Written by: Bridget Daniels Carlson
As a Military Spouse of almost 13 years, I have pretty much seen it all. I became a Military Spouse at the age of 20. So most of my adult life has been that of a Military Spouse. Although I didn’t get the true Military experience until we moved on post for the first time in 2005. By then, I had been a Military Spouse for 6 years. At first, there were no issues. My neighbors pretty much kept to themselves. Then we moved from old housing, into new housing. Again, nothing really to complain about. I was loving living on post. I lived on the short end of the street and knew almost all of my neighbors, in fact we all became pretty close friends. Life was grand (for the most part), until they started moving one by one.
At our next duty station we had to live off post due to no housing availability. We were there for two years before being moved to Fort Lee due to BRAC. When we first got here things were fine. After about a couple of months the back door neighbor came over to introduce herself and immediately started bad mouthing the neighbor that is within my housing unit (we live in 2 story duplex’s). She then went on to tell me other great stories of how the girl that runs the outdoor rec is having an affair with one of her friends husbands, and so on and so on. So immediately I decided to not make this person a friend. I’m not really into the whole high school drama stuff, nor do I need a friend that will be spreading rumors about anyone. Now, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t nice to her. I waved whenever I saw her outside and would tell her hi. But she was not someone I was going to become close to by any means. I guess she took offense to that (you will find out why here shortly). Oh and my neighbors are awesome by the way!
Now we have been here on Fort Lee for around 10 months. My youngest daughter played frequently in the backyard of this woman’s house (the backyard neighbor) as she had a trampoline and I always checked on her frequently while she was there. Their back yard and ours face each other. Then during the winter months my children really didn’t go outside that much. Now fast forward to 2 weeks ago. My youngest daughter (who is 11) came in crying because the kids at the bus stop where calling her a thief.
This is where I am going to pause for a moment. Bullying to me is unacceptable behavior whether done by a child, an adult, or an adult having her child do it by spreading rumors. I am going to give you this short story and then I am going to make a shout out to all Military Spouses, young and old. We need to stop this! We all need to stop the rumors, grow up, and act like adults!
So I asked her why they were calling her a thief. She said that L’s Mom told S’s Dad that G’s Mom (the back yard neighbor from the beginning of this post) said that my daughter was a thief and has stolen a lot of her daughters dolls and that they should not allow their kids around my daughter (are you still following?). Now she said all of this in front of her own daughter, who then told the rest of the kids not to be friends with my daughter because she steals. Now I could not confront this Mom (as an adult of course) because we had no idea where she lived, until this weekend. My daughter and S come inside to say L’s Mom is on her way here. I asked why (now mind you I have informed my daughter to just steer clear of L because of what she has done and we don’t need to associate ourselves with people like that). She tells me that her and S (who were across the street at the park) were playing and L came up and had mud all over her. So my daughter just asks her if she knew that she had mud on her. Well L goes back home and her Mom starts yelling at my daughter and asking where she lives in which my daughter tells her and then runs home (as I have instructed her to do if any adult starts yelling at her or trying to have a conversation with her).
L’s Mom shows up at the door saying that she doesn’t appreciate my daughter saying mean things to her daughter. That they just got back from (the place escapes me now) and that her daughter was muddy because of it. I said ok, all she did was ask your daughter if she knew she was muddy. Then she says no, she told my daughter that she looked like she pee’d her pants because she has a wet spot on them. I said ok and I called the girls downstairs who both said that is not what my daughter said. I then sent them back upstairs because I didn’t feel it was appropriate for children to be part of this adult conversation. L’s Mom felt differently who had L beside her. I said wait, are you the one who has been telling other parents that my daughter is a thief and not to allow their children around them? I then stepped outside on the porch. She quickly changed the subject and turned around and said I’m going to get the MP’s and the witnesses. I said wait you’re calling the MP’s because my daughter informed your daughter she had mud on her pants? She said yep and continued to walk.
About 5 minutes later she comes walking back up with her daughter (no witnesses though). No MP’s. She says I called the MP’s. I said ok. Of course my husband already had an off duty MP on the phone (one of his buddies, who by the way found the situation funny). So I call the MP desk in which they inform me there have been no calls. I let them know that there is a Mother who wants to file a complaint about my daughter telling her daughter she has mud on her pants, please send an MP out to my house. Needless to say the Cpl at the desk sounded very confused. She then says wait no that’s not what I called them for. I called them because your daughter was at the park unsupervised and she isn’t 12. I then inform her the age is 10. She says oh well I only called because another parent told me that I needed to. She then says even then she isn’t old enough to be there alone (at the same time her daughter is 9 and was at the park unsupervised). I said, my daughter is 11 and is old enough. She says oh L is only 9 so I just assumed your daughter was the same age. Again her daughter is 9 and was at the park unsupervised, yet she is calling the MP’s to let them know my 11-year-old daughter (who IS old enough to be there alone) was at the park?
The MP’s show up, tell me to have a nice day after they hear the story in which I didn’t really even speak a word, and tell her to walk over to the MP car. Not sure what happened after that, as I went back inside. Oh and as for her spreading the rumor of my daughter being a thief. At first she said she didn’t tell anyone, then a couple of minutes later, said she told S’s Dad. Honestly, she couldn’t seem to keep any story straight she was giving me. The point here is she spread a rumor IN FRONT OF her child who then spread that rumor to other children which makes her just of guilty of bullying as it does her child.
Now, I usually don’t air my dirty laundry, but this story needed to be told to make a point. Plus I want you all to know that I go through the same things as you do. Just because I am a writer doesn’t mean I am shielded from what has become your typical living on post experience. I do want to state that all of the above is unacceptable behavior. First off, Military Spouses share a unique bond. Things are hard enough being a Military Spouse without other spouses starting rumors and making trouble! STOP IT! GROW UP! You are no longer in high school. You wear the rank of Military Spouse and you are making us all look bad not to mention, guess what? It also reflects badly upon your spouse! Instead of spreading rumors and acting like a child, act like an adult. Get to know your neighbor. Don’t spread rumors. If you have an issue with a child, go to the parent calmly and without accusations! Believe it or not, almost all situations can be diffused in a calm manner without the need for name calling, yelling, or rudeness. ACT LIKE AN ADULT! Your children model your behavior! So if you’re going around acting like a bully, so will your child. And for the love of God, don’t allow your children to be involved in what is an adult conversation. They don’t need to hear what you’re saying.
Bullying in this country has gotten out of control, and to know that Military Spouses are bullying other Military Spouses and children is absolutely disgraceful and disgusting! Yes, spreading rumors is a form of bullying. Just shut your mouth! Teach your children that spreading rumors is inappropriate behavior and will not be tolerated. Could you imagine how nice it would be to live in a community where the adults acted like adults and handled both good and bad situations like adults? We already have enough stress in our lives. Why do you feel the need to create more? STOP IT!
On that same note, respect your neighbors and community! Be mindful of how you treat those that live in your community. You never know, they may actually be a bridge you need someday!
What creates a stressful community beyond having the rumor mill going in full force? Blasting your music at all hours of the night so loud that things fall off of your neighbors walls, is not good manners nor are you helping to build a strong community. Leaving trash all over your yard, is not only unsanitary but is a huge eye-sore. If you share a wall, be mindful of the fact and try to keep your noise level down. After all this is Military housing and the walls are paper-thin. Older spouses need to model a behavior that is appropriate in front of the younger ones. I firmly believe that the younger ones will model whatever behavior they are taught by others when first becoming spouses.
I also want to point out that all of this is happening at all ages within the Spouse rank. The story I have given you were from spouses that were in their late 20′s and early 30′s, possibly even older. This situation is something that could have very easily been handled if only she had acted like an adult. I was calm the entire time and actually tried to have a conversation with her about just general things to lighten the situation up, but she wasn’t going to have it. She just kept acting like a child in front of her child. I’ve been asked before how I can stay so calm in these matters. Honestly, this is where I have to give props to my Mom who taught me to “kill them with kindness”. Not only does remaining calm help defuse a situation, but it allows you to stay in control of the situation and you will be seen as the more mature, calm headed, rational person. Which when you’re dealing with the MP’s can be a very good thing!
So knock it off, grow up, and STOP IT!
Here is my call to all of you that read this. Leave a comment showing that you are ready to stand united and say enough is enough. You will rise above others and shut down the rumor mill should it come to you. You will not spread rumors. You will teach your children to not spread rumors. You will act like an adult. You will not bully other adults or children by spreading rumors or allowing your children to do so. You are ready to live in a community that you love and are happy to call home. You are ready to STOP IT!
Bridget is a Mother to 4 and has been a Military Wife for 13 years. She is the author of the Dear Military Spouse column which currently appears on the USMC Hangout website and Examiner.com where she is the National Military Marriage Examiner. Bridget is a native Texan but the Army has currently transplanted her to a place known as Fort Lee, Virginia. She is outspoken, loves a good debate, and doesn't like when people beat around the bush. She's never had a problem "telling it like it is". FTC Disclaimer About Reviews: The Company or Publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or product unless otherwise stated in the review. However, I will always give my honest opinion of any book or product I review, no matter the circumstances in which I received it.
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