Cool To Be Kind – What to do when your child is bullied

E my soccer stud
E my soccer stud

I’m a wordsmith, a writer, and my kids have always enjoyed excellent vocabularies. Yesterday, they learned a new word. One I’d rather they not know, or understand what it feels like. It went down something like this…

“What’s the word for when no one will look at you, or when they move away from you at lunch?” My oldest asked, for that’s what she’d witnessed happening to her baby sister.

“Rejected. Or shunned. She’s being shunned.” I stated, around my hackles and all the while my insides were churning with words I would NEVER say around my children.

Oh they’ll learn them. Just not from me.

My sweet baby–who is not a baby at all–but an 8-year-old I’ve often dubbed “the Queen of the Poor Choices” is the rough and tumble kid. Tough on the outside, so sensitive on the inside–and so very much like me sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. So when I asked her how her day was at school pick up, and she burst into tears, I knew exactly what had happened. She’d been bullied at school. She was the victim of an invisible crime. And there was no way I would stand by and let that happen.

Bullying is not new. In fact, we all have a bully story to share. But this situation is somehow unique.

Someone (a friend’s daughter) started a rumor about her. The rumor spread as rumors will, and (of course) circled back to her. It took a week for this “telephone game” to reach her ears. As she told me the tale, suddenly, the eye rolling I’ve seen kids do toward her in the past week, the invisible force-shield parting of the ways when she walked around the play ground, and the most heart-wrenching one for me–the sight of her, sitting alone on the playground curb while everyone else went to find friends. Shunned.

Everything spiraled into making sense. She was put on display for the amusement of others. True, false, I really could care less. My baby was hurting, and the world stopped turning until I could help her sort it out.

After a night on the phone with the mother, a phone call apology with the one who’d opened up Pandora’s Box. A follow up letter apology, complete with a drawing of the two blondies, hand in hand, hopefully with a mended friendship.

After conversations with teacher, principal, and a few other mothers, I feel the school situation has been well handled and will continue to watch with my mama-lion ready eyes for anyone looking sideways at my girl.

But I didn’t go to Facebook for guidance. I went to my friend, face to face. Shared from my soul that this needed handling and fast. And bless her, she was on it, because we both have a heart for the girls. It’s so much easier to be mad. It takes a lot more courage to be forgiving. And, believe me, I’ve been on my knees–not just for my daughter and healing in this hurtful time, but for the girl responsible. Because it is in MY handling of the situation that my daughter will learn. As I learned from my own mother when something similar happened to me. And my mother dealt with it so handily that I almost had no idea anything in my world changed. Only that the pain stopped.

I didn’t have to hide anymore.

I could be me, and that was okay.

Here’s what my mom taught me, and what I hope E and I will show everyone affected by this, the first bully event we’ve dealt with. And maybe, just maybe, we can share this with you, and help you and yours as well.

It is much harder to forgive than to be mad.

Forgive anyway.

It takes a much bigger person to love instead of hate.

Love anyway.

It takes broad shoulders to be willing to hug someone who wronged you.

Hug anyway.

It takes extreme amounts of courage to give a kind word, and turn away the wrath.

Speak with kindness anyway.

Because it’s so much cooler to be kind.

E at the rec soccer championship game, 2013
E at the rec soccer championship game, 2013

I realize that God puts us in these positions sometimes so that we can share our true selves with our children. So that we can open our hearts, pour them out for the world to see, and almost heal our past-selves with our grown up good sense.

I ache for the kid who had to own up to her mistake,to stand up and share with the class that she’d screwed up. A little girl who had to stand up and declare that she’d told a lie, and in the wisdom of 3rd grade, is probably going to experience some residual shunning herself.

And that hurts. It’s not what I want. And it isn’t what E wants, either.

So how about my sweet little miss? What does she do, after being so wronged? She chose to forgive. Openly and readily, because she doesn’t hold grudges. She genuinely cares for any and all who are broken, hurting, even if she was the focal point around which all this began.

Would that we could all have hearts like my sweet girl.

Who is so kind, and so very cool.

Please know from my heart, dear sweet E, that I will always stand up for you. And just as I will stand on the sidelines and cheer for you, and cry foul (quietly) when it’s deserved in the games,  I will also be there to make sure you get fair play. In school, on the field, in life.


One thought on “Cool To Be Kind – What to do when your child is bullied”

  1. This is a great post, Ashley. Brought tears to my eyes. I know what it feels like to be teased mercilessly in grade school. I guess they would call that bullying now–and it’s no fun. Hug your little E for me. She’s a sweet girl.

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