We’ve just had an interesting experience around here, and it’s one that shows that the argument that your kid has to go to public school to get socialization and interact with others is pointless.
My kids both went to public school for a few years before we began homeschooling. Oldest is now in his early teens, and is most decidedly not allowed to date or have ‘girlfriends’ yet. He can, however, have girl friends, and thanks to Facebook, looked up some old friends from his public school days.
One such old friend happens to be a girl. Said girl accepted his friend request, they chatted a time or two, then he attempted to chat with her a couple of more times and she didn’t respond. No biggie, right?
No biggie until the other night, when said girl’s mother drives by my home and screams out that my son needs to stop stalking her daughter – her daughter who is still (at that moment) friends with my son on Facebook.
Now, just in case you’re not getting this whole picture, let me break it down for you:
- If the girl didn’t want to be friends with him, why was she still Facebook friends with him? She could have deleted him, and boom, over and done.
- Since when does stalking consist of attempting to start a conversation with someone you are friends with? I mean, if this is how we define stalking, then I’m guilty of stalking every member of my family and all of my friends.
- Most concerningly, this girl and her mother were never told where we live. They were never invited over, never given our address for a birthday party, never told that if you go to this place and turn this direction, we’re the X house on the left/right/north/east. This woman, who accused my son of stalking her daughter by attempting to start conversations, stalked my son so she could drive by our house and make that accusation.
And this is a woman whose child goes to public school, and who probably went to public school herself. It just goes to show that the idea that public school will teach you proper interaction is a big crock – alternatively, if that is supposed to be proper interaction, then it’s more proof that homeschooling is the best option for us, because that’s not the kind of interaction I want my kids to think is acceptable.
The really difficult thing about this situation was that we had to do some serious digging to determine who this was. The use of the word “stalking” indicated to me that it was someone he had a lot of contact with. So there was one girl who met that criteria, but when I confronted her mother, it couldn’t be them because they’re not even in town. It came down to crawling photos looking for vehicles to find her – something I didn’t really want to do, but felt I had to in order to know who I needed to protect my son from.
Needless to say, once we found out who it was, I took control of the situation and deleted the girl from my son’s friends. I then blocked both her and her mother before using my own account to send the mother a message letting her know that I knew what she’d done and that further attempts at harassing, threatening, and/or stalking us would result in my contacting our local sheriff’s department. I have not heard back from her, and I’m sincerely hoping that means that she’s realized just what a major line she crossed, and how far over she crossed it. I’m hoping she realized how childish, immature, and downright stupid her actions were.
In the meantime, I feel forced to restrict my son’s freedom in our neighborhood out of fear for what this woman might do. If she went to the trouble of stalking us to find out where we live so she could drive by and shout, what else might she do? Maybe it’s overreaction on my part, but I can’t help but think that these are the actions of an unstable person and I can’t simply assume that this is the worst thing she will do.
But I’ve also turned it into a learning experience for both of my children. We’ve had a conversation (the first of many now) about how important it is to choose our friends carefully, to be careful what we say to people and what information we give them, and how, when they do start dating, it will be crucial that they treat the young lady like a lady and avoid anything that gives even a hint of disrespect, lest her mother be off her rocker and wish to make crazy accusations – okay, so I didn’t phrase it quite like that, but you and my kids get the point.
**Before anyone gets bent out of shape, yes, I am also aware that this could simply be a symptom of the digital age as well, and that it’s an indication of how online interaction has eroded our manners, boundaries and common sense. While this is certainly true and possible, my point here is that this is a child and parent who almost certainly attended public school and this is how they behaved. My son has the same internet access as they do, perhaps more given that we homeschool and thus he has more free time, and as part of our homeschooling (and just the simple fact that I am his mother and it’s my job), I’ve taught him that there are boundaries we don’t cross, online or off, and that there are certain things that are acceptable and certain things that are not. I’ve taught him that he needs to remember that there are real people on the other side of that computer screen, who have real feelings and thoughts and opinions and that he needs to remember those things as he considers what he wants to say to them. All lessons that this mother, and possibly her daughter, need to be taught.
What’s the craziest interaction you’ve had with someone? Was it online or off, and how did you react to it?