I too had a startling experience with a complaining mother in a meeting. Parents like myself had been summoned to our local Catholic High School for an urgent discussion on an unprecedented problem afflicting our girls: cyberbullying. There were many experts. There were many parents.
One tearful mother stood up to give her terrible story of how viciously her thirteen year old was tormented by phone texts. It was so bad, she said, that it caused her child to start cutting herself. She found her daughter passed out in a blood spattered bathroom with a pair of scissors lying next to her limp hand. Ambulance, hospital, stitches, medication, psychiatrist, psychologist, all ensued.
The experts nodded solemnly. The parents leaned over in consolation and congratulated her for her courage in speaking. I stood up, and for the first time ever in a meeting, I spoke.
“ As a mother I am appalled by the terrible suffering your daughter has endured. And I can see how concerned you are. But I have good news. I can save her. Right now. Right here. Give me her phone and will crush it to smithereens under the heel of my shoe. Problem solved.”
She replied, with near unanimous support, expert and parental, “ How could you be so cruel? I could never do that to my child.”
I paid the price for that interjection in the years that followed by being derided, mocked and excluded. My daughter didn’t. She survived, unscarred, and thrived.