Last week S. told me she was too upset in school as one of the girls at her table was mean to her. She was making fun of her and said in the front of the whole class that S. didn’t do her homework because she goes to therapy because of her special needs. I was SHOCKED. I took a deep breath and asked how this girl knows S. goes to play therapy every Wednesday. She admitted she told the girls. I was slightly surprised but I didn’t want to carry on about that. Why? because I think it’s great she feels comfortable talking about what’s happening in her life, it looks like she is OK with it ? Even though I’m not sure she realises that not all people and most importantly, not all kids in her class are all friends. I’m not sure what to think of it. I’d rather she wouldn’t. Because of moments like this. But I didn’t comment on it. I didn’t want to upset her more, I didn’t want her to think it’s wrong to share such an important details of her life. Maybe just not with everyone. But it’s a subject for different conversation. So, this girl said such a mean thing, S. felt bad. I asked if teacher was there. She said yes and she told this girl it’s not ok to be like that, as she also commented on another child who stutters. S. said it was mean and she felt bad for herself and other girl.
My immediate reaction was I took S. in my arms and told her that nothing that this girl or anyone else will say, can affect who she is and it will not change that she is brave, kind, smart and beautiful on the outside and inside. And secondly I would like her to memorize 4 words she must use next time she faces a situation like this. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINNES. Not exactly kind and in the spirit I raised her but maybe it’s time, maybe she needs it. I really hope one day this gentle and shy girl will be able to stand up for herself. I highly doubt she would say it to anyone but this time she was so upset she said she will.
When I cooled down I emailed teacher to ask if she can tell me more about this day. I was hoping maybe she could shed some more light on what happened. Turns out she wasn’t aware of what happened. When I talked to S. again, when she was less upset, she realised that teacher probably wasn’t aware of what was going on. She admitted its possible teacher heard only second part of the chat when the other girl got upset. I kept S. home day after that, as she didn’t do homework again (due to her bowel blockage) and I didn’t want her to stress out about it.
In the end the teacher offered to meet me. I actually didn’t want to. Because there was nothing else she could say to make it better, nothing that would comfort S. or me. S.’s life is not easy due to her condition. Lots of medical attention and pain. She is fragile mentally and emotionally about her condition. Situations like this one don’t help. Gently said. Let’s face it – it makes a lot of damage. In the end of email to teacher I said I would appreciate if she please kept an extra eye on things over the next while. But now when I think of it I regret not asking if the mother of the “bully” knows about it. And yes, I used the word bully because if someone mocks vulnerable people for fun and attention….. that’s a bully to me.
Last night I chat with my friend and she told me she is heartbroken as her daughter who’s 7 , was asked by another kid in playschool why is she is so fat. Side note: she is NOT. But that’s not important how she looks. What’s important is that no child aged 7-8 or any child should worry or care what other kids say about their looks or anything about their life. Another close friend of mine told me her daughter got judged by her teacher and super upset only because some other kid said she did something she actually didn’t.
I can’t stop thinking about them girls and about S. They are so young, so fragile and so self-conscious. They are facing so many obstacles when it comes to their lives and their relationships with people their age. It really upset me that they get hurt so easily by their peers. And in any given classroom, while the age group is common… the experience, upbringing, compassion and maturity level differs from child to child.
It upset me I that don’t know how to prepare my daughter for situations like this. How can I? Is there any way? Since S. was small we kept telling her its ok to be different and there is a space for everyone in this world. No matter how you look or who you are or what you like. And for the last few years we are telling S. its most important to be healthy, to be well. I’m trying avoid to say she looks beautiful – I’d rather say she looks healthy. I say she is beautiful on the outside and inside because she is kind and carrying. I would love her to be one day a confident young woman who doesn’t judge other by the looks and who knows it’s more in life. I would love her to be aware that the image that’s created by social media isn’t real – it’s a beauty obsession.
She is going to grow up with the pressure form media, from adds who try to sell products by making you feel insecure. She doesn’t need that pressure from people around her. There is enough of it in the world – no need for it in her small world (school, friends). Kids learn the attitude and views from parents. Without the proper guidance they will hurt people around them.
I’m aware I’m extra sensitive when it comes to S. because I want to protect her, she has a hard life as it is. Her situation was because of her condition but hearing stories of my two close friends made me realise that any or all kids can be damaged by the comments of others and it can be about anything : freckles, clothes, accent. And I strongly believe it’s up to us – parents- to shape and nourish our children’s mental health as well as their physical health.
Renee Engeln in her book “Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women” wrote:
“Idealized media images of women are far from being the only important target when it comes to our beauty-sick culture, but their sheer ubiquity means we can’t underestimate their impact. We also cannot pretend that what we see in the media doesn’t shape our thoughts and behaviours. It might be tempting to think that your mind is locked behind some protective wall, safe from the influence of the media onslaught, but that’s not how brains work. We are all affected by these images. Their influence is insidious, and there is no magic force field to keep it out.”
It’s an important message. I’m still not sure how to imprint to S. that it doesn’t matter how she looks or what other people think and say about her. But I will keep telling her how unique and amazing she is. I love her and will always support her.
My dear daughter – you are perfect the way you are.