“Kids were mean to me today. They didn’t like my hair. They said I looked like a wolf. And… don’t laugh! They said I looked like a pig. It made me very sad. Just Ugo said he liked it. And Lucas was nice to me too.”
It has been a rough week for all of us. But had I known all that had transpired at kindergarten this week, I would have had a little more patience and understanding for my little girl. The outside world is rough and challenging. I grew up too fast for it as well. I have had a taste for independence very early on, but that meant that I often chose function over form. And that didn’t sit well with my old-old teacher who shallowly valued appearance. I didn’t look well put together and he resented me for being so smart. I didn’t let my mom brush my hair, and my clothes were not perfect. My first through forth grade teacher applied old “educational” methods often saying that he is soft on us compared to his upbringing 60 years prior. Kids who didn’t answer well, or didn’t do their homework properly, or forgot a notebook at home, or stumbled when reading, he would make them walk on their knees around the classroom, sit on their knees in the back of the classroom during recess, we were hit over our hands, front or back with a ruler, and often he would hit kids over their heads, with his big hand or a book. These are horror stories. And I can’t believe I spent 4 years with this teacher.
Now Jackie has an old kindergarten teacher (one of the two) who calls them bad and makes them all stand with their hand up and lectures them. I wonder if they have the good cop bad cop strategy set. But she is not as present as she should be among the kids on the days she has the morning shift. And we are slowly waking up. If she was at least fair, and wouldn’t pick on just some kids. School is almost out, but I think before summer starts we need to have a conversation about bullying – and keeping an eye on bullying among kids. They are only four, going on five, but the sprout of meanness had shown its ugly head.
This little girl with thin loud voice and very bossy, she comes up a lot in Jackie’s stories. Her grandma scolded me for letting Jackie climb too high on the jungle-jim.
Whenever Jackie would try at home a new rude line or a new behavioral reaction, and we would correct it, she would respond with: “but Maria does that!” We would let it slide, again and again, until the common denominator got more intense. Maria convinced their friends to not play with Jackie. She would say that she and the other little girls are “thumbs up” and Jackie is “thumbs down”. She would tell her she is ugly or that her shoes are ugly… or other little mean things. My heart sinks for her and my blood boils. How can a little kid be so mean? This is bullying. I’m sure she passes on what she received… But that is not an excuse to let it go on and on like that.
My heart hurts because Jackie tries to impress this girl, and continue to want befriend her, and listens to her mean words.
During this challenging day, reading a good book I reached the perfect chapter.
Telling Jackie that Maria’s opinion doesn’t matter, doesn’t seem to sink in. Because to Jackie, Maria’s actions and words still affect her. They share a class, a social group… I once had a very challenging boss, and I felt like I was suffocating – I couldn’t escape it.
Emotions are created to be felt and then given to God. “Emotion” speaks of movement, motion. Feeling are not created to be controlled, and should not linger, but fluidly move through us, beyond us, to God, gifted in prayer with all their heaviness.
The devil whispers lies about who we are. To quote this book, that boiled down the unverbalized fears that a little girl might have: “when you listen to the lies about yourself that you don’t deserve to be loved, accepted or desired, then you start to look for your identity in success, social status, superiority, and not in your Savior.” Loneliness is a terrible thing when you struggle with dismissing the lies about Who you are. Without trying to counteract any mean words, I felt the sting of loneliness. That is what threw me in the arms of Jesus, fully and completely. In the book “The way of brokenness.” towards the end, the author has a heart to heart conversation with her younger daughter about the meanness of girls who hurt and shake your trust. She reminds her daughter that girls can be rivalry, but true women encourage each other, girls can sting each other but true women sustain one another. Girls can compare with each other but true women defend one another, and we were all created to be innovative and peace makers, not destroyers of peace.”
For every struggle we experience at this young age, I am grateful. It gives us an early start to tackle big challenges at a small scale. Much like Jackie, who gets along better with boys than girls in school, I did the same as a young girl and young woman. Boys were cooler and less complicated to hangout with. We balanced each other. Only later in life I developed good friendships with other women.