The other day, I wrote about how my daughter chose to take one of her late grandmother’s collectible bears to school. Off she went, beaming with happiness. The kids who arrived home that night was a different kid, however, a kid who sat on my couch and cried. Apparently, a boy in her class told her the bear was ugly.
Now, I knew it wasn’t about the comment about the bear per say. It was the fact the comment hit multiple nerves. It was a dig at her bear, sure, but to her it was also a dig at her late grandmother, a woman she has no memory of but still thinks of lovingly. It was a dig at her very hard thought about choice of which bear to take. It was a dig at her pride. It was personal.
As soon as he said it, she cried. The teacher said she may want to go to the restroom to clean up, but my daughter went into the hall to have some time alone. I felt awful for her, and frankly, pretty pissed off at this kid who hurt her. Afterwards, the teacher pulled them both aside to get some info on what happened, and the kid apologized. She didn’t seem to think that the apology was sincere, and came home looking pretty defeated.
I sat feeling torn while listening to this. The mama bear in me wanted to rage. The honest mom in me, who knows my daughter is going through a stage where she’s not always mindful in her tone wondered if she had ruffled the kid’s feathers and he had retaliated. Also, I knew I had to find a way to explain that some kids are just little assholes.
I asked her a lot of questions. We talked about her feelings, and how they were deeper than the bear itself. I asked about what led up to it, had she said anything, and we discussed mindfulness of how she speaks to others. We also had a long discussion about how sometimes, when someone is mean to you, it’s not about you at all, but really about what’s going on with THEM. I finished off by saying that not everyone will like her, and that’s OK. She is great as she is and shouldn’t change to appease people. She also won’t like everyone else, and that’s ok too, but she should still attempt to be respectful whenever possible. It was a good talk.
I was still mad though. I think she was too.
Then she told me the same kid had called her stupid a week or so ago. Then I wanted to rage.
But I didn’t.
I paused to think about what to do next, to sleep on it, and make a decision when I felt less ragey. I’m still deciding. Do I talk to the teacher and mention it? Do I hold off and let my daughter handle it? I’m struggling to allow her to fight her own battles but also to not let her end up in a losing battle feeling alone or unprotected in some way.
This is where I left it. I told her that if it happens again, to confront the boy, ask what the problem is, and tell him he is acting badly. This made her nervous she would get into trouble. I told her she will never get in trouble with me for defending herself and standing up for herself when someone is being nasty to her. I explained that she has to be her own best advocate, and that I would back her up and support her. She knows that if she needs me to step in, I will. I also explained that people may tell her that boys may be mean to her if they like her, but not to fall for that because it is a lie. I said boys that like you will be kind to you.
Raising kids is hard, I tell ya.