Friday, I got a call from the school that Olivia had been taken to the Principal's Office and that I would have to come pick her up. I guess the upside of only working 2.5 days per week is that you don't necessarily have to interrupt anything important to do that. But it was a shock, since the Kid has only gotten more docile and well-behaved since being Olivia. Restless to get back to the Inn, sure, but a model student.
So I got to the office and found her and her friend Tyler being watched by the secretary. They were several seats apart, unwilling to look at each other. I could tell pretty much what had happened but I needed the details. When I arrived, she looked up, I could tell she'd been crying: "Mom!" She ran over and hugged me, burying her face in my chest.
Normally, the Kid just calls me Ty (to Kitty's consternation). Obviously, we're out in the world so she has to call me "mom," but I felt the emotion behind it. Something had happened that was going to require me to be very motherly. My stomach churned. I hoped I could handle it. I also felt a hot hatred for Tyler, if he did something to hurt my kid.
The Vice Principal, a stout black woman, opened the door to her office. "Come right in, Mrs. Walker. Bring Livie with you." Livie? That's what she goes by at school? Oh well.
I steeled myself. "So, what exactly happened?"
"There was a fight," the VP, Mrs. Thompkins said. "Between Livie and that boy out there, Tyler Chernobek."
"WHAT?" My eyes went wide at that. I looked over at "Livie." She was hanging her head.
"Livie was the aggressor," Mrs. Thompkins said, "But it was... in response to... hmm... well, Tyler stole some property of your daughter's."
I pursed my lips. "What did he steal?"
"He stole a pair of her underwear."
I felt sick to my stomach. That kid is two years older than "Livie," no matter how old Dylan is mentally. He's been in my house, he's been in her room.
"When she found out, instead of telling a teacher, she threw a rock at him and chased him down and bit him."
"You bit him?"
The Kid shrugged.
"We have to issue your daughter a one-week suspension."
"Oh, come on..." I rolled my eyes. "She's like eighty pounds, she's two years younger, this wasn't a fight it was..."
"There are policies in place, Mrs. Walker," she said. "Honestly, if it weren't for the mitigating circumstances, it could be a lot worse."
"Well, fine," I huffed, "Are you punishing that little punk out there?"
"The theft occurred off school property, and he didn't instigate the fight, but he will be forced to issue a formal apology."
"Great," I rolled my eyes. "He types out a note and you guys just... I, I'm sorry, this is a bit stressful, I know you're just doing your job." The words sounded like bitter defeat as I said them.
"I'm sure you're blindsided," she said, "Livie is a model student, her instances of acting out have really decreased lately."
I didn't want to say that seemed to be because she was making friends. I guess that's all over now.
I signed off on some stuff - trying to remember how to do my "Judith" signature - and walked Judith out of the building, past a very unapologetic-looking Tyler Chernobek.
In the car I mustered up a half-hearted lecture about using your words and not lashing out like that, but I was so worked up and offended by that brat's actions that I really couldn't justify it to myself.
At the end of it, all I could say was, "You really bit him?"
She shrugged and said bitterly, "When I was punching him it just made him laugh."
Savage, as the kids say.
At dinner, I had to update Kit about it, and I honestly dreaded it. Kit is so... ugh. He really tries to get everything to his specifications and to mold us into his model little family, I could tell he was not going to like this. And I was right. So first he offered a much more fiery version of the same lecture I already gave (ignoring me when I cut in with "I already said that, she already knows.") Then we sent her to bed early.
Then Kitty turned on me.
He wasn't angry, he didn't yell, but... man, was he pissed. "This is you," he said, "Your influence. You're like that, totally temperamental, won't let anything get in your way, don't know how to deal with pressure..."
I was insulted, but I tried not to let it show - contrary to the picture he was painting of me. Hey, I said, don't blame me, I've been a good woman. Nice, patient, calm. I'm different and I impart that on her. You're the one ranting and raving.
He went on and on about letting my upbringing influence my "parenting" more than I know. I clenched my teeth and told him he didn't know what he was talking about and I'd be sleeping in the spare room tonight. He said I misunderstood and was taking it all the wrong way, but I told him it was too late and I needed to be alone anyway.
In the spare room, Dylan/Olivia came to me saying she couldn't sleep and she had something to say. She asked if I was mad at her, and I said no... honestly I couldn't blame her but I couldn't tell her that was the right thing to do. Then she said she heard what Kit was saying to me and said it wasn't fair...
"It's like he forgets you guys aren't my real parents. I've been like this for a while, sometimes I just... lose it. I've got my own shit going on. None of this is your fault."
"It's my fault."
I said not to take it too hard.
Then she elaborated: "I knew he took it. I didn't say anything because he was my friend and I didn't want to make him mad, and the more I thought about it the more I thought it was kinda cool. I didn't know he was going to show them to everyone at school. All the boys I mean. Suddenly, it was not so cool."
I groaned. "Dylan... did you have a crush on Tyler? Were you trying to... entice him somehow?"
"Ew, no," she scoffed. "I don't want that. This body and him? Me? I don't like anybody, boys or girls. I just wanted to like, be friends. Honestly, if he likes me that way in this body there's probably something wrong with him."
"Well, I can tell you," I said, barely able to hold back a laugh - despite being confused, exhausted, angry and annoyed at this revelation, "That's not how you make friends. OK?"
"Yeah," she said. "OK."
We hugged it out, and she went to bed, and the mood improved between us. It took longer for me and Kit to hash things out. I basically just said "Forget about it, it's over, let's move on." If we can, of course.
I mean, part of being in a relationship is getting through these little flare-ups, right?
The last thing I had to do over the weekend was to call Mr. Chernobek and let him know what his son was up to (of course he did hear all about it) and that his son wouldn't be welcome over here in the future. He said of course, that makes sense.
He said he was going to have a talk with his son about other people's property and privacy, and I said that was good, and hopefully he can improve his respect for women.
He was a bit more dismissive about that, just saying "Mmhm, well, you know, boys will be boys."
That tensed me up, and I told him that this was a serious violation and the whole "boys will be boys" attitude needed to change where these matters were concerned. He curtly thanked me for my opinion and cut our conversation short.
After the conversation, that really stuck with me. How much shit did I get away with as a kid because "boys will be boys?" Maybe in the grand scheme of things, that's how I wound up here to begin with...