My heart ached a little and tears sprung involuntarily to my eyes when I went to check on my sleeping 9-yr old one night about a month ago. Slumber filled the air as she and her younger sister, in the bed across the room, snored softly. Oblivious to the hurt of being shunned by three of her besties earlier that day.
Girls. Mean girls.
It’s an epidemic as old as time. And yet in a world filled with such advancement and social awareness, we seem no further ahead when it comes to solving issues of teasing, bullying and exclusion. In fact, I have countless entries in my childhood diaries, spanning years, where I was at the mercy of my best friend. And though she was not the first to crush my spirit I ensured she would be the last.
My happiness literally hinged on whether she chose to talk to me on any given day. I tolerated this for years. YEARS! I have no recollection, written or otherwise, of confiding in my mom. Certainly not a teacher. A friend or two, maybe. But mostly I just dealt with it. But even without the diaries to remind me, I still carry those memories with me all these years later. Because when you give someone the gift of your trust and loyalty and they repeatedly disregard your feelings, that betrayal stays with you. Always.
Innately we want to fit in. To be accepted. Boys. Girls. Men. Women. From the clothes to the hair. From hobbies to sports to jobs. No doubt you’ve either been in a clique or been excluded from one. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m comfortable enough in my own skin that I don’t feel the need to be liked and accepted by everyone. I can look past the gossip. I can see through the petty behavior. I choose to not let it affect me. I know who my friends are.
But when it’s my child, that’s an entirely different matter. This situation with my daughter and her ‘friends’ has awakened the mama bear in me. I took it to Facebook where the support was immediate, the outrage and sadness mirroring mine. Since my children were babies I have prayed this moment would never come. And then when it did, I prayed it wouldn’t last more than a day or two. It went on for more than three weeks. This time.
When you witness your child’s spirit crushed it is like having your own heart ripped into a thousand pieces.
After the first week, I had traded in all my wisdom and new-age parenting approach for the clichés. Into the second week, and especially since the situation had escalated into ‘accidental bumping’ in the hallway, I approached my daughter’s teacher. As it happened, before she had a chance to intervene, the girls made up. But things went sour again a week later. This time I promptly enlisted the teacher’s expertise and she immediately and effectively intervened.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
While my daughter is delighted to have her friends back again and she no longer dreads going to school, I am finding it hard to be so forgiving. It enrages me to think of someone else controlling my daughter’s emotions so blatantly and taking away her desire to go to school, something she loves, for fear of being ostracized. I would also be naïve to think that this is the last time we will be dealing with this type of scenario. I just hope my daughter and her siblings are strong enough of character to be able to push through the negativity and come out smiling at the other end.