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 }

Miss Merlot July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I absolutely agree that Jennifer sounds a nutjob and with Admin that the reaction was very badly handled…

However, I have to say Admin you did come across a little bit preachy towards the OP – it would be great if we could all react every single time as etiquette dictates, but can any of us (even given the fact that this is a manners-minded site!) on here still honestly ever say that we have never given way to emotion in reaction to extreme provocation in our lives, and not as cold hard logic would say we should have behaved after the event…??

I know I certainly can’t claim the moral high ground on that score!

OP, I hope you’re daughter is feeling and healing better now, and I do agree with others that you should polite spine and make your grievance known to Jennifer – this time with Admin’s cool-minded advice on your side… I add my voice to those who would like an update on this, though in my experience people like Jennifer can never be made to admit to a wrong (I bet my front teeth she will deny ever having done this) and after a much warranted confrontation are best discarded…

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Rap July 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I’m just not seeing this as a courtesy issue. If this person came over and left bruises on your child… depending on the details, I might not call the cops but I would certainly let Jennifer know why she was being asked to leave.

I currently have wine in my fridge, and beer and some rum. Does that mean it’s “on tap” if my guests know that I normally am “help yourself as long as you’re over 21 and not driving”?

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Otter July 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Why is the neighbor coming to check on her? Is she a medical professional of some kind? Why assault a surgical patient and then skip off when she wakes up and starts crying? Why didn’t the mother say anything? Lot’s of perplexing behavior. The neighbor’s conduct is inexcusable but mother’s response is all kinds of wrong too. She should have dealt with Jennifer then and there, not rant afterwards to everyone else. The only thing to do now is write neighbor a letter about what she did, what the damages are and why she should never step foot on OP’s property again.

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David July 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

OP; write Jennifer a calm, coherent letter about what she did, what it caused and why she is no longer welcome to visit. Keep a copy.

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Amanda H. July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Count me with WillyNilly, wondering why Jennifer was allowed to approach Ella while the girl was asleep. I still remember when I had my wisdom teeth out, and would have been VERY upset if my mother had allowed someone near me while I was trying to nap.

What Jennifer did was inexcusable, but as others have pointed out, it sounds from the letter like she hasn’t actually been told that since being ejected from the house, and doesn’t appear to realize what she did was wrong, as evidenced by her “did I offend you?” voicemails. If nothing else, she NEEDS to be told that what she did was inexcusable, and exactly WHY the OP is no longer speaking to her. Possibly even presented with a bill for the additional dental work. I can understand not wanting to call the police over it, but completely ignoring Jennifer is actually denying yourself closure and allowing the drama to just continue because you’re not actually resolving it.

And I’ll throw my vote in there as well that the ranting and raving and general atmosphere of upsetness in the house is not helping the children. My own father had anger issues (though I know he loved us dearly), and would frequently yell over issues that many would consider minor. Perhaps not quite to the “hysterics” level of E’s MIL, but it did have an effect on us children (I’m still working on my own anger problems myself, trying to deal with frustrations in a more productive fashion).

Yes, children should see that being hurt by anyone is not acceptable, but that doesn’t mean the parents need to throw a screaming fit. As Admin said, anger doesn’t just have an on/off switch. It’s more of a volume dial. Ejecting Jennifer from the house was a good first step. The father should have kept his ranting to his and OP’s parents behind closed doors, away from the children, but a CALM phone call to Jennifer explaining why her actions were inappropriate and that she should stay away from OP’s children from now on is most likely acceptable in front of the children (then they see their parents dealing with it the way rational, civil adults should; they realize their parents are there to defend them without getting more upset themselves or getting the impression that rants and fretting are the way to deal with problems).

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Carolyn July 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Whether or not OP keeps champagne ready in the house is neither here nor there. I’m not certain why that merited a comment from Admin.

Given Jennifer’s completely bizarre and boundary-crossing behaviour, I suspect she may have a significant drinking problem. I hope OP follows the advice of some other posters to let her know WHY she is being shunned in order to help prevent similar actions in the future as well as possibly clueing her in that her general behaviour may be out of control.

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KJR July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I believe she was probably under the influence when she did this. Especially since she seems to have no grasp on what she did wrong. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind, especially a family friend, purposely inflicting that kind of pain on a child. Any parent (myself included) would have been livid. We hurt when our kids hurt.

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Dee July 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

OP phoned her husband to rant instead of dealing with Jennifer; what she thought her hubby was able to do about the situation, from his workplace, instead of OP, I can’t fathom. Then hubby comes home and rants to his parents and OP’s, for what reason I cannot fathom. Seems to me there is a problem with “chain of command” … The responsibility for resolution rested, initially, with OP, and her husband should have cut off the call until OP set about calming down and considering how she would deal with Jennifer. Then hubby’s parents and in-laws should have cut hubby off when they realized he had not done anything to resolve the issue first. Ranting is a helpful tool when there is no resolution to be had for a situation – ie the cat coughed up another furball on the carpet – or for when the resolution has been attempted and the feelings still need to be vented. That all these parties accept a dynamic of ranting without any expectation of resolution or even attempting a resolution suggests serious dysfunction on everyone’s part. That would appear to me to be the biggest issue in all this. The Jennifers of the world are numerous so the way they are handled is far more important than the dirty deeds they do in the first place. I have little patience for the drama exhibited by OP. Maybe she and hubby are more eager to be victims than adults. Too bad for the kids caught in the middle.

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Deb July 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Much of this story does not ring true. Embellishment, much? Something happened, that’s for sure.

IMO, the mimosa in question was not Jennifer’s first that day. What adult feels the need to “check on” her neighbor’s 13-year-old child when her own mother is right there? Nonsense. She came over to drink. Is this REALLY the first time the OP had observed her “very close friend” tipsy during the day? Doubtful.

That aside, there is no way to determine if Jennifer’s actions caused the dry sockets. Oral surgery is dicey, and hysterical parents are not conducive to healing. Furthermore, if my daughter had been “in horrible pain for several hours after this and no amount of pain medication and ice helped,” I would have, at the very least, phoned the surgeon or gone to the ER. Sounds to me like ranting and raving was more satisfying.

For Ella’s sake, I hope the OP exaggerated for effect. Although what I’m feeling is probably not the effect she was going for.

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Jays July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Add me to those puzzled that the admin focused in on the mimosas. I’ve seen them premade and that wouldn’t be odd to have in a fridge, at all.

I do agree that Jennifer needs to be explicitly told what she did. (And it should have been much sooner than this.) It’s possible she’s just completely, utterly clueless. Yes, any adult human being should think, “Shouldn’t squeeze cheeks of child who just had oral surgery!” but if all human beings were rational, we probably wouldn’t have eHell. :)

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Elizabeth July 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I don’t think it matters whether she was under the influence of alcohol or not; I have been and it doesn’t turn me into a sadist.

Drop this crazy person from your life with a brief ‘you caused my daughter pain; I am shocked that you’d do such a thing’ and move on. Stop fostering drama in the household, too. Your husband’s venting was a childish, unproductive rant.

Confront and move on.

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Nikki July 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Getting angry is understandable. Wanting to hold rant about it and fret about it for days afteward is understandable. It is not, however, productive.
1) It does nothing to help the OP’s daughter.
2) It does nothing to help the OP’s other children.
3) It does nothing to truly help the OP or the OP’s husband.

I refuse to be too hard on the OP, because hindsight’s 20/20, and the shock at the situation explains her intial behavior. But at what point do you take a deep breath, take care of your family, and begin to move forward? Deal with Jennifer if you must, but do so in a calm, rational manner that won’t leave you blackmarked in this whole mess.

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Kimstu July 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Yup. I sympathize with the OP’s and her daughter’s distress, but vowing that you will “never, ever, ever speak to Jennifer again” is just amping up the trauma.

By all means, sever relations with Jennifer—she does NOT seem like a trustworthy person for a family of four young children to be around—but do it clearly and calmly with a minimum of fuss. Making a neighborhood scandal out of her shockingly cruel misbehavior is not going to help anybody in the long run.

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AS July 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm

@ OP – I am fuming too… and I don’t even know you or your daughter. I can only imagine how you much be feeling as a mother. The poor little girl. Hugs to her.

I can’t believe what some people think and can do. I wonder if she was indeed already inebriated, or if she has developed some other kind of trouble.

I am not sure about having to deal with anger though. When I was young, my mother used to sometimes tell me that “Momma or daddy is upset now, please don’t disturb her/him”, and I would know to keep my contact to minimum and mind my own business. But I also learned a valuable lesson that other people have emotions can get upset sometimes, and I should be cognizant to their needs.

It is also nice that OP’s husband has someone to be able to vent to. But it might be better if he goes to a closed room and talk to his parents and in-laws, and come out to meet his children after composing himself.

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Selphie Trabia July 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I completely agree with the admin. I’m surprised that the OP has the ability to spin a kindly, soft, gentle yarn to spare Jennifer’s feelings. It’s no wonder that Jennifer doesn’t know what she’s done wrong – she was never called out on her behaviour. What I find even weirder after that is that the OP and her husband then spend the entire day freaking out, calling people who are only tangentially related to the problem to complain but never once telling Jennifer what she did wrong.

When things like this happen, I always find that the best solution is to go straight to the offender, tell them their offence and (if no apology is forthcoming), kick them out of the house. Yes, you COULD file for assault, but this situation doesn’t really call for such hyperbole. Save the filing of assault for really serious things instead.

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startruck July 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

this is assault pure and simple. and a pretty horrific one at that. i would have called the police on this horrible women, pressed charges , then sued her for my daughter’s pain and suffering. she caused four days of pain for this child? unbelievable. i have had my wisdom teeth taken out and also developed dried sockets. only child birth has been more painful. as for the mothers reaction? my mom would have laid this women out.

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admin July 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

Yours is but one of about 20 comments I refuse to put through because the “advice” to press criminal charges and sue is just beyond ridiculous and screams just how ignorant some people are about the criminal and legal system. This knee-jerk reaction escalating the situation to the nuclear option without ever talking to Jennifer first is just another tactic in the arsenal of drama queens.

You can file criminal charges until you are blue in the face but if the prosecutor cannot prove your case with 99% certainty (that “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard), your case isn’t going anywhere. Bruising is common with wisdom teeth extraction (particularly one as difficult as the OP describes) and dry socket happens without touching any cheeks. *I* had dry socket after having my wisdom teeth removed decades ago and no one touched me. So proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Jennifer is the sole causal agent in Ella’s bruising and dry socket is unlikely.

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. If you had, you’d be advising the OP to have about $4,000.00 in cash to start the legal process with absolutely no guarantee of getting that 4K or more back. Going to court is a crap shoot and if your lawyer doesn’t advise you of that, he/she is unethical and will happily bleed his stupid, litigious client’s wallet dry.

I should start an entirely new category on Ehell called “Knee Jerk Drama” just to toss all those advocating drastic drama as the ONLY solution to a dilemma into their own section of Ehell.

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Marie July 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Send Jennifer the bill for this extra dental work, along with a picture of the bruise of your daughter’s cheek and a note from her orthodontist explaining the damage she caused. Just like you would if she intentionally broke a vase in your home. The woman probably does not understand what the removal of wisdom teeth entails and how much it hurts; this will enlighten her. She assaulted your daughter, and you need to make it clear what she did was criminal and damaging.

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MichelleP July 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@WillyNilly, there is no way the OP would have known, or even imagined, what Jennifer was going to do. There have been plenty of times that I’ve had a neighbor/friend drop in when my child was sick/asleep, and so on. I wouldn’t have thought anything of Jennifer “approaching her sleeping body” either. It probably happened fairly quickly; there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it. You made it sound like the child was a baby animal and Jennifer was a hovering WOLF, approaching for the kill! I agree the OP should have done more after it was done, however.

Sorry admin, but I would have thrown her out. Etiquette be damned.

Admin is right on about the venting in front of the children. I agree that the anger shouldn’t have been shown to them. My father had a terrible temper when I was growing up, and it still affects me. I have had to learn to control my anger in ways he didn’t.

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koolchicken July 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Okay, so I didn’t read the other comments but I did read the story and the addendum. If it were me, I’m not sure I’d be able to reel in my frustration/anger/pain at the time. Obviously I’d try my best so as not to further upset my distraught daughter and concerned sons. But sometimes distress is difficult to contain and some may spill over. I would 100% call my husband, it’s only natural to want to call your spouse for comfort. I could see how he may wish to call someone too if he really can’t contain himself. But it would be better to keep it between the two of us.

As for the neighbor, she needs to be spoken to. Either by the OP or both parents. They should ask when would be a good time to come over to talk. I would ask why she would do such a thing. I would also suggest she apologize to the daughter. If the girl feels a face to face meeting is too traumatic then perhaps a card or letter would be appropriate. Talking it out may be a good way to heal for everyone. If that doesn’t work then perhaps get a letter from the child’s dentist. If they say the dry sockets were 100% caused by the pinching the OP may wish to insist the neighbor pay the extra medical costs. And as a last step, perhaps contact the police. No one should be allowed to assault a child, drunk or sober. If you really feel like you can’t move on it may be the right move.

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Surianne July 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

I both agree and disagree with Admin.

OP, I think that you definitely should let Jennifer know why you aren’t going to spend time with her in the future. Do it as calmly as possible (write it out beforehand if you’re leaving a phone message, or have someone look over an email before you send it). She needs to know how messed up her behaviour was, and I think it would give you some closure.

At the same time, I don’t think you or your husband did *anything* wrong here. Showing an inordinate amount of anger in front of kids can be disturbing, yes, but I’m not seeing that in your post. It’s normal to vent to family members, and I don’t think there’s any problem with your husband doing that. I don’t think it’s indicative of an anger problem. Similarly, your other children likely would have been upset either way by seeing their sister in pain.

I also don’t think the posters who judged you for letting Jennifer near your sleeping daughter are being fair. You knew Jennifer as a friendly neighbour; there was no way you could have predicted this in advance. Even if her request seemed slightly odd, without predicting the future I too would have assumed she had good intentions.

I am so sorry this happened to you and your daughter. I hope she is feeling much better now.

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Chocobo July 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

If you haven’t spoken to Jennifer yet, now is the time. There is nothing wrong with calmly saying that you are angry that she came in, injured your daughter in her already tender condition, and then helped herself to your food, and you no longer wish to continue her acquaintance. In fact, since she is calling you asking to speak, you absolutely should, since she seems to be aware that something is wrong. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or drawn out, simply stating the facts and that it has upset you and your family so much that you would appreciate if she would not contact you again. Simple as that.

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NostalgicGal July 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

I’ve had ugly oral surgery, I’ve had wisdom teeth removed, I’ve had dry sockets. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Sober or drunk, there’s no excuse for Jennifer’s actions.

I would have told said Jennifer that she’s now a nonperson. Where she got ahold of the Mimosa or how she did wasn’t relevant other than it seems she wasn’t sober and grabbed more booze.

The loser is Ella, gods. If there were bruises, I would have called the police. OP still should.

AS for the extended dramatrauma (such as all the rage and upset noted afterwards) that didn’t help the patient involved, and no needs to drag it out.

There’s no easy out on this one but the one that owes is Jennifer, and the one that is owed, is Ella.

If Jennifer is normally not a drinking person, then why was she drinking… if she was known for taking a nip or two, then… I’d still call the authorities. Jennifer may need an intervention and AA, at best.

If you can speak to Jennifer civilly and explain why (and she can understand why) she did wrong, how she did wrong, why she did wrong, and she’s now never ever welcome in your life again; I will congratulate you, OP.

*just over a week post from yet another oral surgery to remove a tooth that continually abcessed despite several different courses of treatment… as I read this and comment*

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Kate July 19, 2013 at 12:50 am

Ouch. I had dry socket after my own wisdom teeth operation (fortunately, not due to someone squeezing my face) and it hurts like hell. I think the best move is to sever ties with Jennifer but not let this ruin your family’s lives.

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SJ July 19, 2013 at 1:34 am

Although I can imagine there’s a good way to handle it, I am sympathetic to the OP. I wouldn’t want to explain to Jennifer. I’d feel like, “You just seriously hurt my child, do I have to explain why that’s not okay? Ugh. Leave.”

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Cara July 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

Good on you for doing your best to calmly throwing her out; I hate to say it, but I myself would have had some choice words for that woman. Hope you learn from admin’s words as to how to deal with the aftermath long after such an appalling incident.

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Mechanistika July 19, 2013 at 3:19 am

Admin, I agree with almost entirely everything you said, though it took me two tries to really understand WHY you wrote that. My initial reaction to reading this story was absolute shock and horror, and truly, I’m surprised OP didn’t just throw the mimosa out of Jennifer’s hand and slap her. That said, I don’t condone violence, I just know that I would not have acted as calmly as OP did. (Granted, I’m only 19, short-tempered, and well aware that I need to get my anger in check.)

Husband’s reaction made me think of an overgrown child though. I stopped running to my mother to tattle about something she had no control over when I was in elementary school. Your extended family may be an important part of your life, OP, but they don’t deserve to be saddled with problems they have no way of solving. No doubt they love your daughter very much and now they’re going to worry about how Ella is doing and how you and your husband are handling it. It only adds extra stress on Ella, because every time she sees her extended family, she’ll be reminded of the horrible woman who made her mom and dad so mad.

I agree with Admin and what everyone else has said. OP, you need to sit down with a cool head and rationally write out a letter to Jennifer. Once that’s complete, you SHOULD call her and read your letter to her, without embellishing anything. No swearing, no raising your voice. Be icy. Remain calm as you speak. Once that’s done, end all contact. You’ve already said that it doesn’t hurt you or your husband financially to pay for the extra procedure, so I’m not going to tell you to send Jennifer the bill UNLESS she decides to continue contact. If she doesn’t leave you and your family alone, it’s time to give her the bill. If she doesn’t pay but decides to cut contact, leave it at that. If she doesn’t pay and CONTINUES harassing you and your family, take her to court.

Since Jennifer obviously has some SERIOUS issues, I’m not sure that showing her images of the damage done to your daughter will help your case at all. She may only take joy in them. A judge, however, will not look kindly on them and you SHOULD take pictures of the damage just in case you have to go to court.

My condolences to you, OP, and all the best to your daughter.

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Michelle C Young July 19, 2013 at 4:49 am

I have not read the comments, so maybe this was already addressed.

OP, you need to confront Jennifer, and tell her precisely the damage you did. In fact, give her the doctor’s bill for the additional services required. Show her the bruises. And tell her that she is darned lucky that you did not press charges for assault and battery. Do not yell or scream, while you do this. Remain cool and collected as you tell her the damage she did to your daughter, and to your friendship. Tell her how long your daughter was in pain that even pain meds AND ice could not touch, and that you hope she does not treat her own children that way, or you may be forced to call Child Protective Services.

I am inclined to believe, along with admin, that Jennifer had to be inebriated to do this, and to be as oblivious as she was. That is not an excuse, just an explanation. It is also a warning to Jennifer that she has a problem handling alcohol, and should, perhaps, look into treatment for her own addiction. And if she does not have an addiction, then she has a mental problem, and is a sadist, and needs to be cut-off completely. But do not cut her off with no explanation. She MUST be confronted.

I recommend writing down what you plan to say. Edit it as much as needed to make it rational and clear. Then confront her, notes in hand, and keep your voice low and level, avoid swearing, and tell her exactly why you will no longer tolerate her presence.

Good luck. My first impulse, on hearing this, was to scream, and I wanted to slap her silly. I remember when I had my wisdom teeth out, and the pain, even without complications, was bad. My condolences to your daughter, and to the entire family for the distress you all felt at this.

I am so shocked at that unconscionable behavior!

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Another Sarah July 19, 2013 at 5:09 am

I’m with admin all the way on this (except for the mimosas, I would assume if Jennifer and OP had been good friends up to this point they were either going to have mimosas together or Jennifer was confortable in OP’s kitchen) and @Elle – I agree totally. This “mama bear” thing always seems to me to be an excuse for over the top aggressive behaviour. Having children and wanting to defend them doesn’t exempt you from the rules, it gives you a reason to set an example.
I can only remember a couple of times in my life when my parents got absolutely furious about something in front of me or my siblings – as other commenters have mentioned, it was frightening, not reassuring.
OP, It’s totally understandable how upset you were, and this next bit is all taking that into account because no one is at their best in a situation like this, but if I can pinpoint one thing, it’s that rather than deal with the anger by yourself, you spread it around.
People do that to get reassurance that their anger is appropriate, but the result is that they feed off other people’s responses and get angry all over again.
According to the story Ella went back to sleep afterwards, so you could have taken a little time to calm yourself down but instead you phoned your husband, got him angry, left him fuming at work wondering what had gone on and imagining all sorts of things, wound yourself up again, got together again in the evening, wound each other up and the end result was that it reverberated through your whole week. If you had taken some time, reassured your boys that mum was in control and going to deal with Jennifer then spoken more calmly to your husband later on, would it have had the same effect on the kids?
If I can be totally honest, this story comes off as exaggerated. I don’t think that you are exaggerating on purpose, but I do think that it’s possible that your upscaling anger has magnified what happened to you. That’s not to say that Jennifer didn’t do something absolutely disgusting – she absolutely DID and I wouldn’t spend time with her again either.
But Ella was in a lot of pain already, can you honestly say for certain how much damage Jennifer actually did? Would it not be better for your own wellbeing to close this whole episode down now, to speak rationally to this woman who was a close friend and explain what she did wrong and why you will have no further contact with her, then move on?

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Jo-Ann July 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

I agree with Admin. The number one priority here is the children, especially Ella. They look up to us as parents as to how to behave. If parents lose control, that’s very scary for children. Parents protect their children, including drama from crises. That’s what we’re here for. I would have taken Jennifer by the arm, without words, escorted her to the door and put her out. One problem down. Although my instinct would have been to call the police, which is certainly justified, I wouldn’t want to upset Ella further by answering police questions. If it’s not too late after she has healed, perhaps calling the police now would be a good idea. If not, then I’d contact a good attorney to have the bills paid and damages for pain and suffering. Jennifer definitely assaulted this child. I’ve had the same surgery, same dry sockets, and believe me, childbirth was less painful. I pray that Ella is healing and feeling better. I feel for you as a mom, but you couldn’t have known what Jennifer was going to do–what sane person would behave in such a way?

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Allison July 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

Totally agree with Admin as well as #26 Tsunoba, #30 HollyAnn, #51 Selphie Trabia, and #64 Another Sarah.

What Jennifer did was absurdly stupid, but how did an entire household and several extended family members having hysterics help? Is the rule “don’t behave like an animal, unless your kids are watching, in which case it’s okay”? When I was a child and my parents got angry, even if it wasn’t at me, I didn’t feel protected; I just felt frightened. The parents indulging their indignation did Ella no good and clearly upset the younger children. It may have made OP and her husband feel better (although it seems like it didn’t) but it made things much worse for everyone else. How is that being a “mama bear”? How is that caring for one’s children?

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Mae July 19, 2013 at 9:32 am

This is my third try at submitting a comment so here’s hoping it goes through…

I was very angry for Ella when I read this story. Both of my sons had their wisdome teeth out within 4 months of each other in 2011. The first son was ok for awhile after surgery; his pain came the next day and even with pain meds and cold packs, he was in agony for days.I took him back to see the surgeon because of the pain and the surgeron said everything was ok, he was healing fine, he must have a low tolerance for pain. The youngest was in pain immediately following the surgery but we were able to get in under control by the evening.

I would have been furious if someone had done this to one of my children! I would have immediately told them to get out of my home. After trying to comfort them, I would have called my husband, too. I am sure my husband and I would have discussed it when he came home after work. He would have probably called his mother also. I would have tried to deal with it as calmly as possible but I might have raised my voice or been visibly upset. My child is in a great deal of pain due to an idotic adult. Of course I am angry.

I am the kind of person who needs to talk about things to work through or get over them. I think OP’s anger was justified because her child has been through a painful procedure, Jennifer exacerbated the situation and with all the stress and adrenaline, you sometimes act before you think. Hopefully, by the time the husband had come home, things would have settled down and the other children would not be upset any further.

I think all the “op reacted the wrong way, husband reacted the wrong way, you have damaged and scared your children” is unfair. Who has not had an extreme reaction in the heat of the moment? I fully admit I have. Not only do children need to learn the appropriate way to react/deal with situations, they also need to know that we are not perfect creatures and have our moments.

OP- you definitely need to Jennifer that she was wrong, she caused your child pain and cut ties. I could never be friends with someone who had caused my child such pain and then laughed about it.

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amy July 19, 2013 at 9:39 am

Jumping in here with my two cents…

I am a mom, and I love both my kids fiercely, and would do almost anything to protect them, so I understand the intense anger the OP felt when her kid was seemingly injured. I also understand the need to talk to her husband about it, because my husband is always the one person I want to talk to when I am angry and upset. So I don’t fault her on either of those things.

Where she has lost me, and where I am left a bit confused, is why hasn’t she told Pam exactly why she is so angry with her? If Pam did cause this damage, and if the orthodontist can confirm this, then why in the heck hasn’t she confronted her and let her know why Pam’s actions were so totally inappropriate? Pam needs to know why she is not welcome at the house anymore and exactly what her actions caused. Surely enough time has passed that a civil conversation can take place, and Pam can be told that she will not be welcome at their house anymore. And if Pam offers an apology, take it graciously, and stand your ground. You have been running and reacting on pure emotion, and it’s time to let things die down.

My opinion is, and I am merely speculating, is that Pam is either one of those completely oblivious types that don’t get what their actions do to others, or that she may indeed have a bit of an alcohol problem. Either way, limit your time with her and encourage everyone to move on and get past this. Dwelling on it will just let it fester.

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amy July 19, 2013 at 9:41 am

I am sorry. I meant Jennifer in the story, not Pam. Ooopsie.

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Anonymous July 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

I don’t think the ranting is so awful. We’re human. Sometimes, we react badly. This could be a teaching moment for the parents.

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admin July 20, 2013 at 1:31 am

A teaching moment at the expense of the kids.

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k2 July 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

Adding my voice to the people who feel more sorry for the OP’s children than anyone else.

I was always a very nervous child; people fighting or getting angry or upset usually made me very upset, even if the cause of the anger or upset had nothing to do with me. I remember one incident where my dad got into an argument while on the phone with my grandfather and even though I’d retreated to my room by the time they really started yelling, I wound up hiding under the bed because I was so scared of just how angry my dad was getting.

I know it’s not always easy to put aside your own hurt feelings; I am a very shoot from the hip sort of person when I’m upset and have had to work on not taking my anger out on people who are not the cause of the problem but when you’re dealing with children, particularly one who was already hurt and confused like Ella, you do really need to put them and their wellbeing over your own anger and frustration, at the risk of further confusing and scaring them.

My mom always like to tell a story of a particularly bad day she had in her kindergarten class; the students were not behaving and she was growing visibly annoyed, when one of the better behaved students asked “Are you angry?”. My mom started to say “Yes” but then caught herself and told the student “I am, but I’m not angry with any of you”. She then left the children with her assistant, went on a short walk to collect herself and came back to the classroom.

If you are finding it hard to collect yourself, it may be better to excuse yourself, however briefly until you can calm down or at least do your best to explain to your children that while you are upset, it’s not their fault and you will explain it to them later.

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Seiryuu July 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

While the mimosa-taking was uncalled for, that pales in comparison to what “Jennifer” did to “Ella.”

If the OP wishes to take this to court, that is her prerogative, though I wouldn’t do that so hastily. OP should acquiesce to Jennifer’s requests for a reply and tell her exactly what happened. Her behaviour seemed very odd despite coming over to see how Ella was doing. She seemed disoriented and while I wouldn’t ever forgive her if she did that to any hypothetical child of mine, I think it’s fair to give her a say and hopefully have her explain what happened.

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whatever July 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I have to admit, my reaction- that the OP was justified in getting angry- is colored by the fact that when I was growing up, if anything bad ever happened to me, my mother would yell at me to teach me exactly why I was to blame. It didn’t matter if the other person actually did something wrong, or if it was just some random event; it was still 100% my fault for not anticipating and preventing the situation. That was in private. If I was upset in public, she would tease me and make light of the situation, and sometimes even join in with the other person.

She was in many respects a wonderful mother who gave me a very solid foundation for life, and I don’t appreciate that as much as I should. However, the way she dealt with my problems taught me was that people who acted as if they liked me were secretly out to get me. On a more practical level, it taught me that I shouldn’t share information with my mom, which is why I don’t call as often as she would like me too. To this day, I have a very difficult time expressing and even having empathy because I saw very little of it growing up, and I have to be very deliberate about practicing patience with other people’s faults.

I have a hard time faulting parents who go the other way. Clearly the kids know that their parents care about them.

Yes, it would have been better for the anger to be directed more constructively, especially on the OP husband’s part. But, well, it’s not the OP’s husband who wrote in! What’s the point of criticizing the husband’s behavior when it’s the wife who’s asking your advice?

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Chocobo July 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Just adding in: I think it is understandable to call one’s parents to express outrage and ask for advice. After all, presumably they have an interest in the child and the grandchild’s lives. Elders often have some good advice on what to do next. So I don’t find that impulse improper. However, what was improper was doing so in front of the children. If you’re going to have a highly emotional conversation, it needs to be in private.

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schnickelfritz July 19, 2013 at 3:48 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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Tama July 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I agree that things should have been handled with far less drama in front of the kids. And I agree that suing full out in civil court is not the right option, nor is calling the cops. However, if your neighbours come over often and there are always mimosas in your fridge you are enabling bad behaviour. Stop leaving booze in the fridge. Seriously. It is not a requirement of hospitality to offer booze. Water maybe. Pop if you have it. But booze, no.

On the other hand. I would not necessarily (if the oral surgeon was willing to go on record as saying that the dry socket was due to the grabbing) object to going to small claims court for HALF of the cost of the extra treatment (I think the parents who enabled the visitor to get MORE drunk with the mimosas in the fridge are partly responsible.) Small claims standard is preponderance of the evidence IE 51% likely that it happened. No lawyer’s fees (in most jurisdictions they do not even permit lawyers, and you can get your filing fee if you do win.)

But then if it had been my child (I admit I do not have one, but if it had been a child in my care,) I would have called her on it immediately, sent her home packing. Called her the next day and lit one under her for “are you absolutely crazy grabbing the jaw of the kid after oral surgery? And we had x in additional bills.” And hopefully without even saying anything further my FRIEND would offer to pay some of it, even in installments. If not depending on if I had insurance and if I could afford this mess, I’d sue for half or 3/4 of the additional out-of-pocket and maybe 100 bucks pain and suffering to go directly to the child simply because “idiot fee” because even drunk my friend should not be that dumb.

I would then explain to significant other about how “not to escallate” that kind of thing in the future please. Especially in front of the kids.

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admin July 20, 2013 at 1:31 am

A homeowner can have booze in the fridge or locked cabinet if they so desire. However, as this story relates, giving house guests carte blanche to walk into your kitchen and serve themselves alcoholic beverages may not be in the family’s best interests. What struck me about the Mimosas is that to drink it at its best, the champagne should be newly opened, the drink mixed and promptly drunk to enjoy the effervescence of the champagne bubbles. Drinking a flat Mimosa is like drinking a flat soda. Jennifer goes and helps herself to a Mimosa after “greeting” Ella?

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startruck July 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

iam shocked that the admin. called pressing charges against this women “knee jerk” and “ridiculous”. not only was this child suffering for days, but this also cost money for extra dental work. and there is a thing called small claims court for affenses such as this. dear lord, if this isnt a reason to take someone to court i would be afraid to see what qualifies. this act was almost evil in nature. iam just picturing this child with swollen post surgery gums and in pain already, and this sadistic women purposely pinching her cheeks. honestly i almost cried when i read this. it would be like kicking a women in her stomach after having a baby. i have seen people in small claims court for far less.

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admin July 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

If you are advocating the nuclear escalation to legal action without first discussing the alleged offense with Jennifer, then yes, it is juast another knee jerk drama that does not give Jennifer the benefit of resolving the problem first.

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Vicki July 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Never mind the police, I think OP should call Jennifer and ask, point-blank, “Why did you assault my sleeping child right after she had surgery?” I’m not sure there’s any answer that would make me want to socialize with Jennifer again, but Jennifer should be told what she did and that it was unethical as well as rude. (Even if no harm had been done, even if the girl hadn’t had dental surgery, it would be rude to approach a sleeping 13-year-old and pinch her cheeks.)

If Jennifer claims “oh, dear, I had no idea, I must have been drunk,” it’s time for “if you do that when you’re drinking, you should stop drinking.” I’m not opposed to alcohol. I’m not even opposed to people getting drunk if they do it safely. If someone gets drunk, assaults a child, and laughs about it, we can only hope that if they never drink again they will better control their anti-social impulses.

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rachel July 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Just giving the admin props for so eloquently explaining why the parents were in the wrong here. My mom was prone to fits of anger and it has taken years of work, therapy, and medications to learn how to modulate my anger. It’s never fair to the kids.

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Angel July 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I admit I have a short fuse which I am working on–I try not to lose my temper in front of my kids because I know that can be scary for them.

However, the situation described the OP is one that I don’t blame her for reacting as she did. Getting upset and carrying on for an extended period of time probably wasn’t a good idea, but if a neighbor assaulted my child I can’t say I wouldn’t react the same way. I probably would have taken a photo of the bruises and called the police. Taking action in this way would have been a little more proactive and positive than just ranting and raving, and getting upset about it. I have learned myself and am trying to teach my kids–freaking out like that gets you no where and does nothing–but thinking about it and taking action can help.

Personally if I were the OP, I would have gotten a lot of satisfaction out of getting my neighbor charged with assault. After that there would be no need to tell her not to contact me again–and no one in the neighborhood would talk to her anymore. I think that alone would send the message to my kids–I don’t let anyone hurt you and get away with it. Not just ranting and raving about it.

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RooRoo July 20, 2013 at 12:55 am

I *almost* totally agree with Admin. My only point of disagreement: There is one person who needs to hear the Mom get mad. That person is Ella.

I say this because my mother was always quiet and reasonable about things. I endured much bullying. She would always say, kindly, that they were wrong to do that, and that it was probably because they had a difficult home life or something; she encouraged me to feel sorry for them. What I took away was that my feelings took the back seat to everyone else’s. I would have loved to hear her yell about it! Maybe then, I wouldn’t have wound up being a doormat for so long; I didn’t even realize I was being one until my late 20s.

Thank you, Lady Admin, for E-Hell, where I have been learning how to be graciously assertive!

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Iris July 20, 2013 at 5:21 am

I think the alcohol consumption is a red herring. I enjoy a glass of wine and in my foolish youth sometimes indulged far more heavily than I should. This never, ever, led to me being cruel. Alcohol doesn’t make people behave badly, it removes their inhibitions – if you have no cruelty inside you then even if you have no inhibitions left you will not be cruel.

On the subject of the ranting – I understand, I am a very verbal person and sometimes process my emotions by talking them through. *However* even in our very small home I manage to find a quiet, private corner if I feel that I need to get something out that is not appropriate for children to hear. Or I wait until they are in bed and talk things through then. Self control doesn’t mean never expressing yourself, it means expressing yourself appropriately and at the right time. The focus in this situation should have been the injured child, not her father’s feelings.

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Lexie July 20, 2013 at 6:40 am

I think all has been said about this that needs to be said about the OP, beyond the fact that people are human and I can understand how distressing and infuriating the incident was to everyone involved, and that even grown ups have trouble controlling their reactions, especially when there is no rhyme or reason, and it effects their loved ones.

But Admin, the comment about the mimosa was rather judgmental. I cannot see how having orange juice and champagne/sparkling wine in the fridge deserves commenting on not only first, but at all, beyond mentioning potential intoxication.

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Rap July 20, 2013 at 8:57 am

“I think the parents who enabled the visitor to get MORE drunk with the mimosas in the fridge are partly responsible.”

It’s been an assumption from the beginning of this discussion that Jennifer was already drunk on arrival.

I also find myself wondering if the “can I visit your daughter” was followed up by “and then we can drink mimosas and chitchat”. I mean, a mimosa is not exactly a mixmaster’s nightmare complex drink. Its orange juice and sparkling wine. A bottle of sparkling wine doesn’t go flat in seconds. Granted, it’s slightly more involved than opening a beer, but really – my assumption – and I admit it is one, is that Jennifer was invited over/invited herself over for drinks under the pretense of “Jennifer was just seeing how Ella was doing”.

Just for clarification, I’d love it if the OP would let us know if Jennifer was already drunk and if the plan was to have drinks.

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Stella July 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I don’t blame the mother for getting upset, but the way everyone drew out their reactions is a bit worrying. Especially the father’s “this is how he deals with anger.”

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Allie July 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Sorry, I work in the law field and there absolutely is enough evidence for battery here, both the testimony of the mom and the child. Battery is considered any offensive touching, as seen from an objective standard. Objectively, grabbing someone’s cheeks after surgery is offensive touching. The bruises and similar can be aggravating factors, but from an evidence standpoint aren’t relevant. Many misdemeanor battery charges are based solely on testimony of the victim.

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