Is nothing sacred?

February 25, 2006 at 11:45 PM · I have an interesting situation. I suspect that the parent of one of my students is snooping through my home while I teach the child. It all started when we discovered that the child was unable to focus with the parent in the room. The parent statted leaving the room during lessons. The other day I thought I saw him heading upstairs-a suspicion that was confirmed by the person I live with who saw him cruising the upstairs (where the bedrooms are.) Again recently, I thought I heard doors opening and closing during the lesson. Has anyone else ever encountered this odd problem? It seems so peculiar that I am very uncomfortable mentioning it to the parent, though ineveitably I will have to do so. How inapporpriate!

Replies (31)

February 26, 2006 at 12:38 AM · Wow. There is no reason you should allow that behavior. One possible way to handle it - could you talk to the person you live with, and ask them to keep an eye out for what's going on and confront if your student's parent is snooping?

Also, have you given the parent a space to sit and relax with perhaps a few magazines to browse through?

February 26, 2006 at 03:46 AM · What a creepy person. Maybe you should tell the parent that he could leave instead of staying for the lesson. My parents are practically never at my lessons. Except when they are dropping me off or picking me up.

February 26, 2006 at 05:14 AM · If this happened to me, I would not teach them anymore. It doesn't matter what actions you could take from this point forward. The damage has already been done. You don't know what the purpose of snooping was, nor what this person has discovered about you, or is trying to discover about you. Such behavior is abnormal and suspicious. Not even my best friends snoop around my house, much less strangers.

February 26, 2006 at 05:30 AM · Next lesson call the cops as soon as he leaves the room and have them check his pockets. He won't be back. On the other hand, maybe he was just trying to find the bathroom. You're leaving out information.

February 26, 2006 at 07:05 AM · If he really is snooping around (as opposed to just looking for the bathroom) I would not continue to teach his kid. I wouldn't confront him about it either, since that gives him an opportunity to deny it and try to make you feel stupid. Just err on the side of caution and dismiss him and his kid.

February 26, 2006 at 07:57 AM · I agree with Emily. Dismiss the student. Make up an excuse. I don't have any suggestions for what excuse to give; maybe someone else on can help.

February 26, 2006 at 01:47 PM · perhaps make sure your housemate is around when you have that lesson, and ask them to keep an eye out for them. If it looks like they're snooping they can go and ask "can I help you?" that way, if they make up an excuse like "I was just looking for the bathroom" then they can show them where it is. If caught again, you then have a right to question them about it (especially if caught on the same day).

I agree that the damage is done, but this should be dealt with respectfully. If you make up a shoddy excuse, the parent may take an opportunity to damage your reputation, something that is very difficult to do.

February 26, 2006 at 02:18 PM · I agree with everyone. One way or another, you cannot let this happen even one more time. Find an excuse, and get out of it diplomatically. There is indeed a line, and that parent has crossed it.

Good luck. Sandy

February 26, 2006 at 02:47 PM · I wouldn't dismiss the student. Afterall, it isn't the student's fault that their parent is so snoopy.

I agree with the fact you should get your roommate to confront the parent.

February 26, 2006 at 03:35 PM · Thanks, everyone. Sorry if I left out some of the story yesterday, but I was hurried when I posted the thread. I really don't think he was looking for a bathroom. He knows the downstairs one is right across from my music studio. The first time we thought he was upstairs because he was looking for my cat. He and his other child like to search for her sometimes, which did not concern me. Yesterday, however, he did not bring the other child, and I doubt a grown man would search for a cat. Yes, the parents have lots of comfortable places to sit, books and magazines, even the TV is right there should they want to use it. I can't really ask the parent to leave and come later, since the child is very young and I live in a place where there is really nowhere to go in proximity. They come from 15 miles away for lessons. i like the roommate idea. That totally gets me off the hook. Also, since I really have no proof, my boyfriend suggested taping a hair across the closed door and the jamb--if it is broken, then he was snooping. That is kind of silly, though. I don't want to have to dissmiss the child. I hate to do that, but if it comes down to that...

Emily, I agree. This kind of thing is so inappropriate! Maybe that is why I don't believe it myself!

February 26, 2006 at 03:39 PM · I agree with having your roommate keep an eye out and confront him if he goes too far.

Also this is a male snooping around a young female's house. You do not know what his past history is.

Let us know what happens.

February 26, 2006 at 04:30 PM · Keri, if your room-mate has already seen the person upstairs then as far as I'm concerned you have all the proof you need. Dismiss the student and give the true reason why.

I'm not sure why people are suggesting you make up some other reason. I would have thought the truth of the matter was a perfectly valid reason.


February 26, 2006 at 04:25 PM · You need to be firm with the man. You saw him, your boyfriend saw him. He probably knows he was spotted and now feels he has the upper hand because he's gotten away with it. Next time he comes be direct. Something along the lines of, "You're welcome to stay at my place during ___'s lesson. You may use this (specify) room, & this bathroom."

You might suggest an alternative activity for him such as using this time to get in a walk.

You're in charge. He doesn't have to stay inside your place because it's convenient for him.

February 28, 2006 at 04:41 AM · Why not be honest with the parent and mention that you feel uncomfortable when parents go into other rooms during lessons, unless there is a specific reason, and that your roommate has seen him do just that. Say the waiting room and bathroom are public and the rest of the house is private and off limits to students and parents. Tell him directly, using terms like "invasion of privacy" and mention that if the boundaries can not be respected, you will not longer be willing to teach the student. I would say the more honest, the better, even if it's difficult. Call him on the phone if it's easier. And the sooner the better.

February 28, 2006 at 04:53 AM · Kristin's idea seems really good. I was thinking about your situation today, and I thought "maybe she has some really old textbooks in her bedroom and his passion is learning. Perhaps his interest caused him to forget propriety." Still, a phone call seems so good...

February 28, 2006 at 05:05 AM · The hair is too complicated. Prone to failure. Prop a toothpick against it:) Consider a "These premises protected by Smith & Wesson" sign from the local Harley shop. More fun yet, put up a video camera shooting down the upstairs hallway during the lesson.

February 28, 2006 at 09:16 AM · How about some type of guard dog? Doberman? Pitbull? Rottweiler? Or you could have one of those mats they sell around Halloween that scream when you step on them.

February 28, 2006 at 12:39 PM · I think that the U.A.E. has recently become available to help you guard your house, since they may not get the job of guarding our ports.

February 28, 2006 at 01:13 PM · Make it so when a he opens the door a croquet mallet swings down and hits him in the head.

February 28, 2006 at 02:24 PM · You could always install a security camera to see just what's going on.

February 28, 2006 at 02:27 PM · Security cameras sound expensive...I like Kristin's idea...confront the parent and ask them what the doors where you heard. Make sure they do know where the bathroom is, too! In fact, next lesson, start off by making sure they know where it's at...that might solve the problem right there!

You won't get anywhere by turning your house into Indiana Jones' Temple of won't even make lesson money!

February 28, 2006 at 03:14 PM · Actually this is a good thing. If it wasn't him you heard walking around up there it would mean your house was haunted.

February 28, 2006 at 03:37 PM · At this point, I'm convinced the haunted house might be a better view of the situation...this is freaking me out!

February 28, 2006 at 04:15 PM · Do you have doors that can be locked?

Sometimes, though, all you need is a good sign that reads, "CAUTION: Hazardous Waste Containment Area".

Though that's usually more effective in outdoor locales.

How about a dog gate across the hallway and a sign that says, "Please do not feed the Rottweiler" ?

Personally, I kind of like the idea of turning your house into the Temple of Doom, but then... well, that's just me. :) A little scattered flour to mark footsteps, a hair across the doorjamb...

Instead of a croquet mallet, how about a sign that pops down in front of the person's face that says, "STOP! (just where do you think you're going?)"

February 28, 2006 at 04:27 PM · I was actually thinking paint spilled on the floor, but flour would be easier to clean up!

You could always pull the rafters out of the ceiling in the basement so the floor collapses under the parent, and if you have carpet, it would even contain the parent, kind of a parent trap. You would be able to see the carpet bulge through the ceiling, or in the case of tiles, see the parent fall through the ceiling, and then you would have a reason to arrest them. All you would need is a warrant. Or you could just lock them up in the room you leave them in until the lessons are over. (I hope you don't try any of these crazy ideas...we're joking!)

February 28, 2006 at 04:33 PM · You say the person you lived with knows about about have them sort of secretly pay attention to this person...periscopes are easy to make, you just need a long cardboard box, cut square holes at the top and bottom, and tape a mirror in at each end...

But seriously, see if this other person will stay home long enough to find out what's going on.

February 28, 2006 at 04:48 PM · I once read about a strategy in which someone in your position poked a hole in the top of her medicine cabinet and filled the cabinet with ping-pong balls.

Seriously, though, it is unacceptable for that parent to be snooping through your house. I try to think the best of people, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which it makes sense for that parent to be wandering around upstairs. My daughter has lessons at her teacher's home studio and both of us go out of our way to avoid even glancing at mail or other personal stuff that might be lying around. I wouldn't even take a book from a shelf without asking first.

However, since you have no proof a confrontation might be very uncomfortable, especially given that someone who takes such liberties has probably done so in the past and may have more experience with these confrontations than you do.

If I were in your shoes, I'd have a housemate around to keep an eye on the parent. If that's impractical and you don't have a studio elsewhere, you might have to dismiss the student. I suppose it depends on how much the student means to you.

The main thing is that the situation is bound to be distracting to you-- how can you concentrate on teaching the child if you're worried about the parent rummaging through your underwear and financial files?

February 28, 2006 at 06:17 PM · "I once read about a strategy in which someone in your position poked a hole in the top of her medicine cabinet and filled the cabinet with ping-pong balls."

I am having sooooo much fun visualizing this!

February 28, 2006 at 07:54 PM · Someone snooping your Financial files is definitely scarier than snooping your underwear. Underwear -- it's their problem. Files -- that's your problem.

The parent is quite possibly just looking for the cat. Maybe they just can't sit still. It's definitely impolite and strange, but it may be innocent. A locked door or a sign that says "Private: please do not enter" may be enough.

I agree, though, if your housemate is able and willing to keep an eye on this fellow, it would be useful and possibly reassuring.

I'd suggest, though, that removing the rafters from the ceiling might endanger any instruments kept on the first floor, so should probably be avoided.

March 1, 2006 at 12:28 AM · Greetings,

got to beg to differ with you here Patty. Someone snooping underwear is definitely errring towards the dangerous ballpark.

Surpised Keri has been so low key about this.

First thing you need to do is go to the police. Its not that you need to press charges or anything like that. But you get it on record so that if he turns out to be a stalker you are in a much stronger position.

Then you politely but firmly dismiss the student explaining that you have a new job or whatever. The extent of your obligation to the studnet is trying to fidn a new teacher for her. If yo0u can`t you can`t.

When you do dismiss the student have your boyfriend in the house and make that obvious.

Its tough, but you don`t fool around with stuff like this. Ever.



March 1, 2006 at 12:55 AM · If we'd established he was doing that, then I'd think about a solution:) Make sure he knows to stay downstairs for starters. Then take it from there.

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