and she was all hyped up after seeing Michael Phelps.
Liv was also looking forward to seeing one of her friends from Montessori: Mandy. In her grade school experience at Montessori, she and Mandy had been pretty good friends. Mandy comes from a big family and is the youngest, so lots of noise at her house. She loved to spend the day and/or night at our house, commented often on how wonderfully serene our home was.
I always liked Mandy. She was the girl in Liv's class who was always in the middle. She wasn't particularly pretty, didn't stand out intellectually, and she was chubby...which I know was difficult for her (especially when her mother would drop her off at our house for a sleepover and remind me in front of her daughter not to let her eat too many sweets) so...she had my heart. She was a big reader and she and Liv traded books back and forth a lot and I thought that she had sort of a droll sense of humor in someone so young.
As I said, I always liked her.
The Montessori that Liv attended only went up to 6th grade, so it was bittersweet last year when everyone split up. Liv ended up going to a parochial school with her then bestie, Constance. Mandy went to a public school in one of the west (uppercrust) areas of the city. The girls stayed in touch off and on until about Thanksgiving and then it tapered off as they made new friends. But, Liv always considered Mandy one of her friends.
So, when we heard that Liv's swim team (the sharks) was to play Mandy's swim team (the schooners), we wondered if Mandy was still on the team. Liv texted Mandy but received no answer. On the night of the meet, we checked the roster and found Mandy's name, so Liv went in pursuit of her to say hello. She came back to my chair several moments later, her head down. I asked her if she found Mandy and she looked bewildered.
"Yeah," she said. "I did. But...well, she was acting so oddly."
I asked her to explain.
Apparently, she had seen Mandy with a group of girls and went up to her. They all had their swim suits on. When she exuberantly called hello to her, Mandy gave her a cool glance and mumbled something that sounded like hi, and then turned away with the other girls. They all went into the bathroom. Liv followed them. Suddenly one of the girls that Mandy was with turned around and said loudly, "Oh, god...she's freaking FOLLOWING us, Mands! You have a stalker!"
Liv was embarrassed and looked to Mandy to say something. Instead, Mandy turned around and gave her the once over and said, "And she's still as flat as a board! Wow. I have a flat chested stalker! Yikes!"
Stunned and hurt, Liv said that she turned to go and ended up stumbling a little, but caught herself. She heard the girls say something like "Walk much?" and then they all laughed.
When Liv told me this, I was so furious that I wanted to go shake Mandy. In fact, I spied Mandy's mother across the pool and started to get up, ready to go tell her what Mandy had done. Liv, seeing where this was headed, grabbed my arm.
"No, Mama!" she said. "That would only make me feel worse...just let it go. Okay?"
Reluctantly, I said ok. Liv left then to find her friends on her team and I sat back down to discuss things with Bing. As usual, Bing had the cool head while mine was frying hot.
"Let her fight her own battles, hon!" she said. "She has to learn to deal with mean girls just like the rest of us."
"But," I sputtered. "Mandy was such a nice girl! I can't believe she'd do that to Liv! She used to SPEND WEEKENDS at our house just last year!"
Bing, the experienced teacher, reminded me that junior high girls could be terrible bullies, that it was a weird age and that we didn't know the situation. Maybe Mandy was trying to fit in with a popular group, etc. We didn't know the facts and even so, we needed to let Liv handle it.
I wasn't convinced but I sat down.
A few moments later, Mandy and her
This time, nothing was said, but Mandy put her hand over the side of her face, creating a blinder and pointedly ignored Liv. After they passed her, they all broke into peals of snotty mean girl laughter. Liv, head held high, walked up to us and grabbed her water bottle. Said she needed to go get ready for her heat. I hugged her and wished her luck.
As soon as she was halfway away from me and not looking, I bolted from my seat before Bing could grab me. I race walked to where Mandy and her friends were standing. Mandy had gained weight and it didn't look attractive. I would have loved to hurt her right back by asking her if they allowed whales to compete, but I am the adult so I had to take the high road.
So, I went and stood and front of her and her dipshit friends. She looked up, recognized me, and blushed furiously. Before she could open her mouth, I leaned in and said as quietly as I could:
"I would have never pegged you to turn into one of those snotty mean girls, Mandy. You are SO much better than this sort of pathetic behavior."
Before she could answer, I stalked off. I heard one of her friends say loudly, "Wow...did you see that big hat that she had on? God, ugly much?"
I spun around again and they all scattered like the chicken shits they were, Mandy's face was still beet red. I watched them scamper off and then went back to my chair. Bing looked at me and sighed.
"You just had to do it, didn't you?"
I glared at her. "Liv can fight her own battles and she does. But, if you think that I'm going to let that little bad ass fuck around with my daughter's feelings IN FRONT OF ME, you have another thing coming."
Bing didn't answer. She knows when not to take me on.
Liv went on to take first place in every single one of her events. Mandy only swam in two relays and she pretty much lost the race for her team, taking them from second place to last. I remember from meets past that she never was a great swimmer. I used to feel sort of badly for her, but I was always proud of her for trying so hard. Not this time. This time, I felt like laughing at her and pointing. But...you know...I didn't. You can't fight mean with mean. But you CAN fight mean with truth. And I felt as if I did.
I didn't tell Liv that I spoke to Mandy and as far as I know, she didn't notice.
I wish that I was a better person, wish that I could find some kindness in my heart for Mandy. But, I can't. We all have choices. We can choose to be good, we can choose to be kind. Or...we can choose to be mean, choose to walk in that dark place. I'm not stupid. I don't think I shamed Mandy into changing her tune, but I wanted her to know that someone saw her, you know? I wanted to force her to think about her behavior.
What do you think? Should I have, as Bing suggested, just let it go? Or was I in the right?
What would you have done?