December 2 09

This morning, in the car.

Isabella: You know those Snuggie things? They really are just like big sweaters, huh?

Josh: No! They are blankets! BLANKETS!

Isabella: But, Josh, they have HOODS. Hoods are for sweaters; not blankets. And they have sleeves.

Josh: They are blankets.

Isabella: sweaters

Josh: Blankets!

Eye roll from Emily.

Oh, with the eye roll.

If I had a dollar for each eye roll I see on her punim daily…I could afford to buy me a macbook. or eight. Alas, I don’t, and I had to settle for an HP one instead. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty gosh darn excited to get that puppy, if they could just send it from Shanghai already. I am sick of using a keyboard without an R and L. And the camera. I REALLY want the camera. My friends in Toronto keep skyping me but skype reaaaaaally doesn’t work all that well without the camera.

But, yes, enough about me and my sweet new laptop…and more about eyerolling, which, you know is a perfect segue into what I wanted to talk about this morning. I just came back from a third-grade-moms-of-girls meeting at Emily’s school. It seems – I have discovered – that my Emily is a wee bit of a bully. I know. THIS IS THE FACE OF A BULLY.


Not in a “I am big and bad and hungry and I’m going to steal your lunch money and punch you in your meat face” type of way. Oh no, girls are much more subtle than that. Girls eyeroll. Girls put one hand on their hip. Girls turn their bodies away from you. Girls ignore. Girls give the silent treatment. I mean, sure, we all like to think that our daughters go off to school every day and it’s all rainbows and unicorns and all the girls sit in a nifty little chain and braid each others’ hair and give each other the chills and sing kumbayah while roasting marshmallows on the playground at recess. But, sigh, life it not like that at all.

and while my daughter is no Regina George and never shouts “Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen” and calling her friends whores and losers and forcing her friends to tell her she’s perfect all the time..


But I am nervous for Emily. I worry for my daughter. A few of the moms at this meeting worried for their children in other ways. My heart broke for the mom who said that her one wish for her daughter was that ONE morning she would wake up and WANT to go to school. My heart broke for the mom who hates the no one wants to play with her daughter. For the mom whose daughter is, well, a victim.

Emily is different. Emily is outgoing. Emily started her first day at a brand new school in a brand new country and while I stressed for her, she happily ran into school and came home with a laundry list of phone numbers and awesome new friends that she calls on the phone and plans sleepover and playdates with. Which, you know, I thought was good. I was happy for her that she had no adjustment issues.

But, I didn’t really ever stop to think about the girls who don’t have the confidence that she has. Or the positive self esteem that I could only dream that I possessed a quarter of. Or the leadership abilities. Or the adaptability she’s got. I mean, here these moms want their kids to like going to school for just one day and my child? she never wants to come home.

And I certainly never thought she was a BULLY. I never thought she was MEAN GIRL. How do I keep her from turning into Regina George? How do I grab her and hold her tight and beg her to just be a kid who likes to play with dolls and ice skate and eat cookies and be silly? How do I help her see the big picture? How do I help her see that while she doesn’t have to be FRIENDS with everyone, a smile and wave does so much more good than no smile at all?

smile and wave.

smile and wave

  1. I am having the opposite problem with my 5 year old son. He’s getting bullied by an older kid into saying words he’s not supposed to say at school and other inappropriate actions. Parenting is hard… sigh…

    Comment by Jill on December 2, 2009
  2. I had the opposite problem when I was a kid, I was shy. Shyer than shy. I never really got picked on, I was just ignored. On purpose.

    Which is why I’m terrified for my daughter, who’s not even a year and a half yet. I have no idea how to deal with other kids, because I hid in a corner for the most part.

    Comment by C @ Kid Things on December 2, 2009
  3. As a grade 3 teacher, I see this dynamic all the time. It makes sense, because we all want power. She has figured out how to get it. So, she has to see the power in being kind. Good luck!

    Comment by Heather on December 2, 2009
  4. There are loads of books out there on bullying. And I don’t mean just those that tell you what to do when your kid is being bullied, but what to do if you kid is the bully.

    Possibly check the guidance counselor’s office for reference material too.

    Go here too:

    Kudos to you for wanting to take action. So many parents just turn a blind eye.

    Comment by Heather on December 2, 2009
  5. The mean girls, the bullies, the ones you have to worry about are the ones whose parents think and act like their daughters are, as if beams of sunshine radiate continuously from their fingertips. They don’t ask, they don’t worry, they don’t consider that their darlings could ever say or do something cruel.

    Keep on top of her. Remind her to be kind, reward her for being thoughtful and generous, and kindness will become a habit for her.

    Good luck.

    Comment by feefifoto on December 2, 2009
  6. Heather…it’s not really a problem right now for her…but I can see it turning into one as she gets older, does that make sense?

    I would NEVER turn a blind eye to it. She is a good girl with lots of friends…she just has to use that power and leadership for good, yanno?

    Comment by ali on December 2, 2009
  7. Obviously you just have to tear her down at every visible opportunity.


    Comment by Avitable on December 2, 2009
  8. If it were my daughter (and, trust me, it will be in just a couple years), I would SHOW her how fortunate she is. It’s the holiday season – take her somewhere to volunteer with you and see what “unfortunate” really means. Then let her see how important it is to be nice to people. Because you never know what their life is like when they get off that school bus every day.
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Team Boy In The Lobby =-.

    Comment by Liz on December 2, 2009
  9. This is one of the reasons I don’t want kids. It’s easy to keep them safe when they are at home, but not so much when they start going to school.

    Obviously you noticing it and being worried about it is the first step. Emily is a leader. She’s so confident. I wish I had that much confidence as a 32 year old. Plus, she’s the oldest, so she’s always bossing around Josh and Bella.

    I think you just have to keep telling her and showing her that you can be nice to everyone, even if you aren’t BFFs with them. I know she’ll be fine and won’t be one of those mean girls. She’s a good kid.

    Comment by Kristabella on December 2, 2009
  10. Thanks, K!
    She is a good kid. She’s a great kid…just want to make sure she stays that way!

    Comment by ali on December 2, 2009
  11. That’s so surprising, she seemed so sweet! Perhaps you could explain to her that if you have to be mean to people to be friends with others, then the “friends” will turn around and do the same thing to you when you’re down? Too bad she’s too young to watch Mean Girls, it makes a pretty good point.

    Comment by Tutugirl on December 2, 2009
  12. Being sensitive to the issue is most of the battle as parent, I think. She’s lucky that you are so open with her. As long as you keep the lines of communication open and share your thoughts and opinions with her, she will get a good sense of your values. And of course, leading by example goes a long way. She looks up to you, eye rolls and all, and will get your huge sense of compassion.

    Comment by Tamara on December 2, 2009
  13. Graham is loved by all, but has been bullied before.

    I think it’s hard for Moms who care (Like YOU) to see their kids on either side of the bully scene.

    You have a great heart, Ali. While I’ve yet to meet Emily, from what I know of you, she’ll be a good girl.

    Comment by Angella on December 2, 2009
  14. I’ve got nothing for you, except that it starts earlier than I thought. There’s actually a group of mean girls in my daughter’s JK/SK class; the teacher admitted to it. The problem? The lunch monitor mom is the parent of one of them, so she lets her get away with it.

    Comment by SciFi Dad on December 2, 2009
  15. It’s weird to be on this side of it. Because I have a daughter just like yours. Gah, they could be twins. Whenever I read about Emily, I think of Morgan. Seriously.

    We talk about kindness and including others. we talk about how it’s harder for some people to make friends and they are the ones that might could use a friend the most. We talk about not being mean. About not being that girl.

    In the end though, neither you or I, nor the parents of the girls with no friends, can make our daughters be a certain way. We can only hope that they find their way and that we’ve taught them enough to not end up being that mean girl.

    Just keep talking to her Ali and pay attention. I think the real mean girls…their mom’s didn’t pay attention and call them on their crap. Or at least I hope.

    Comment by Issa on December 2, 2009
  16. She’ll learn. It takes a little time, but she will. Just keep reminding her to be nice to people who no one else is nice to and that secretly they might be the coolest ones!

    Comment by Kaleigha on December 2, 2009
  17. I was Emily in school. I didn’t intend to be mean or inconsiderate, but hey I was the captain of the cheer leading squad I had a reputation to maintain. I knew how lucky I was and my mom always reminded me to be nice. It is hard. I didn’t realize until I went to college and saw the other side of it occasionally that I realized how mean I had been.

    Perhaps try going over some of the things that she says and the way she says them. Sometimes it is all in the inflection. It may make her see that there are other ways of stating your thoughts without the “mean girl” inflection.

    She will always care what other people think and until you get older and realize those people really don’t matter there is not much you can do except work on it. It is great to see a parent though who is involved and cares enough to go out to the world and ask the questions. Good for you! Your kids are so lucky to have you.

    Comment by Kate on December 3, 2009
  18. I think Emily is an awesome girl, but I definitely see why you would be worried. (Not that I see it in her, but just from how you worry about it.)

    I was the girl that was picked on. I was the victim. I was the girl that was too smart. I was the girl that was too tall. I was the girl that changed schools every few years because her parents moved.

    It’s hard to be picked on/intentionally ignored by the popular girls. I was a person who just wanted to be accepted — I think it’s important for you to talk to her about just that: accepting people, even though they’re different from you. Like you said, that doesn’t mean you have to be friends with everyone. But the smile and wave (publicly, not just when your other friends aren’t looking) can make a big difference in someone’s life. Heck, even occasionally going out of your way once in a while to help that person can change someone’ outlook in a big way.

    (I have to say this really touched me – I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to look back on elementary/middle school with happy memories… and I still turned out pretty ok in life.)

    Comment by Darcey on December 3, 2009
  19. The number one thing you can do is to model kindness.

    If she overhears you being snarkily about other people or talking about others as not well dressed, not in the “in crowd,” etc., she will think that’s fine to do.

    If she sees you being kind, she will be kind too.

    Comment by Janet on December 3, 2009
  20. One of my daughter’s friends sounds a little like Emily, and I am trying to teach my own daughter how to make her friend aware that she’s being a bully, and that she’ll lose friends that way. I think the message comes clearer from children on their own level.

    It might be different, because this girl does want my daughter’s friendship, but hopefully the thought might help.

    And another idea might be to highlight a child who is now a friend of Emily’s, but may not always have been. For example if she has any friends who moved schools and was new in the class.

    Just some way of highlighting how things could have ended up differently if she’d hurt someone with her words, and then not ended up friends. Because you never know what a person is really like from how they dress, or how they talk, so you should always try and view every person who comes your way as a friend you just don’t know yet.
    .-= pixielation´s last blog ..I’m a legal alien, like a prawn. =-.

    Comment by pixielation on December 14, 2009

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