I always thought I would know what to do if one my kids was being bullied.
I always thought I'd know exactly what to say to make my baby feel better. Exactly what to say to help them fight back the right way, exactly what I'd say when I marched into the teacher's office to discuss the issue, and how I'd handle it if I didn't feel like the teacher took the matter seriously enough. In my mind I was always like Oprah or Tina Fey, championing for my under dog child with wit, intelligence and great shoes.
Also perfect hair.
I never imagined how awful it would be when my child started repeating the absolute vile things that come spewing forth from the mouths of some of the kids in her age group, or how angry I'd be-to the point of wanting to spank the shit out of someone else's kid for hurting mine-when tears came streaming down my daughter's face over something a boy had said or done to her. And I never imagined how confused I'd be when my daughter started bullying other kids, because she was being bullied.
You always think you know what you'd do. What you'd say. How you'd handle it.
Until it happens.
And in the moment that your heart breaks and your blood boils for your child and your need to protect them, your head also spins because you don't know what to say that would do any good. What words to give them to share with these little punks who are making their lives miserable.
And I also have no idea what to say when she's taking her frustrating with these boys out on other girls.
If you asked me what the hardest thing about being a parent is, and what the most important thing about being a parent is, I'd answer both questions the same way: talking to your kids.
You have to listen to every question, every complaint, every secret, every frustration, every discovery, every little thought and want and desire and whatever else might pass through their little heads, and simultaneously weed out the things that are really important.
The things that might indicate that they don't know how to resolve conflict.
The things that indicate they take everything to heart, and are 200 times more sensitive than you thought.
The things that mean they're impatient or rude or shy or pushy or controlling or stuck up or mean.
And you have to be objective enough about your own kid to admit it to yourself that they could be mean, or rude, or pushy, or hurtful.
It doesn't mean they're broken or bad, it just means they're not completely perfect.
As parents we all know that, but sometimes I don't think we really own that.
Sometimes I just wish I had more words.
Or maybe just better words.
Words that could make everything ok.
Words that could really help her understand that this will so not matter in even 6 months, let alone 1 year or 10 years.
Words that would help her really realize that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks-AT ALL, because at the end of the day, the only person she really answers to is herself.
Words that could ease all of her pain and give her the same "fuck you, I don't care" attitude that I have with bullies-or as we call them when we grow up: co-workers with slight seniority, bosses with God complex's, other moms with too much time on their hands, and girls who think that what they were in high school still counts for something.
But then I remember that I wasn't always that way with those people.
I used to care.
I used to cry over their shitty words and opinions and demands. I remember 6th grade, hiding in the bathroom until recess was over, begging my dad to keep me home from school, eating in the classroom at lunch time because I just didn't want to be seen. I couldn't bear to be noticed.
I did used to care what those kinds of people thought-well no, not really. I cared what they did. Their actions, and the cruel, unwavering persistence of their hateful words and humiliating behavior...I cared about that.
Watching your child live through even a portion of the pain you had to survive is absolute torture.
Not being able to give them any kind of answer that makes it all go away is even worse.
Sometimes it's just a shitty situation, and you have to play every card you have until you find the right one.
In the meantime, hope for the best, and hug your daughters.