Lack of words, lack of actions hurt.
Just because “kids can be mean” doesn’t mean they should be. It doesn’t mean we should allow them to be. It doesn’t mean it is acceptable for them to be — particularly in the school building.
So why is it happening? Why is it allowed? Why can’t it be STOPPED?
It is my job to protect my children — it is my one main purpose in this life, and I take it very seriously. Yet it seems I am powerless to protect my own daughter, my daughter who — even on the best of days, in the best of circumstances — struggles minute after minute, hour after hour with her tics, her obsessions, her compulsions, her inability to stay focused and organized.
In a fantastic school district with impressive testing results, concerned staff and involved parents, I am unable to keep my child from suffering at school. How can a parent feel so helpless?
My proudest moments as a parent have come when teachers and other parents have told me of how my daughter(s) stood up for a friend when someone was being unkind; took the hand of a scared and shy classmate and asked her to come play and not to worry, that it would be ok, that she was not alone; became the “peacemaker” of the classroom by trying to help everyone get along and be kind to each other.
I have heard time and again of the kindness of my children to others, and I value that far above academic success, athletic ability and artistic inspiration. If my children listen to nothing else I’ve tried to teach them, I hope they’ve heard how important it is to believe in your values and stand up for them when necessary, and to not compromise them for popularity or other gain — and that means kindess rules.
And kindness is not just refraining from saying or doing mean things. Kindness means being aware of when someone feels different or left out and going out of your way to help that person feel included and accepted. It means watching out for others, and not allowing people, even friends, to mistreat them.
It means that even when one is in the inner circle and feeling very happy, it is that person’s *job* to watch for others who might be unhappy, and on the outside looking in, and to reach out to them. That is what I teach my children. Though I am starting to feel alone in this endeavor, judging by the behavior of many in Bean’s grade.
Purposely excluding a classmate is hurtful. Many parents seem to have a different opinion about this: They believe that if the kids are all close friends for one reason or another, that it is natural that they stick together and exclude others. They have told me this in many different ways.
They believe that if my daughter feels excluded, it is her own fault, and she needs to get her own friends. The fact that she has close friends, but they are not in her class this year, is irrelevant. That these girls, who are all together in the same class this year, EXCLUDE Bean at lunch, at recess, when picking partners in class, when choosing groups in class — it is unacceptable to me.
They are FORCED to be together by the school, Bean does not have the choice of sitting with her close friends during lunch. She must sit with her class. She had no say in the class in which she was placed, or the kids who were also placed there. And yet is is OK for them to tell her they don’t want her to sit with them? That they don’t want to be her partner, so she gets left alone with no partner? That she is not allowed to play with them at recess? How is this OK???
If I ever, ever, EVER found out one of my children was behaving this way, I would NOT tolerate it. That is a deal breaker for me. Yet, I feel very alone in this sentiment. These parents (and even the administration, to a large extent) believe that it is natural for girls to have friendships with some and not others, and if they don’t like someone, that person should find someone who does like her.
But they have NO CHOICE over who they are with in the classroom! If a group of friends are all placed together in a class, how is the odd girl out (who is on sports teams and is in Girl Scouts with these girls, by the way) supposed to find someone else? How is this situation NOT supposed to do lasting damage to her?
Bean has scars from this year that will never, ever go away. Damage has been done that has set her back and caused her to question her value, her worth. She is forever changed.
And I could not stop it.
But hell will freeze over before I’ll let it happen again. I know my rights. I know her rights. I know the law, and it is on our side. And the time for trying to play by their rules is over. This coming school year will not be a repeat of last year, it will be shockingly different, or the school will have to answer to the state, by way of me. Yes, little ol’ me. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
There won’t be a second time, believe me.
I’ve been careful and nice and generous and kind and fair. But if any of this nonsense starts up again? All bets are off, and I will do what I have to in order to protect my girl. I have the law on my side, and I will NOT back down.
So watch out, mean girls. There’s a new law in town. And, actually, plenty of older ones. And your days harassing my daughter are over. And your parents’ days of harassing anyone who challenges your meanness are over. They just don’t know it yet. But they will.
I am not afraid.
I will protect my daughter.