Posted in Ramblings

You can’t reason with Crazy

As a teacher, I’ve dealt with my fair share of eccentric parents. Most had the best intentions with regard to their children, so I kept that in mind, and things generally worked out well. There was this one parent, though, who was genuinely crazy. The first email she ever sent was so nasty (attacking me personally and professionally) that I went to the kid’s former teachers–and eventually my principal–for advice before responding. (They said she was confrontational and nasty with every teacher.) I stuck to the issue, responded only to the issue she raised with regard to her kid, and tried to work with her. She responded with more nastiness. I asked her to come in to meet with me (people sometimes come across as nasty over email but not in real life), but she refused. She sent her kid in one time to meet with me for extra help, but he never came again, and he never came to the weekly study groups I ran. I got the sense that the parent was more interested in learning than the kid (who was actually doing well–I think he had a B or B+), which is frequently the case with pushy parents. Looking back, I think it was his way to push back.

Fast forward enough years for this kid to be in college. His younger sister swims with my daughter. My first interaction with this parent was when she was slandering several teachers in my building and spreading incorrect rumors. (We’d had an issue with a teacher who had been “placed” with us. She solved it by getting pregnant and quitting in October. We had a long-term sub, a great teacher who was active in our building, for a few weeks until we could hire a permanent replacement.) Anyway, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I turned around and said, “That’s not what happened.” This woman yelled at me, and she was nasty until the other parents started giving her a strange look because she was definitely crossing a line. Mostly, I ignored this woman. I even worked with her on a committee–until the head coach removed her from it for causing problems.

This pattern remained in place until my daughter became friends with hers. When that happened, I said, “Sweetie, don’t expect to have play dates or get-togethers with her outside of swim because her mom doesn’t like me.” (BTW–she chose to home school this kid. I think it due to the fact that she was so nasty to so many teachers that she’s afraid to step foot in a school building.) This was the only thing I said. Ever. So it surprised me when, out of the blue, I received this email from her–to my work email (keep in mind that our personal emails are all on the swim team website):

{Swim Team Name} is not a social club it is a swim team!

Recent conversation:

{my kid}: How come your mom doesn’t like my momS?

{her kid}: I don’t know, never heard that.

{my kid}: Is it because of your brother when he had my mom as a teacher?

{her kid}: ummm

{my kid}: because my mom says he never worked hard enough.

{her kid}: That’s not true.


This isn’t 3rd grade, I don’t need to “like” you.

My decision to not get to know you personally has nothing to do with  5 years ago although your unprofessional manner back then certainly made it an easy choice to not get to know you personally now.

Let me just start by saying this conversation should have never taken place because you should not be speaking negatively about a student past or present by name.

My son graduated within the district, lives and works within the district and your comments then and now continue to be unethical and unnecessary.

The answer to your daughters question is really very simple:

I tend to place myself and my family around morally sound individuals and in no way do your actions, words or life style fit in with that.

Feel free to share MY answer with your daughter and then ask her to not approach {her kid, though she spelled the name differently} on the pool deck again. Thanks.

You’re wondering about my response, so here it is. (I’ll admit I was pissed. My daughter denies the conversation ever took place. I’ve never said anything about her–or any other–student to my kids. Perhaps her daughter was fishing for information because her mom is controlling and has chased away all friends she’s made on the team? I felt that a reasonable person would have asked about this in person–but I know I’m not dealing with a reasonable person.) Please keep in mind that I missed the capital “S” in “momS” the first time around because I thought it was an error. I was under the impression that she merely hated me because I was a teacher. Yes, I did the all caps thing. Like I said, I was mad. Here it is:

I will not address this nastiness. Get therapy.

To which she replied:
I will gladly not contact you again and wish I hadn’t had to in the first place. Your work e-mail was used because this involves negetive comments you have made and are continueing to make about a past student. I simply contacted you to request that you CONDUCT YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT STUDENTS IN A MORE PROFESSIONAL PRIVATE MANNER. I chose to send this to you directly verses filing a complaint through the District, that was not done as harassement but rather as a courtesy.
{I left in all the misspellings. She must have had someone look over the first email because I’ve never seen anything so grammatically clean from her before.}
That night, she went to swim practice. I don’t usually stick around for 2 hours to watch, but when I saw her on deck (a leisure pool is in the next room from the lap pool, and it’s separated by a window), I couldn’t leave. Her daughter came up to mine, and the two started laughing and talking. This woman stared at my daughter through the glass until the coach came over (and the crazy woman looked in the stands and saw me watching her,) and then she left. If she didn’t want her daughter talking to mine, then she probably should have said something to her. I’m not telling my kid that she can’t be friendly and polite to her teammates. I want to teach her quite the opposite value.
What I learned is that she disliked me for being a lesbian more than for being a teacher, and that she meant to threaten my job. Sure, I could have explained myself, but to what end? She wasn’t going to believe anything I said, and this was only going to escalate. (And I have issues with adults who run around quoting tweens’ conversations.) I did not respond to her response. As someone who isn’t going to stand for the bullying, I notified my administration and the swim coach that this crazy woman is threatening and harassing me. (No response from my principal, but that’s not a shocker. The swim coach said she and the head of Pools and Fitness will do whatever needs to be done to support me.) If she contacts me again, I’ll see if I can get a restraining order.
So far, this is the craziest and most deranged parent I’ve had to deal with. Fingers crossed that this is it!


I’m Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. During the day, I teach English, and in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips.

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