I've run into another pickle with my children's playgroup. Well, it is more formal than a playgroup but we'll call it that for convenience.
A bit of background: The playgroup is within a part of a local chapter of a larger national group so it goes something like this: Mom's Playgroup > Local Mom's Chapter > National Mom's Group. We have frequent playgroup meetings and less frequent chapter meetings. I run a Meetup group to manage the playgroup that is separate from the chapter so people not involved in the playgroup don't get unwanted notices and information. For the most part we all share the same views on raising our children. We have with a few minor exceptions a great group dynamic and a awesome time at each event.
Well, today was a pretty major exception. I have a loose policy of only adding people that are within the local chapter or a close friend of a chapter member. I usually get a chance to meet and talk to someone before adding them but it isn't formal or anything. A member from another chapter recently moved to town and discovered we have a playgroup. She asked three separate chapter members about our playgroup and they all told her to contact me. I was unavailable for a few days due to a move, no internet and exhausted and she repeatedly contacted those same members. One woman told me that this new member called her seven times within a few days. Another woman said she ran into the new member at a preschool and she was also very "aggressive" about joining. But they all shook it off thinking she is new to the area and has a bit of anxiety about getting her kid into a social group. It is understandable with relocating and having a young child so I also let it go.
Since she was a translant from another chapter and she really wanted to join us I added her to our Meetup group this week without actually having met her in person. To be fair, she did go to the last meeting late and I missed her because I had to leave early. So I let it slide. Boy, that was a big mistake.
Today I met her at a playgroup meeting at a member's house. She interrupted some of the lessons with personal questions of the mom leading the activities. She held up her smart phone and insisted someone help her figure out something right then and there. What got me was that instead of talking to people she just questioned them endlessly. Everyone submitted and then disengaged from conversation somehow. Her kid was clinging to her terrified while she ignored her and asked everyone consistently where they live, where they used to live, what their spouses names were, how old their kids were and on and on. It was like she was collecting information or something. I heard her do it to some people and figured she was just nervous. I made time to talk directly with her and she laid into me like a debt collector. I tried to slow the conversation down and ask her about herself and she just replied with a vague answer and went back into interrogating me. I told her I was uncomfortable with so many questions and then she stepped even closer to me and asked another question. My heart raced and I was very intimidated by the gesture and denial of my request to cease the questions. I moved in to her to clear her from my space and said "Well, it was nice to meet you" and immediately walked away.
As I sat in another room some other women saw that I was upset and I said that I just had a difficult interaction with this new member and needed to calm down. As I was regaining my composure I listened to other bad experiences these moms had just had with her as well. They were being very careful about not bad-mouthing but were trying to respectfully convey that this may not have been a good fit.
I was willing to give this woman the benefit of the doubt but when she wouldn't stop questioning me after I clearly expressed discomfort it had gone too far. She wasn't respecting a boundary I set about the kind of information I share on a first meeting. There was also a forceful physical gesture that she made during her last question that triggered an adrenaline rush. It was very odd and she seemed unstable and aggressive. I care about her as a human being and can understand a bit of her moving anxiety but she really freaked me out. I felt unsafe like if I didn't tell her what she wanted to know that she was going to get physical. So for that reason I'm not messing around with it and I'm simply removing her from the Meetup group. I plan to send her an email to let her know it isn't going to work out. I don't question her removal but I do question what to say.
I could use some help figuring out how to word her removal letter. She IS still a chapter member but I'm booting her from the playgroup. I also told our chapter leader what was up and heard a bit of a story about her behavior at our meeting. I get the hint she might be unstable so I didn't want to say why she is being removed but I want to make it clear that she is no longer in the playgroup. Here is what I have so far:
Dear (New Member)
Thank you for introducing yourself to the group today. I’m writing to inform you that we will not able to maintain your enrollment in (playgroup). I realize you are actively pursuing schooling options for your daughter and hope you can find the right fit soon.
Any suggestions on wording are most appreciated. Thanks E-hell!