which sat wrong with me because I am by nature very open and warm (I do realize my writing style doesn’t necessarily convey that but I’m trying to be direct and not overly wordy here). Afterwards, I didn’t know if I could deal with this person on a regular basis and be on the receiving end of any favors (transportation). But, after another discussion with DH we decided we should directly speak to the teacher (Jeff) that Ashley would have and make our final decision following that. I very politely emailed Marge a request for the teacher’s phone number as I couldn’t obtain it any other way. She obliged. We thought that would be the end of that and we would call Jeff this week.

Late last night, I received an email from Marge stating she’s bummed to have to report that Jeff’s class has become suddenly full. She also forwarded me the conversation between Jeff and herself. Apparently she felt the need to take it upon herself to give Jeff a heads-up that we’d be calling and went into detail about our family while simultaneously stating she doesn’t know us that well. She summarized Ashley’s personality and pointed out her struggles with a certain subject and that she offered to help us with that because, she is a self proclaimed expert in said subject. Then she mentioned how we (the parents) wanted Ashley and Bella to be in the same class and Ashley would be riding to school with them. The “heads-up” was concluded with her telling Jeff to give HER a call if he has any questions. Jeff’s side of the conversation was where he very straight forwardly informed Marge that his class is now full when it wasn’t just two days prior but, that’s fine. These things happen. /BG

DH and I were both instantly upset that she treated us like little kids she needs to speak for because we’re apparently not capable of describing our own situation. I particularly took exception to Marge character labeling our daughter who she really doesn’t know. Another “where do we send our child to school” discussion between DH and I ensued. Obviously this experience didn’t help us to want to send Ashley to that school but there were other factors that also led us down the path to pursue other education thus eliminating that school altogether such as the expense that we can’t quite justify.

As I stated in the intro, we do wish to be civil and possibly carry on as acquaintances but also feel the need to inform her that it was inappropriate and an overstepping of boundaries. We worry that if we don’t she will always think of us as a pet project. I suspect that one major reason she’s handled us this way is she’s 10-15 yrs our senior, however, we are in our mid 30’s so we’re not all that young either. I mention this fact because some people have a tendency to treat those younger than themselves as inferiors.

I still need to return the books to Marge as well so, will have to face her sometime soon. Any input on how to respond to her email and deal with her henceforth is appreciated.

You’re right that emotions make one childish and that you need my non-biased insight. I hope I can salvage this situation with these nice kids. How big of you to do so when this family hasn’t given you the respect of doing things the way you secretly wanted.

Marge really likes her job as a teacher for this school. She enjoys the place she works at and would recommend it to others. That alone makes her pushy. Telling people about your job in an excited way is gaudy at best. Any normal person would hate their job and tell another parent’s that all schools are the same. Going out of her way to loan some textbooks? Obviously another trap.

Marge would offer the availability of her daughter’s friendship and transportation for your convenience. Terrible person alert.

You asked Marge to discuss your questions. She’s a teacher at this school. So you really asked her to call because it’s her job. Which she should do better.

Also congrats on trying to be not to write wordy here. I can imagine that normal warmness usually requires the length of several novels. So to sacrifice that for brevity – since both at the same time would be impossible – is commendable. Anyway, yeah she should have done her job nicer, and also include more transportation and more free books.

So yeah you ask for the teacher’s phone number. This is her coworker and giving away your coworker’s phone number makes sense because you wanted it. The weird part is that she would talk to her coworker about a work matter. A teacher talking to another teacher about a student? That definitely must breach some type of education equivalent of attorney-client privilege. Well, sure attorneys are allowed to talk privately to other attorneys. Yet with teachers, it should be totally secret.

As a teacher what does she know about kids? Let alone your kid in such a short interaction. Sure, in the same amount of time you were able to tell that Marge is arrogant, condescending, and pushy. You’re highly skilled at noticing the qualities of adults and putting them in a negative light. Meanwhile, Marge tries to convey to her fellow teacher about a kid she’s barely met the same amount of time as you. Then share information that she has. Given by you.

The weirdest part is that she would communicate with someone. Someone she works with. And then offer to talk to them if they wanted to. That’s WEIRD!

The co-worker should not have any questions about the referral. We all know each parents main job involves managing all inner workings of this school. That’s what makes this school so special.

As you say, Marge speaking steals your ability to speech. It’s like when Ursula stole Ariel’s voice in the little mermaid. Once Marge speaks, you are now a child. This is a sea witch-like power that Marge has been gifted by the ancient gods. If you were to talk to Jeff now, you now cannot speak for your own situation. Jeff as a sane person would assume that’s Marge’s job now because she mentioned a few passing details. Marge as a sane person would think you weird for elaborating. Most of all, you’d be terrible if you had a different perspective about your own child. There’s really nothing you can do. Helplessness ensues.

It matters especially now since the school is completely booked and none of this even matters. If only Marge didn’t control every aspect of your life, your child’s life, and that school. You can’t speak up because you’re now reasonably a young child in Marge’s custody.

If only there was some way for you to create words with your mouth. Alas, that option has been stolen.

You could treat yourself as an equal to others. But not while Marge thinks you’re inferior – which is definitely what she must think.

Otherwise, she would have guessed that doing what you asked meant doing what you asked specifically without having a mind of her own. She’s not allowed to choose subjects to speak about without your permission. Who’s the child now, Marge?

Send her a fake note with something like “Thanks for your help! I’ll give Jeff a call.” Then fake call Jeff fake thanking him for his fake time.

You might even return the books with a fake note like “Thank you so much for lending me your books.” Then pretend in the moment to be as pretend grateful as is pretend possible.

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