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Like a good bra…

October 1, 2014

bluebraThe Girl had her first major run in with a mean girl last week. We knew she would be fine, but for a few days, she was deeply hurt by the actions of her classmate. She was forgiving but not sure they’d be friends. I think that’s fair.
People asked if I wanted her moved away from the mean girl. Here’s the deal, people. Mean people are everywhere. You don’t like everyone, and not everyone likes you. It’s called life, and even our precious little children must learn to cope. We can shelter them all we want, but mean people are everywhere, and they suck.
I’ve heard story after story of girls being left out by entire groups of peers, blatantly omitted from activities and playdates. I’ve heard about the horribleness of middle school, but these are young girls. Girls whose mothers still have to arrange such things and drive them from place to place.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If your kid is mean, it’s probably your fault. I’m sure that’s hard for most parents out there to hear. In extreme medical circumstances, you get a pass. Otherwise, it’s your job to raise them to be kind, polite, respectful human beings. Seriously. No matter what.
Don’t get me wrong. Some things will slip through the cracks. No child is perfect (well, except mine, of course. And maybe my niece), and no matter how many times we remind them to say their pleases and thank yous, sometimes, they just forget. They’re just kids, after all.
I’m looking at the big picture here.
I think it’s time for us all (yes, YOU) to sit down with our children and remind them. It’s a basic message: be nice to each other.
The root of it all is jealousy. Goodness knows, I remember being so envious of Margaret St. Jean and her big perky boobs. She had them before anyone else. I was so far behind in that department, I was picked on for not wearing a bra. I didn’t need a bra, of course, but that one girl still ran her finger down my back, reminding me of the missing clasp. Despite all that, I was never mean to Ms. St. Jean.
So about this jealousy thing. I get it. It’s hard not to get sucked into everyday comparisons of houses, friends, social calendars, cars, or whatever. You name it. Someone’s got it better. It’s impossible to compete.
I’ve been warned about middle school. The girls become even more ruthless. Sixth graders must develop a thick skin to keep up. Hey, I’m all about a thick skin. It’s probably pretty handy for thwarting the occasional break up, job loss, death, argument with a friend, or whatever else real life hands us along the way.
What if, though, what IF? What if, in addition to developing a tough exterior, we teach our girls confidence and self worth? With more of that, there’s less of the other. If she feels valuable, she won’t need to hate that girl because she has nicer shoes. It simply won’t matter if she likes who she is. As a result, she’ll like what she has.
It’s a lofty goal. We can’t end jealousy forever. But still, there’s so much work to be done. We have a mess of broken, angry girls. Can we teach them to be more tolerant and respectful of one another?
It lasts too, ladies. Grown women acting like children, gossiping and berating, is commonplace these days.
Although it makes me sad to think of future encounters my girl (and yours) will have with the mean ones, I’m optimistic. When confronted with the issue this week, mine said, “I may not want to be her friend right away, but I forgive her.” That’s a start. We talked about reasons people are hurtful. I can only hope she’ll remember how she felt, and think twice before making anyone else feel the same. If not, I’ll be here to remind her.
Let’s work on sweetening up our girls. Teach them to be supportive and stand up on their own (like that bra!), and maybe their friends will follow suit. I’m in if you are. Dads are welcome too. Cheers to raising (and wearing) good bras.

Originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta GA on September 25, 2014

One Comment leave one →
  1. Les permalink
    October 2, 2014 2:04 pm

    Love it!

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