I mean it. Some people are just mean out of spite or their own insecurities…but it still sucks and more often than not, people that tried to do right get hurt.
Mini-me and I have both had to deal with meanies lately – of the adult and child variety. As an adult, I can at least intellectualize it though I never really understand it and yes, my feelings do get hurt. But watching Mini-me navigate that course is just painful. I know I’ve written about this before – we had an encounter with a real snot nose in first grade but this is different. This is partly girls going through growing pains and trying to assert themselves while they figure things out. They are learning that they won’t always like one another, friendships change and the power of exclusion and bullying.
I’m the first parent to admit my kid is probably not blameless but it’s hard when you see it yourself and what you see, for the most part, supports what your kid says. It’s hard when other parents see it, when other kids tell you they see it, when the teacher or assistant principal tells you they see it – or hear it. To hear an administrator describe what it was like to watch my kid be bullied, immediately step in and have her tell me that mini-me wouldn’t stick up for herself for fear of one more person being mean to her – broke my heart. For those that know mini-me, you know that doesn’t sound like my kid.
I don’t know one parent who would not fight fiercely for their own child – in their defense or on their behalf. We want to protect our kids, believe them and instill in them the knowledge that we always have their back. I also know my kid isn’t perfect – and I’m the first to call her on the carpet for something. She’s had to make apology calls, write apology notes and simply say, “I’m sorry” – and mean it – more times than she would like. She understands the power of mean word or gesture – and that the best apology is not doing again. I’m that parent that wants to know if my kid was an ass – was she just being eight or is there something I can and should address? I believe that if you think your kid is always in the right, isn’t lying once in a while (likely to prevent them from getting in trouble) and is never the bad guy – you’ve got your head in the sand. But, I’ve learned that not all parents feel that way – and some of you reading may be shaking your head and saying, “not my kid.”
So, in the last week – I stood up for myself. I talked it, and then I walked it. Was a rough week but I made a change that will require adjustment – but will work and be great. When decisions are made based on what objectively works, feelings may get hurt but I believe it’s very repairable. When someone acts out of spite – it’s just mean and childish and hurtful. Mini-me watched this – she saw the anger, the frustration and then my decision making process. I explained as appropriately as I could. When she asked, “why?” – well, I said I didn’t know and that some people just aren’t always nice. A hard truth.
In addition to standing up for myself, I stood up for my kid – and let her watch, let her hear. I questioned her, had others question her and despite the really shitty situation – learned that this time my kid was in the right, wasn’t lying and had been taking the high road for way too long. She learned a whole new way to stick up for herself. As my friend Neiman believes, you can’t go wrong taking the high road – but sometimes, you have to stick up for yourself, too. Mini-me learned that it’s hard to stick up for yourself – and if you expect your friends to stick up for you – well, you’ll either have a friend for life or be sorely disappointed. For mini-me, the latter was her reality this time.
Last week was rough. This week isn’t over. We’ve both walked the walk. We reaffirmed some friendships by those that had our backs or held our hands. We both have likely lost friends and gained strength. I hope – no, I believe – we’re better for this.