Emotional suffering and social skills

“It’s not my job to prevent my child from experiencing pain. It is my job to prevent my child from feeling alone in their emotional pain.”

I have survived a tormenting week. And yet, if I would go back in time, I would take the same course of action. 

I spoke up during an incident among kids. And it got worse before it got better. It does feel like we didn’t make any progress, on the contrary, people are more weary of speaking up, because it is easily blown out of proportion by reactive neighbors. 

Someone read a poem on Saturday about suffering, thanking got for it, making it a friend. This older lady had gone through chemo the past year and her physical suffering brought on a slew of support from family and friends. But I dare say that emotional suffering, harassment, injustice, loneliness in it all… this can be more painful than cancer. 

I can easily slip into overthinking. And in my mind I would run the same events over and over, like a detective trying to make sense of what happened, and what cause me to address things calmly and how things got out of control. 

I did raise my voice at the kids. As they were all denying pushing my youngest daughter, one of the boys was in my eldest daughterțs face, hands over her head. Jackie is quite collected and strong, and she seemed unfazed by him trying to intimidate her (I guess thatțs how he plays, he has some social deficiencies and kids make allowances) but the sight made my blood boy. I yelled at him. I told him how dare he say he didn’t do anything when he is in my other daughter’s face and I’m right there. He was the one who apologized to my youngest for pushing. 

The atmosphere then calmed down but my heart was still racing. 

The mom who felt slighted and reacted in the moms’ group, left in a storm. She excluded herself, and I should have left things be, but I felt I needed to invite her back as things calmed down. So I did. She apologized for overreacting and things settled in my heart too. The weight of causing such strife lifted and I can go back into my cave. I don’t socialize as much as I think other moms do. We have different interests and energy level for small talk. 

But last night after dinner, and after spending plenty time playing outside, the girls wanted to go for 15 more minutes “to get tired and sleep better”. Bad idea. Not all kids were fed or rested because emotions ran high. The mom who overreacted came called by her son, to tell the kids how to play, as her son didn’t like the game he kept loosing at. 

I have gone out to sort things out only twice since I moved here. One when we were new and the boys were chasing Jake threatening to beat her (not sure it was a game or not but she was genuinely afraid because she had never had a gang a boys threaten to beat her). And the second time was last week when ivy came in scraped above her knee, and a week later she had this brown scab from scraping the wall. When she got pushed (and they were playing rough, tugging, pushing, one-sided to be fair) the little girls were playing with stuffed toys and two boys were trying to grab them from them. It was not a game they mutually agreed, but somehow they tolerated it. She heard the two boy laugh behind her as she fell, pushed by one of them. When someone falls, she has the kindest reaction. Very empathic, ever since I met her. She runs to them and asks: “are you ok?” She has taught me to have a more empathic response. That was not in my repertoire. And I’ve learned from her. Now, take this kind empathic kid, push her against the wall of a house, which is rough and more scary than the ground, and then laugh at her. I totally get her reaction of coming to me. She has had worse falls, off her bike, or the scooter, playing ball, running and so on. But as I over reflected on the incident I realize she felt emotionally distressed. She was behind the car, out of sight, cornered and laughed at. It still makes me cringe. 

I called it out as an act of aggression against a younger kid, and especially a girl. I was angry that they both denied any wrongdoing. But I was calculated. As I said, I look back, and though my determination to not let it slide was fueled by repeat offenses, and denial, I thought to myself that I will get to the bottom of this once and for all. The kids now freeze when they see Conrad or when I go outside. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. It was a terrible painful week. I know I was not alone in my endeavor. I believe that most moms were on the same page. But just as I needed to make my stance clear I also need to leave the door open for communication and reconnection and repair. If this kid has no motivation to earn his trust back, he will only get worse. From where I stand though, his victim mentality and not taking responsibility is fueled by the parents. Ah, to see a train derail under your own eyes and be blessed to do only so much. 

I took a stand. I believe I made myself clear. As incidents will happen again I will voice record the interactions I will be part of. But in the end, this difficult days as learning opportunities for the kids about integrity, courage, responsibility. Boundaries and clear communication. My girls talk back and defend themselves. And they could have been overly coddled and protected because of their past and trauma and gender. But I am raising strong daughters of empathy and courage. May it serve them well. I know I am feisty, and I borrowed that strength from all the women who loved me. May it serve my daughters as well.