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Author Topic: Overstepping  (Read 7497 times)

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Pumpkin Spice

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Overstepping
« on: May 29, 2017, 01:57:39 PM »
Hello.  DH and I have found ourselves in a predicament involving another family. Because we feel emotional about the situation and don't wish to come off childish due to that, we could really use some non-biased insight as to how to move forward in a civilized way that will possibly still allow us to remain acquaintances and occasionally have play-dates with these people.  Why?  Because the other family's kids are genuinely nice and we don't encounter much of that in our rural neck of the woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gmatoy

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2017, 02:16:09 PM »
I'm not sure of the problem. It seems that the class is full, so you can't send your daughter to that school. Am I understanding that correctly?

If so, all you have to do is return the books, tell her that you appreciate the information and let the subject die.

If you think, as I did, that maybe the class is "full" is because of her input, maybe you should call Jeff, tell him that Marge was a little, um, not sure what to say here...maybe "over-eager"? And give him a chance to get a feel about you. If you really want this school ask about a wait list. However, if your daughter gets in, please let the school (and any individual teachers) know that you want radio silence about your child except to you directly. No need to mention Marge, but they will read through the lines.

I will be interested in hearing the other posters suggestions, because the collective brains always think of things about which I haven't thought.

Mustard

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2017, 02:23:16 PM »
I think I would still like to speak to Jeff directly, even if only to point out that you did not need, or ask, Marge to intercede (interfere?) on your behalf. Whatever your feelings about the situation are, your job at the moment is to find the best possible education for Ashley.
I understand that you really like the other family's children, but are you prepared to be treated as though you cannot manage your own lives? I wouldn't discuss such issues with Marge again, but would keep conversations light and non-committal.  I think I would just return her books, and wait to see what she has to say for herself; if she can't resist telling you all that she's done for you, then would be the time to tell her she's trampled on your boundaries.

FauxFoodist

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2017, 02:24:30 PM »
Hello.  DH and I have found ourselves in a predicament involving another family. Because we feel emotional about the situation and don't wish to come off childish due to that, we could really use some non-biased insight as to how to move forward in a civilized way that will possibly still allow us to remain acquaintances and occasionally have play-dates with these people.  Why?  Because the other family's kids are genuinely nice and we don't encounter much of that in our rural neck of the woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would hand her back her books, thank her for all her information and the loan of the books and tell her that it works out that Jeff's class is full as you and DH evaluated all factors and realized this is not in your DD's best interest at this time then leave.  There is no point in having any more discussion with her regarding her e-mail.  I can't believe she'd send over the entire conversation as I'd be pretty offended.  Also, there's nothing to be gained by stating surprise over Jeff's class suddenly being too full.  I wouldn't want my child interacting with Marge or Jeff if Marge thinks just this type of interaction is appropriate and would think nothing of interfering elsewhere should your DD go to that school.  I know if I were you, I'd have some rather unpleasant things I'd want to say to her.

As far as further interactions, I wouldn't.  You say your children interact with each other very well but how long do you think that would last once they figured out how Marge treats you?  It's one thing if the kids get together on their own to hang out, but I wouldn't do family things with them anymore.  Also, why would you want to remain acquaintances when you find Marge and her husband to be "mostly arrogant and condescending?"  However, should you opt to continue this relationship, I'd not have the discussion about her overstepping boundaries.  You're not close friends; this would not go well.  What I would do is stop her in her tracks the next time she wants to discuss something where you feel she might overstep boundaries.  "Thanks, but we have it covered" then bean dip would be a good start.

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 02:39:23 PM »
 Thank you for all the great advice so far.  I do want to clear something up that I didn't realize would come off the way it did.  I actually do fully believe Jeff's class was full and that him saying so had nothing to do with Marge's "heads-up".  I had no intention on bringing any of that up to her.  That was me being a bit snarky in the post which I regret.  Oopsie..  :-[

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2017, 02:42:04 PM »
I'm not sure of the problem. It seems that the class is full, so you can't send your daughter to that school. Am I understanding that correctly?

They say there is another option for another class with a different teacher but Ashley wouldn't be with Bella which is fine but now we just feel like going in another direction entirely.

TootsNYC

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2017, 03:55:13 PM »
One etiquette point of view--you need to be doing some of the hosting, in general.

And from this point, I'd just treat them as "parents we don't know, but kids whom our children like," and invite their kids to come over now and then.

katycoo

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2017, 04:19:59 PM »
The decision on where to send your child to school is far bigger than whether 1 girl will be in her class, or whether you're on good terms with one family.

I'd give a lot of consideration as to exactly why you are no longer interested in this school, beyond this one family.

Kiwipinball

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2017, 04:31:32 PM »
If Jeff's phone number isn't available to the public, I'm not surprised she felt the need to give him a heads up you'd be calling. That seems appropriate and not because she thinks you can't manage your own life. If I gave out a coworker's contact information (that wasn't readily available), I'd let them know too.

It does sound like she gave more details than she needed to (struggling with subject, etc) but other than that I see no problem with the e-mail in general.

Either way, I wouldn't confront her about it. You can let her know you're going in a different direction (whether because of Jeff's class being full, something else, or a combination thereof) and keep as close or distant as you want.

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2017, 04:34:08 PM »
One etiquette point of view--you need to be doing some of the hosting, in general.

And from this point, I'd just treat them as "parents we don't know, but kids whom our children like," and invite their kids to come over now and then.

Our house isn't suitable for company right now and we explained that to them.  I brought the snack this time and declined on the dinner invitation for the very reasons you bring up.  It was in our plans to possibly bring a meal to them next time or wait to meet up again until our house is suitable for visitation. 

The decision on where to send your child to school is far bigger than whether 1 girl will be in her class, or whether you're on good terms with one family.

I'd give a lot of consideration as to exactly why you are no longer interested in this school, beyond this one family.

That is precisely what we did.  I just didn't feel the need to lay all that out here so I clipped most of that out of my post.

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2017, 04:38:34 PM »
If Jeff's phone number isn't available to the public, I'm not surprised she felt the need to give him a heads up you'd be calling. That seems appropriate and not because she thinks you can't manage your own life. If I gave out a coworker's contact information (that wasn't readily available), I'd let them know too.

It does sound like she gave more details than she needed to (struggling with subject, etc) but other than that I see no problem with the e-mail in general.

We agree with you on this.  It was fine to us that she gave him the warning but ALL she needed to say was our names and that she knows us and we'd be calling in reference to our daughter possibly being in his class.  That's all.  The rest was insulting.

Harriet Jones

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 04:43:08 PM »
I see where you're coming from, but I think your best bet is to just limit your interactions with them.  I doubt any confrontation, however polite you make it, is going to help at all.  Keep conversations superficial, have playdates that don't involve the parents coming over.

neptunes

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 04:56:49 PM »
I do think that your previous interactions are informing your reactions.  I don't see her email as being terribly egregious.  It sounds as if she were trying to give some context or background.  Also, I often end emails with "Please contact me if you have any further questions."  It is almost a habit at this point.  I am curious as to why you wanted to contact the teacher rather than the school.  I get the sense from your post that this is a non-traditional school. Perhaps this is the norm.  In my experience, though, normally this type of contact would be through the school staff, not with an individual teacher.  In any case, I would let the matter drop, especially as you don't have or intend to have a close relationship with Marge.

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2017, 05:19:09 PM »
I am curious as to why you wanted to contact the teacher rather than the school.  I get the sense from your post that this is a non-traditional school. Perhaps this is the norm.  In my experience, though, normally this type of contact would be through the school staff, not with an individual teacher. 

It is indeed a very nontraditional school.  It was appropriate with the way things are done there to contact the teacher.  Wish I could explain more but for anonymity, I need to leave it at that.

Pumpkin Spice

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Re: Overstepping
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2017, 05:37:54 PM »
Thinking we'll probably just forgo any confrontation unless further prompted.  As for the future, playing it by ear seems like the best course of action.  Thanks for all the help. :)