Thursday, April 16, 2009

Parenting hurts.

I am not remotely ready to handle certain aspects of parenthood.

I'm not ready to think about letting my kids out into the world on their own where I can't protect them from all the scary bad guys.

I'm not ready to watch them realize the world is often unfair and unjust.

And, as I discovered yesterday, I am nowhere near ready to watch them fumble through awkward social encounters with kids who will try to wreck their self-esteem.

It simply hurts too much to see it happen.

Yesterday we were at a video shoot for a local ministry. They needed some kids to be in the video and my girls were invited. It was a fun experience for them and everything went well until Kai discovered the "big" girls who were also part of the shoot. And like any little girl, she just loves big girls and wants so badly to be around them.

The scene that unfolded as a result broke my heart. They girls couldn't have been older than 10 or so, but to Kai they were practically grown-ups.

Kai enthusiastically approached the bigger girls and tried to get them to notice her.

"Hey! Do you like my outfit. It's my Nina's outfit. Well, not my Nina's outfit, but she gave it to me. I mean, she bought it and had it at her house and then she helped me get dressed today. So, anyways, do you like it?"

The girls only response? They rolled their eyes and started laughing at her. And Kai covered her face with her hands and walked away.

At which point a part of my heart broke away.

Honestly, my face got hot and my eyes teared up and for the first time I realized that I would never be able to protect her from feeling small or silly or unwanted in a social setting. I've always known that there are mean girls out there who will hurt her feelings or belittle her and that no matter how fiercely I want to protect her it will be impossible. That was my elementary school & middle school experience every single day. But to see it happen to my little girl right in front of me and to be powerless to do anything about it nearly did me in. Especially while I'm high (or low) on post-partum hormones.

Luckily I was able to soothe her heart and build her back up in time to send her back out to play with the other, smaller kids. But that was this time. What about next time? How will I protect her from mean kids? How will I prevent these types of things from crushing the beautiful vibrant spirit she has and that she tries to share with everyone she meets?

It hurts to know that this is part of growing up. And that it won't be the last time I have to see her hurt because of a mean kid. But, I'm hoping (and praying) that God will give me the wisdom and sensitivity to handle these occasions with a spirit that will turn these into experiences that make her a stronger more compassionate child.

How have you handled bully problems with your kids? Have you had to deal with physical and/or emotional bullies? How do you make sure your child walks away stronger than before?


Crayl said...

I can no tell you how much this also pains me. My son happens to let it slide, he is amazing, but I want to give those kids what for...I have to control myself. I didn't witness it a lot with my twin daughters, now 19, because I was a single working mom, so they were in school and childcare. But now, I see almost all of what happens, ouch.

Peanut said...

My daughter is only three, so she hasn't had her feelings hurt too often yet, but when she does, I've noticed that I take a lot longer to heal than she does.
It is mostly her older cousin who treats her like what she's doing in unimportant. I just try to keep reminding her that it doesn't matter what her cousin thinks, if she thinks something is special then it is. As much as it hurts to watch these encounters, I try to be present as much as possible to be able to catch them in the moment and deal with them right away. (But inside I sure want to tell that other kid off!)

Amy said...

Bullying is a problem that I feel is still not taken seriously enough. Ellen actually posted some thoughts recently about a little 11yo boy who was bullied at school and ultimately committed suicide. Here's the link.It's just so sad that someone so young was hurt so bad by his peers. I don't know what the solution is to this problem, but I do know that it involves everyone.

My oldest is a free spirit and the most friendly thing you've ever seen. And, so far her peers have received her well, but I fear that as she gets older that may change. And I worry about how that may alter her personality.

Whenever I hear her (or my other daughters) say that someone is strange or weird I remind them that no two people are alike and that that is what makes the world so fantastic. I then ask them how they would feel if someone said that about them.

I try to teach them to appreciate people's differences because their uniqueness is what I love about them so much.

I guess as parents the best thing we can do is to continually stress how much we love every single thing about them as individuals and hopefully that will counteract any maliciousness they experience.

Good Luck and thanks for sharing :)

Amy the SaltyMomma

Halie said...

Not even a parent and this hurts reading about it.
I can't imagine all of the things that come up in parenthood that are so hard to handle.
Kai is so sweet and caring, I hate that those girls made her feel like that.

Fiona said...

Awful. That's just heartbreaking. I haven't faced this yet, because Iain is so little. But I'm not looking forward to it. I believe (and earnestly hope) that having loving parents and a solid home life can really help, so at least you've got that covered.

Katy said...

I've actually had to deal with this myself this school year with Kayla. The main thing I've learned is that girls are mean from a very early age!

Kayla rides the bus every day and there's another Kindergarten girl who has scratched her, hit her, and the last straw was her pulling Kayla's backpack while she walked into the building and made her head hid a pole! The girl has also told her she would be friends with all the other girls except her. I definitely contacted the school about this, but being her mom, I wanted to get on that bus and spank that little girl myself!!! But there's really nothing I can do except let the right people know and possible not let her ride the bus anymore.

She's also told me about other girls in her class that are her friends, but some days she'll come home and say that she told them about something she did and they say, "I don't care" or a new outfit she has and they say "so what?" All of this hurts my heart to know that another child hurt my child's feelings.

Anyway, it happens, and all we can do as parents is to make sure we build them up as much as possible.

So I've definitely been there!