Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh, to take away the pain...

It was in 6th grade for me...I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in what St. Cecilia School called "the locker room" - a small, cold room with a bathroom right off the gymnasium. PE had just ended. We were changing from our scratchy, polyester gym uniform back into our scratchy, polyester button-down top and plaid skirt, and I was in there with my friends. 

Or so I thought.

It was me and about 6 other girls - my close friends who would turn on me so fast that it felt like my head was spinning. I was told I wasn't liked, that no one wanted to be friends with me, that my such-and-such wasn't as good as other girls' such-and-such (who knows what it was? I don't even remember what the hot ticket items were back then.)

Thing is, it didn't matter. All of a sudden, the group of girls who I thought of as my best friends had other ideas in mind. 

Kick her while she's down. Make her feel as bad as possible.

They did. And I did. 

Spring forward to 2010. Here I am, a 36-year-old mom of four, one of whom is an extremely strong-willed, confident and outspoken little girl who is in 4th grade and appears to be going through a similar experience. 

It hasn't been bad this year. In fact, I thought we had moved passed the bullying that brought her to tears last year. Seems we haven't turned the corner like I thought we had. 

I wish I could tell her what I DID learn from that experience:
1. That being popular isn't nearly as important as being kind to ALL people, not just the cool crowd. 
2. That she needs to learn to surround herself with those who love and care for her, and forget those who seem to want to hurt her.
3. That this too will pass, and that in the long run, this one girl won't matter. That the sadness she feels will fade and that she will become a stronger, more loving girl because she has experienced how bad people can make you feel and she won't do the same to others.

But that doesn't matter right now, when you are in 4th grade and embarrassed because the rumor about who you like has spread and a girl in your class makes fun of you, makes you feel "unwelcome and unloved." 

It may not make things better, but I'll tell her anyway. I'll tell her she is a wonderful, kind, loving girl who makes others feel welcome when people turn away from them. I'll tell her how proud I am of who she is becoming and how she carries herself.

I'll tell her I know exactly how she feels and what she is going through. And I will. 
And I'll hope she wakes tomorrow, ready to face the day with that beautiful smile and those beautiful brown eyes. And I'll also hope that she keeps this experience close to her heart so that when she is a mom, she will know how much it can hurt and help her kids if they experience anything remotely similar.

But tonight, I'll just wipe away lots of tears and give lots of hugs to a sweet girl who needs that! 


kroane said...

Everything you said to Abby is so true. She is such a delight to be around every time I get to see her. She has such a fun-loving spirit and outgoing personality. And beyond that she is so kind hearted and genuinely loves those around her. :) I think most of us have had a time or two with bullies and you are so right Tracey, it just makes us stronger. Abby is so lucky that she has you to teach her these things! She is a beautiful young lady with a wonderful mom!

maura said...

this post brought a little tear to my eye. i remember times like this as well. grrr. kids can be so mean!

i also remember mom leaving me little notes of encouragement under my pillow. i'd discover them when i got ready to go to sleep. i still have several of those notes, that i read from time to time. they always lift me up.

i have no doubt that you are lifting Abby up, too. :) your encouraging words will help more than you know. (perhaps more than she'll ever be able to express.) with that, and the help of her friends & family, she'll be able to tackle anything!

hang in there :)

Anonymous said...

Kids can be so mean, and for some reason I think girls can be the worst! Many of us can relate to what Abby is going through and those of us that don't even know her very well wish we could take that pain away for her. I'm glad she has you - a supportive and loving Mom.

Tracey's bookshelf: read

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
My Sister's Keeper
Nineteen Minutes
The Pact
The Tenth Circle
Change of Heart
Keeping Faith
Handle with Care
House Rules
More Than It Hurts You
Amy and Isabelle
A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Widow for One Year
The 158-Pound Marriage
To the Lighthouse
Between the Acts
A Room of One's Own, and Three Guineas
The Help

Tracey English's favorite books »