People Can Be Oh So Bad But How You React Can Make It Ten Times Worse

by admin on July 18, 2013

Last week my thirteen year old daughter, Ella, had to have her wisdom teeth removed. The procedure was difficult for her due to how impacted the teeth were and the surgeon wound up removing two molars as well. One day after her surgery, our neighbor, “Jennifer”, with whom I had been very close for some time, called and asked if she could come over to check on Ella and chat. I said, alright. I knew (or at least thought I knew) this woman very well and I knew my daughter would not mind.

When Jennifer came over, Ella had just taken a pain pill and was sleeping on the sofa in the family room. Jennifer walked up to her, and (it still makes me furious to think of this) SQUEEZED her cheeks, HARD! My daughter immediately woke up and burst into tears. Jennifer GIGGLED (yes, giggled!) and pranced away to my kitchen to get herself a drink. I stood there, furious and in total shock but managed to compose myself and comfort Ella, who was sobbing in pain and was totally confused as to what what happened to her. I got her a cold pack and got her back to sleep and went into the kitchen, nearly shaking with fury, to find Jennifer sipping away at a Mimosa. It took every thing I had not to break her jaw. I told her that Ella was unwell (thanks to you, you evil b****!) and Jennifer needed to leave immediately. She looked confused but downed the rest of her drink and left.

I called my husband and managed to tell him what happened through furious tears. He was livid and even said I should call the police on this woman. I didn’t want to go to that extreme but vowed that I would never, ever, ever speak to Jennifer again. Ella was in horrible pain for several hours after this and no amount of pain medication and ice helped. I was horribly upset, which made her three younger brothers upset, then their still-fuming father came home and disturbed the peace even more by calling both his and my parents and ranting to them about what happened. This might have been inappropriate on his part, but that is how he deals with anger and I suppose I should be thankful that’s all he did rather than marching over to Jennifer’s and dealing with her “old school”, as he would say.

Ella had a thumb-shaped bruise on either cheek and was in great pain for the next four days. We found out at her check-up that what Jennifer had done had pinched off the newly formed scabs on Ella’s gums, resulting in her developing dry sockets. We now have to get them packed on a daily basis, which, though it does not hurt us to pay for this, is a cost that could have been avoided if Jennifer had chosen to reign in her inner sadist. The oral surgeon could not believe what happened when I told him. Everyone I’ve told about this has been absolutely appalled at how horrible this woman was. What possesses a person to squeeze the cheeks of someone who’s just undergone dental surgery and then LAUGH at them as they cry in pain? I believe this goes beyond an etiquette faux pas and into plain cruelty, but I simply had to share this. I still feel like crying when I think of what happened. In the past few days, Jennifer has called and left messages asking if she’d “offended me” and if she could come over to “talk about it.” How clueless can you be?! 0710-13

You have Mimosas (orange juice and champagne) on tap in your kitchen?  And she just helped herself to one?

It goes without saying that Jennifer has some serious boundary issues.  Was she perhaps a little inebriated when this happened?  It appears she was drinking alcohol at your house rather early in the day and her confused reaction and lack of understanding about why you are offended seems odd to me perhaps indicating she had been drinking before she came to your house.   It appears that even you consider it out of character behavior for her to behave this way.

Jennifer aside, can you now see how the drama you and your husband kept fueling disturbed your family peace long after Jennifer had done her deed and left the house?  How were the children served to witness their parents in a state of hyped up anger which only distressed them further?   Sometimes there are occasions where you, as the parent, have to suck it up and behave calmly and rationally so that you set an example for the kids.  What you say behind closed doors to each other and other family adults is one thing but you and hubby selfishly gave vent to your anger in front of the kids with little regard as to how this was upsetting them.   I don’t know the ages of the three younger brothers but it’s probable they were young enough to not understand all the drama and instead of one child victim, there are four courtesy of yours and the hub’s lack of self control.   Your job as a parent is to train up your children to react to other people’s horrid bad manners in a calm, civil, rational manner because they have to learn that they cannot change other people’s behavior but they sure can control how they react and behave. What they learned this week is that screaming, venting, ranting in anger regardless of how it affects those innocent bystanders is the appropriate drama response to any offense they happen to incur.

Addendum as of 8:55 am EST:

There is always a subset of people reading Ehell who believe in their inherent right to react to grave offenses committed against them with high drama and reciprocal retaliation regardless of what impact that behavior has on innocent people in their sphere of relationships (children, pets, family, co-workers).   I delete comments quite frequently from people who advocate reciprocal rudeness as their entitled right of response since I have no interest in promoting their twisted brand of etiquette or giving them a platform to justify their own right to exercise out of control behavior just because someone offended them.

Reread the story again and note the following:  “I was horribly upset, which made her three younger brothers upset, then their still-fuming father came home and disturbed the peace even more by calling both his and my parents and ranting to them about what happened. This might have been inappropriate on his part, but that is how he deals with anger.….”  Jennifer’s cruel act was a one time deal (so far) but Dad’s way of displaying his anger is “how he deals with it”, i.e. meaning he routinely “disturbs the peace” of his family with his rather selfish lack of self control in front of his wife and children.  Rather than the drama ending with Jennifer’s departure from the house, it just keeps going on and on for hours thus giving Jennifer enormous power to have ruined an entire day in this family’s lives.  How many times has this site discussed the concept of not giving power to the rude, ugly, mean boors of this world by moderating our own reactions in a way that rises above the drama and takes control of the situation?  Yeah, lots.   “No power to the boors” should be this site’s mission statement.

And Jennifer has yet to be confronted on this matter so instead of directing their ire at her, the kids get the brunt of it.   The kids became the unwitting audience upon which Dad rehearsed his anger.  (Hint:  If you cannot muster the self control or courage to confront your offender, no fair taking it out on the innocent parties of your immediate acquaintance.)

And then there is always some readers who take hyperbole to new heights by interpreting phrases or words like “self control”, “rational”,”civil”  to mean “act like a doormat”, “be a wimp” or to declare that anger under control is to show no anger at all.   It’s as if anger is either an “on” or “off” emotion and there is no concept of how one can express anger in a firm yet rational and civil manner.  If you are one of those readers who thinks anger is best expressed in frothing displays of emotions, you haven’t grasped the basic premise of this site and your comments will continue to be deleted lest you influence others with your limited understanding of how to behave.

{ 119 comments… read them below or add one }

Treeang July 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

It is also possible that Jennifer wasn’t drunk, but just an unthinking twit. Perhaps she thought it would be funny to grab Ella’s face and force her to smile, not recognizing the immense pain she would cause. When she realized that it wasn’t funny, she laughed awkwardly and retreated to the kitchen. She then expected the OP to tell her if she had done something wrong, but the OP just came in and told her it wasn’t a good time and sent her home, so she thought it must not have been anything she did wrong. She is now just confused.

Some people are giant idiots and act without thinking first. We are currently trying to train this out of my six year old son (he injures people accidentally in the course of being “funny”–he isn’t quite up to speed on the exact relationship between cause and potential effects), but I think some people never quite “get it”. An excellent reason not to continue the friendship, but not a reason to forgo explaining to Jennifer what happened and why you are choosing to end your friendship. She may learn from this and she may not (some people are just terminally clueless), but at least give her the opportunity to walk away a better person. She may not have any experience in dealing with medical issues and truly thought she was going to make Ella laugh.

It was not, however, assault in any well-known definition of the term. I can’t believe her intent was to hurt Ella, a girl she apparently cared about. And winding everyone up in a tizzy of “How HORRIBLE Jennifer is” really doesn’t help anyone. Jennifer did something stupid and thoughtless, likely unintentionally (I am assuming this on the fact that the OP seems to have been fairly close to Jennifer and hopefully doesn’t make a habit of becoming close friends with sadistic psychopaths) but spending undue amounts of time on the issue and complaining to anyone within reach did nothing to help the situation and likely scared the kids. A simple “Wow, Ella, I can’t believe how thoughtless Jennifer was! She must have had no idea what she was doing. Now, how can I help you feel better?” Later, to DH you can vent as much as you want and you can decide she is a raving drunk lunatic.

Hope everyone is feeling better.

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just4kicks July 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

My husband and I, when we are angry or having a bad day will say to our children “I’m very sorry that mom and dad are in a bad mood. It has nothing to do with you guys at all! No one is angry with you, something happened we are upset about, we don’t mean to be so crabby!” By the same token, if one of my kids is upset, we will remind them that it’s ok to be sad/angry/annoyed but it’s not ok to take it out on everyone in the house. That being said, if anyone did to one of my children what this whacko did to the girl in the story, I, my husband and the other kids would be unbelievably upset….And not to offend anyone who thinks to the contrary, but I think RIGHTLY so.

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Calli Arcale July 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

“For those advising that the OP should hire an attorney and sue Jennifer, you have obviously never hired a lawyer in your life to do this and therefore have no credibility.”

I have hired lawyers in my life. I know they are not cheap. However, “sue in civil court with a lawyer/do nothing” is not a binary situation. There are other options, should OP choose to pursue them. I would think small claims court would be more appropriate for a case like this, given the relatively small amount of money involved, and you don’t use a lawyer in small claims court. This is, in fact, the *point* of small claims court. There is also the option of getting a lawyer to send a strongly worded letter, and if her employer offers legal services as a benefit of employment, this would cost nothing at all; I tend to consider that the coward’s route, as I think one should write the letter oneself, but if she wants to make sure she’s not compromising legal options down the road, it is an option that would not bust the bank.

Personally, I’d just leave it and move on with life; in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s better for the blood pressure to just get on with life. But I think it’s not correct to say that there are no realistic legal options in this case.

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Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm

OP, are you around? I really just wanted to know how Ella’s recovery is going.

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Shannan July 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I wish the OP would comment with an update. I’m dying to know if anything was ever said to “Jennifer”.

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schnickelfritz July 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

When I started reading these posts – I too was floored. But something in the back of my mind nagged at me.

Post 72 (another Sarah) and 73 (the Admin), gave me a different perspective.

I may be totally off base – I picture, the dtr had the pain pills, and fell fast and deep asleep. Jennifer arrives, approaches dtr, and probably touched / moved the girls face toward her , to take a look-see, – and the startled pain / conked out patient reacted, jumped and cried out – disturbed from her deep sleep, and throbbing jaw, and I don’t blame her – to open her eyes and see Jennifer, touching her tender face to boot.

Mother is startled – and, reacts. Later, dtr has bruised face and dry sockets. Well, I have to admit, I have at least a few times in my life, had the dentist or dental surgeon, leave thumb shaped bruises on my face. I think from just holding me in place. I bruise horribly anyway. Also, dry sockets are not unusual. I don’t see how pinching her face could do that. I never had scabs – I had a couple of stitches that closed the space where the tooth was. I am not sure, but don’t the dry sockets turn up, once the stitches are removed, and the wound doesn’t close properly?

I don’t blame the patient for her reaction of being startled awake, on pain pills, and with a very tender face. Jennifer was overly insensitive to a sleeping patient. I don’t think she bruised the dtr; that often happens after dental work, and thumb-shaped, as I have had that.

Drama Mama and Papa.

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KJ July 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I honestly stopped reading this when the husband suggested calling the police. It seems the OP and her husband are primed for over reactions and outrageous behavior. That in itself is a etiquette faux pas. That is if the story is to be believed and I seriously question that as well.

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OP July 28, 2013 at 10:34 am

I’m sorry that I gave the impression that my husband and I ran around for hours ranting about this woman. My husband called his parents and mine in a room entirely separate from where our children were and our children couldn’t hear him. When I said that I was “upset” I did not mean that I was raving about how horrible Jennifer was. I meant that, since my daughter was crying in pain I myself was on the verge of tears and their father coming home and telling our parents about it made me even more emotional. My three younger children (ten, six, and three) sensed that I was upset (though I did try very hard to hide it) and it threw off their day. I didn’t intend I say anything about the incident to them, but my ten and six year olds were curious as to why I was upset and I told them that their sister was feeling very poorly and I was sorry for being a bit snappy. After my husband got off the phone I made sure to tell him not to mention the incident to our children. When I said “the way he deals with anger” I meant that it helps him to talk with others. Even though he should have kept this incident within immediate family, he didn’t raise his voice or use deragatory terms, he just sounded bewildered and sad for our daughter, and he also asked my mother, who was a nurse, if what Jennifer did would seriously harm Ella. I apologize for making it sound like we all moped about and ranted like a bunch of lunatics. I should have been clearer.In response to the “why the mimosas?” questions, I generally try to have some kind of drink available for my guests and since my daughter was sleeping and my sons were occupied and quiet, making mimosas sounded like a good idea. Jennifer didn’t seem to be intoxicated when she came over, she was walking and speaking normally, and since we are both thirty-something grown women and mimosas aren’t exactly hard liquor, I didn’t think it would be harmful to serve her one. I will not press charges against Jennifer, because I feel that would be going a little too far. Yes, I’m still upset that my daughter had to endure so much pain but really, what will getting my neighbor arrested do about that? I have tried to call Jennifer several times but she will not answer. I am unsure whether she is embarassed about what she did or if I offended her by asking her to leave in what I thought was a polite way. I would honestly like to know if her judgment was compromised that day or whatever. I’m unsure if this is a proper thing to expect, but I’d also like an apology from her to Ella. I apologize for how much I over-reacted in this submission and how unclear I was. Perhaps Jennifer and I were both just not thinking. Ella is feeling much better now; she no longer needs pain medication and has only minor swelling left.

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grumpy_otter July 29, 2013 at 9:59 am

This shocked me and brought back a really bad memory.

When I was 13, I went crabbing all day with no sunblock and got a horrible sunburn that made me feel very sick. When I went back to school, my back was blistered and I wore a backless shirt with a light jacket over it to hide how awful it looked.

I went to the school nurse midday to try and go home but she suggested I just take the jacket off (I didn’t want to reveal the horror of my back to others, but since I couldn’t go home I did it)

When I went to my next class, I explained to everyone what had happened and apologized, then a girl I knew casually came up to me and scraped her nails across my back and laughed. I sat there and cried I was in such agony (and hurt feelings of disbelief that anyone could do such a thing). She apologized, but in a really sarcastic way like, “Well, sorry you are such a wuss.”

Some people really lack empathy and common sense–Jennifer seems to be one of those. Nothing but sympathy for OP and her daughter.

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Chelsey August 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

schnickelfritz: According to my oral surgeon, dry sockets are quite rare if you actually follow the directions they give you after the procedure.

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AthenaC August 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

OP – thanks for the update.

Everyone else (collectively) – Many people have been unduly harsh to the OP, and then we wonder where the update is? Why would anyone expect an OP to read through 100+ comments from people choosing to interpret things in the worst possible light for the OP and then expect them to grace us with an update?

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Miss Merlot August 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for posting back OP.

Still wondering though if you did eventually confront Jennifer over the whole sorry affair…??

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Harpalyce September 11, 2013 at 12:58 am

I don’t know if it’s been pointed out, but the whole tack of “everyone dragged it out far too long”… I also got dry rot when I had my wisdom teeth out. (Fortunately, entirely my own fault. Curse you, delicious milkshake…) Trust me when I say it is agony. And it is not the sort of thing where a few days and you’ll be fine, either. It goes on for weeks. If the parents had trouble dropping this, it’s because they were seeing their daughter in constant pain. If the person pinched the patient’s cheek hard enough to create the kind of suction that leads to dry rot, you bet your bottom dollar that it’s absolutely going to leave a bruise.

I’m kind of surprised everyone jumped against the OP! Mothers worry about their daughters, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Seeing your kid in such major pain is going to make the more irrational choices seem worth it momentarily.

And to the commenters who are incredulous that it could hurt that much… yes… yes it does… yes, it very, very, very much does… cast your mind back to when you had your own wisdom teeth out and multiply by ten, and you’ll have it. And if you haven’t had to have your wisdom teeth removed… may your luck hold!

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