I've made a life decision in the past year, and that's to stop allowing Other People's Problems to encroach on my life. So far, it's worked well.
Now, this isn't to say that I don't care about other people's problems. If a friend has a real problem and needs someone to unload on or a little help, that's fine. What this new rule refers to is Other People who don't really want help, and who don't want to change themselves to end their ongoing problems (Anger, Illness, Codependency, any form of Addiction, you know what I mean.) These people I now simply tolerate and move on from. I'm polite, but I'm no longer getting personally involved.
I'm going to have to add a new Persona to my list of Other People to avoid, and that's Toxic People. People who raise my ire in some form to the point where it distracts me from my goals and my family's goals, and I get confused. At the Rink, this confusion takes the form of Parental Competition. I can't get involved in that.
Yesterday after I was done with my volunteer shift at the school carnival, I found my friend Lady Cluck. "Someone was looking for you!" she says.
Well, there's a blast from the past. I haven't seen Nutso since Rink Across Town shut down for renovations. "How is she?"
"She's fine. She wanted to know where you were."
"Stitch is only going to be here for four weeks of this session, so he's not enrolled. Plus he'd be in the earlier timeslot anyway, she wouldn't see us even if he was in it."
"She was asking about you. And Stitch."
Of course she was. And I could feel those old hackles raise when Lady Cluck told me that the eldest daughter was now in Gamma, but taking the Beta course again since the two younger siblings were still in that later timeslot. That's not so bad, back crossovers are important. I started to ask where Shuffles and That Other One were, but I stopped myself. That is not important. None of this is.
I felt my competitive self thinking, "but I could get him in a group class for just a little while, just to show her." Then I remembered that while Stitch isn't in Group Classes, true, he will be in Coach's day camp just about every day for the four weeks he is here. Stitch will be skating almost every day, while Nutso's kids will remain in their once-weekly 45 minute class. This is no contest, it's a slaughter, and Nutso has no idea. But that doesn't matter anyway, it's none of her business.
All the same, it was hard to forget Nutso's roving eye and sickly sweet commentary on Stitch as her eldest daughter looked at him with daggers in her eyes. The way Nutso complimented Stitch, I somehow got the feeling she'd grind off his toepicks if given half a chance, because it was all she ever said to me. Whenever I tried to talk about Non-Skating things, she'd gravitate right back to her kid's skating and how the skating school was failing them, and only kids with natural talent like Stitch could do it "at this low-quality place." I felt the need to keep him away from her then, and I still feel it now. For both our sakes. The only thing that made me happy about the jump to Pre-Free was that I'd never have to watch the Oldest Daughter glare at and be snotty to Stitch again. Nor would I have to answer questions and give advice about practice that I knew she wouldn't heed.
Nutso was definitely Toxic. From the lies about hockey, to the endless blaming of the Skating School for her son's lack of progress, the ridiculous Coach Hopping, and all the Rink Door Hovering in between, she was a piece of work. I'm sure I'll see Nutso again at Winter Show, or perhaps at Public Skate if she ever brings her kids to, I don't know, practice? Something. But I won't tell her our summer plans. She doesn't need to know. I don't need someone else thinking that with Stitch on hiatus for six weeks, their children can "catch up."
(Okay, the thought of Shuffles jumping makes me giggle, so I'm still going to hell.)