Last week, as I sat at my desk at work typing frantically, trying to meet a deadline, my ringing phone rudely interrupted my concentration. The caller ID displayed my 14-year old daughter Melissa's cell phone number, and I naturally assumed she needed me to stop at the store on the way home for poster board or some other craft for a school project due the next day.
I assumed wrong.
Seems that one of her friends, at some point during her school day, had said something to hurt her feelings. It did not matter what had been said, all I knew is that this eighth grade girl had uttered words that had caused my daughter pain. Worse still, I knew that those words were most definitely NOT TRUE, because my kid is the most beautiful, talented, and wonderful person to exist on the planet, and I'm not just saying that because she is mine. Honest, it's true!
I put my deadline project aside and turned my attention to the task at hand, a task I have tried to perfect since 8:30 pm on
July 1, 1997..........making everything all better.
We chatted for a few minutes, and hopefully, my words of encouragement made an impact. However, after hanging up the phone, I found it difficult to resume my concentration.
How dare someone say hurtful words to my daughter! I needed to take action, to fix this, to make the hurt go away, to make everything all better!!! There were several options on the table.
Option 1: Find this girl who hurt my child and beat her up.
(No, a prison jump suit would definitely clash with my skin tone.)
Option 2: Call the girl's mother.
(No, Melissa had specifically requested I refrain from involving the moms, knowing full well it would only result in a new label for my poor kid, "tattle tale." )
Option 3: Do nothing, stay out of it, and let her work it out on her own!
WHAT! No. Stay out of it! Unheard of. Motherhood is my passion, my purpose.....I HAD TO MAKE IT ALL BETTER!
I returned to my project, still stewing with anger, and thinking about simpler times when a mommy's actions did, indeed, take all of the pain away.
As a preschooler, my sweet toddler always greeted me with open arms, a smile, and an enthusiastic account of her day. However, on one memorable occasion, I walked into Melissa's classroom only to find her at the table, coloring a picture, and practically in tears. I placed my large, adult frame into a chair built for a pint-size playmate, put my arms around her, and prepared to make everything all better.
"Mommy, Shawn said he didn't like my picture!" she cried.
(Hmmmm, should I beat up Shawn?)
I picked up the picture and examined it closely. "Melissa, this is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen," I said reassuringly, wondering silently if the drawing in my hand depicted some sort of animal, or maybe a flower....I honestly did not know.
"Really?" she sniffled.
"Really!" I said. "And as soon as we get home, I am going to hang up your picture in the house because it is so pretty."
And true to my word, that very evening the picture earned its rightful place on the refrigerator door, and Melissa forgot all about that stupid Shawn!
Since that fateful afternoon over a decade ago, we have packed up our belongings three times until finally settling into the house we now call home. Each time I went through the arduous task of filling boxes with our treasured memories, Melissa's picture has held a precious place of honor.
Today, that same picture (which I have since learned is, indeed, a flower) hangs in my bedroom, along with many other works of art molded by my daughter's creative hands over the years.
However, no other drawing emits such emotion. For it is the beautiful flower, drawn by a precious three-year old, that reminds me of a time when the simple act of placing a picture on a refrigerator door was all I needed to do to make the pain go away.
Now, at age 14, I know Melissa is in those precarious years between innocence and adulthood, and all of her experiences will help shape the amazing young woman she is destined to be. I can offer support, and guidance, and of course, unconditional love, but I have to know when to back away and let her handle what life throws at her....no matter how much I want to fix the problem.
Seems later that evening, Melissa and her friend were now texting away, the hurtful words shared earlier now a distant memory.
As hard as it had been, I am so glad I decided to stay out of it. Option number three.....the best choice for me.
Although next time, I can't promise I won't challenge the offender to an after school duel.
Because nobody hurts my daughter! Nobody!
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It is so hard to watch our children go through pain. You're so right, though. When they are young, hugs, snuggles, and kisses fix everything. But in those teenage years and beyond, sometimes they just have to experience the hurt. And it hurts us moms like hell.ReplyDelete
Lisa, this is one of the hardest things we have to deal with as parents. We love our kids so much, and do all we can to make sure they know that. Then some pipsqueak comes along and tries to puncture a hole in the love we've wrapped around our kids. I know just how you feel.ReplyDelete
When my daughter was in 2nd grade we moved and she was in a new school. She wanted to join a Girl Scout troop and one of the girls in her class, who was already in the troop, pretty much told her she wasn't welcomed. My daughter came home in tears, believing that was the "gospel" and she'd never get into a troop. Needless, to say I made a few calls; I never told anyone what that kid had said to mine. I just moved ahead and enrolled her into the very same troop. Over time, that kid came around and pretty soon they became good friends. Years later, it came up and she told us how she regretted having said that. It was mean, it was hurtful, but in the end, it passed.
What's important is the love and support you give to your child over their lifetime. Those incidents, which make us feel so bad, are fleeting. We as parents, are not. Hope that makes sense. :)
Thanks for sharing your story Monica, I can so relate! It makes perfect sense!ReplyDelete
You did the right thing, Momma. You stayed out of it. In the long run, the more we can stay out of our kids' hurts, the better; they have to cope on their own finally. It's a SUPER hard lesson I'm finding, and my son is only 8. He's been very hurt this year by a friend who has said things, well, that hurt. I would never confront the boy or his mother. But I can do what you did, talk to my son, put a perspective on it. The thing I always want to say is that none of this will seem so earth shattering years from now. Of course, that will fall on deaf ears as it does with all children growing up, having to feel their way through their early years. You're a good strong Momma!!ReplyDelete
Wow, thank you Sandra!Delete
Isn't it amazing how you really feel capable of making the other child's life miserable when they dare to hurt our babies. I remember when my first child was a toddler and he got bit by another toddler. I thought I was going to faint!!! And, then the words come! I'm so glad you were able to stay out of it, good for you and good for your daughter. I think it's so empowering to them when they solve their own issues and I think it's so great that she trusted you enough to tell you. Good job Mom!!! Not an easy thing to do!! I didn't like being 14 the first time, I can't believe I have to go through it 3 times more!!!ReplyDelete
You did the right thing but Gosh how I wish to slap this other kid's face... Sorry, as a mother, we often think with our guts then our brain.ReplyDelete
I am with you, Lisa! Nobody hurts my kids! It is a crazy instinct, isn't it? One I never knew existed until I had kids. I am definitely mama bear, and I can tell you are too. You overcame your desire to punish those who hurt your baby, and it worked out for the best. I have to remember this!ReplyDelete
I know... thanks Laura!Delete
My mother used to tell me how much it hurt her when I'd come home from school, sometimes crying and lock myself in my room, because Leslie, or Ann, or one of my other best friends, ignored me, or hurt me in some way. She did stay out of it and 9 our of 10 times, we were all friends again, the very next day. Teenagerdom sucks. But brava for letting the situation run is course.ReplyDelete
It was hard, I hard to use all my willpower not the call the other mom!Delete
I am sorry this happened to Melissa and you. It is hard to be a mother, but we all go through the same things. I think experiences as Melissa just had creates opportunity to rethink how important it is to choose your friends carefully. And sometimes even good friends make mistakes. Time it is everything in this case. They might become best friends one day. You never know.ReplyDelete
As mothers, it's natural for our protective instincts to kick in when someone hurts our children. This post resonated with me. I remember feeling the same way many times as my children grew up. What to do? At times the best thing is what you did--stay out of it. As long as our children feel our unconditional support, that's all that matters. These difficulties add character and allow our kids to problem solve.ReplyDelete
I so agree Bella!Delete
Lisa, I had this happen recently too. A girl had said horrible things to my daughter in a Facebook message. I went through the same thought process as you did (beating up teens crosses my mind a lot these days) and ended up deciding to print the message out and take it to the school counselor (the girl had indicated she was going to start trouble at school, so it was justified). When I accessed the account, I found I had bitten off more than I could chew. Not only was that girl in trouble, but I found that another boy needed to get in trouble and that my daughter should not have a Facebook account. She got in trouble, the boy got in trouble, the girl got in trouble, and I prayed for Calgon to take me away. I talked to the principal, the counselor, a parent, and even considered pulling my daughter out of school and home schooling her so she wouldn't have to deal with all of the social crap. But then I guess that's part of how they learn about life, so that's the rub.ReplyDelete
Hi Cindy - thankfully my daughter hasn't had too much trouble yet with Facebook - I just thank my lucky stars that Facebook wasn't around when I was in high school. I was on the victim end of some bullying, and FB would have made it much, much worse!Delete
Really, our kids forgive much faster than we can. I guess we have to take their lead. Chuck lots up to misunderstanding, forgive ourselves. Man it is hard!ReplyDelete
I know what you mean, sometimes I think we can learn more from watching kids than from watching our peers!Delete
Sometimes all people need is reassurance of their value and strong support system!ReplyDelete
Kristin that is so true, if kids feel they are loved, they'll be ok!Delete