I feel angry and I mean mamma bear angry. You see the one thing in parenting that gets me fired up more than anything is when my daughter gets bullied at school. No, you do not mess with my child…PERIOD! Let me tell you.
It began a few days ago. I picked up my daughter, Remy, from school. She was clearly upset. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, she began to speak. “Mama”, she said, “I did not have a good day. Penny (not her real name) was mean to me today; she bullied me.” I encouraged my daughter to tell me more. Do you know how hard it is for me to stay in my adult place when I hear this. I want to sound the trumpets, call in the brigade, hell I live beside a military town I want the whole army to come in. I am ready to fight back. What I really want to do is go talk to this child myself, give her ‘the look’ that I mean business, and then I really want to go talk to her parents too. But I could not become the bully to the bully herself. We had to go through the proper channels.
Bullying IS NOT OKAY….EVER! Unfortunately, this is not the first time this year that she has been bullied.
After calming down and talking it through, my daughter and I came up with a plan of action. We would together send a message to her teacher about what happened. There was a substitute that day so her main teacher needed to know. My daughter wanted her teacher to become aware of the happenings that day and wanted Penny to stop the unkind remarks and threats. Friends, we are talking about 5 and 6 year olds here who are just starting school, not teenagers. But I suppose that bullying is no respecter of persons. This BREAKS MY HEART that bullying is happening this young now. This is a MAJOR problem!
We sent the message. When I picked up Remy from school the next day, she had drawn the picture above and gave it to me. AND my heart sank! I was filled with a heavy sadness….and then the anger. Katy Perry says it best…. “YOU ARE GOING TO HEAR ME ROAR!” My daughter goes on to tell me that her teacher did address the issue. She talked both to my daughter and Penny and set some consequences for Penny if she continued with her behaviors. Well, she continued to bully my daughter the rest of the day. This time it was because my daughter told on her.
Again, I had to stay in my adult place. I was hoping for the best, but no. Another setback for my daughter. I encouraged Remy. I told her she did the right thing. I explained to her that the differences between safe and unsafe people in the world. Telling her that while she had to interact with Penny some because they are in the same class that she did not have to be friends with her. I shared that mommy and daddy have limits of who they want to be around and that we chose not to be around those who treat us poorly. My daughter in her gracious mercy decided that she wants to give Penny one more chance. However, she came up with a new plan of how to respond. In her honesty, my daughter said I want to just tell her I am not her friend anymore. We brainstormed some other options as well like ignoring Penny’s behaviors because Penny is probably looking for ways now to get my daughter in trouble (or that is the story I make up). We talked about saying hello to Penny but not getting sucked in to the ways of Penny, not allowing Penny to pull Remy down into the cowardly behaviors of bullying. We encouraged Remy to speak honestly with Penny that she did not want to be friends with someone who was unkind to her. We also decided that daddy would talk to the teacher about Remy’s plan of action. He did. Remy’s teacher is on board and wants our daughter to stand up for herself and no put up with anymore hurtful comments from Penny.
Penny decided to harass my daughter again the next day at school; however, their teacher had had enough. Penny is now at a different table…alone with no other students. This was her consequence. This change seems to be helping for now. However, the story will continue. I don’t think we are out of the woods yet.
In going back to the picture and words that my daughter drew above, I asked Remy….tell me about the heart. She said it means wanting to be friends (the pink side) and not wanting to be friends (the pink with black lines side) and this confusion she has around that. Profound from my 6 year old daughter…who by the way is my greatest teacher in life!
I love my daughter. She is a gift, delight, and joy to me and I tell her that as much as possible! I will continue to love her and help be her voice when she can’t speak for herself AND continue to teach her how to use her voice. My brain is already thinking of ways to help my daughter be more assertive. I know my part is that I have to model that for her and I haven’t always done that well.
As for Penny, while I feel mad at her behaviors toward my daughter, in my adult place, I feel so incredibly sad for her. The reality is that she has seen this bullying modeled for her at home or from other close family members or she too has been traumatically bullied by those closest to her. At least this is my opinion from my counseling hat. We continue to pray for Penny and her family. We are moving forward from this. Realistically, it will happen again. I have to let go of my control over this situation and let God work here. It is hard, but I am trusting the process.
As for me, I will continue to work on my own anger. I know where it comes from. I have my own history of trauma as well as stories of being bullied as a teenager in middle school that never were resolved. I also have a lot of safe people (no bullies) to talk with about this. I am so grateful today for my recovery that has helped me become the true version of myself.
Until the next story…Beth