Monday, April 11, 2011

Bullying

The past 3-4 weeks I've been a bit anxious, stressed, pissed off, and worrying over my darling 6YO, Avant Garde Gal.

She'd been coming home talking about how a group of 5 girls would constantly be mean.

I was picked on all growing up. You don't get to be the only one of three Asian kids in an all-white elementary school without any bullying. It is just impossible. I was lucky to have a few good friends, a big-kid protector, and a brother in school with me who I would protect. I spent a lot of time in the elementary bathroom stall, praying for relief, for safety.

I was a very sensitive, kind, gentle little girl. I don't know if it was that, or my many oddities of being a first generation Asian in Utah. I had no guidance on fitting in, and kids are cruel when you don't fit in. Granted, adults are cruel too, but those of us that have been through those fires of youth, don't give a damn, and eschew blending in with the monochrome society, for a more colorful, exceptional life.

In kindergarten a girl in my daughter's class gave me a note. The note said that my daughter was being mean to her. I took it very seriously. I went home and sat my daughter down and talked to her. We had an amazing heart-to-heart. If my child, were ever to be an instigator, you had better believe I'd be all over it.

I volunteered in the classroom, so I knew a lot about this girl's behavior, character. So when my daughter explained what was going one, I believed her. Turns out the girl was constantly demanding that my daughter not play with certain girls, since my daughter refused to be mean to the other girls, the mean girl got upset enough to write me a note accusing my daughter of being mean. Kindergarten! I couldn't believe it.

I know my daughter. I know how sensitive she is. She is the daughter that starts weeping when I tell her about Christ and His crucifixion, or when Nephi's brothers bound him on the ship to the promised land. Last night we watched Tarzan and the both of us were crying over Tarzan discovering his real parents and his gorilla mom letting him choose. She's the big sister, who when her little sister gets in trouble for hurting her, begs us to be lenient. She's the daughter that asks for forgiveness from her little sister, when she's hurt her feelings, and asks how she can make it better.

Last night I overheard this:

AGG: *in tears* DD I'm so sorry for grabbing the toothpaste away meanly. Will you forgive me?
DD: Um. Okay.
AGG: *sniffling* What can I do to make it better?
DD: Weeeeell, I know. You can make me a tea party in the toy room, and surprise me!
AGG: Okay! I will do it and keep the door closed so you can't see.

So what kind of bullying is my daughter experiencing?

One time she told one of the girls that she liked her giraffe drawing. She said, "I really like your giraffe, you're a great artist." The girl immediately got angry with my daughter and said, "No you don't. You said you don't like it." And then she spread it to the rest of the table mates and they all got angry with my daughter. Naturally, this made my sensitive child cry as she tried to explain that she liked the picture, and was trying to compliment the mean girl.

Often the girls use the quiet sign - to silence my daughter from ever opening her mouth. Their quiet sign is a peace sign - and the mean girls would often shove their signs into my daughter's face.

There's this one girl who is part of this group, who sits at another table. She is an angry child. Every time I'm in the classroom she has her brows knit like she's about to blow her top and she is always bossing kids around and tattling over any infraction she can. She's the one that likes to yell at my daughter all the time.

Another time my daughter was talking and said, "geez". One girl immediately started spreading that my daughter said, "Jesus". My daughter was in tears explaining that she didn't use the Lord's name in vain, she said "geez" which is not a bad word. Given how much my daughter loves God - I can't even imagine how hurt her little heart felt to feel accused like that.

Hearing these stories over the course of weeks - made my heart ache, and feel murderous with rage. I have an open relationship with the teachers. We talk regularly, so as soon as I saw the pattern, I started emailing the teachers to ask what was going on, and alert them to the activities. Then I met with one of the teachers and she then spoke to the kids with my daughter, about being kind, etc. The teacher was of the opinion that the girls didn't realize what they were doing.

Meanwhile my husband and I were trying to help our daughter cope. We suggested ignoring them. Which is kind of hard to do when they have numbers. I suggested clever, witty, put-downs or comebacks. Husband said that unfortunately, when you have numbers against you, there's very little chance of success. In frustration, I told my daughter to give back as good as she got. She stopped me by saying, "but I don't want them to feel bad."

Just hearing how charitable my daughter is to these girls - made me want to go kick some a-- no matter how young they are.

You know what? We've had each of these girls over for a play date at our house. In the case of angry girl - she is our back-door neighbor. When school first started my daughter was so excited and sent her these sweet notes through the fence.

So far, my daughter said some of the girls are being nicer. The angry girl is still - angry. The table groups are switched out as well.

I know that often kids like these mean girls have issues at home. Some are the youngest in their families. One has an incredibly negative mother. I don't know if they are not getting enough attention at home. I know half have parents that both work outside the home - I don't know what it is. Do mean girls just know who the sensitive, kind kids are and hone in on them?

We are still vigilant as we continue to monitor the situation day-by-day. I am grateful that my daughter comes to us and tells us what is going on. I am grateful that while I rage inside, I've been able to (kind of) calmly handle this from the outside.

I know my daughter is not your typical kid. She draws and writes stories from the moment she wakes up in the morning until evening. She loves to dance, act, sing. She is constantly, curious about words, definitions, behavior, and the reasoning behind human character, choices. She's a left-handed creative gal, who has also taught herself to write with her right-hand, because she wanted to. She has an incredible capacity to love. She is hard on herself when she doesn't think it's perfect. She amazes me every day - and I will fight for her to my dying breath.

9 comments:

cabesh said...

So, so hard. I hope that AGG can find one really good friend--often that can make all the difference. She needs to find a Chloe--someone kind, with a little bit of spunk that will stand with her against the others.

AGG is an amazing girl. Fortunately, you tell her that and support her at home. That makes a world of difference--imagine being bullied and having no refuge at home. Ughhh!

Love you and AGG. I'll be praying for you both.

Christina Lyon Maughan said...

So sorry about the bullying! Children can be so much more cruel than adults, or at least adults can cope with it a little more maturely. It sounds like these girls are a little jealous of your very good daughter and her talents.

Deena said...

This kills my mother heart. It is stuff like this that makes me want to homeschool my child and keep her safe with me forever.

Queen Scarlett said...

Thank you friends. Wish we lived closer...

Emily said...

This is so, so hard. My 11YO had dealt with this for the past few years at school. The teachers have said her grade has a serious group of dramatic girls and I think they're at wit's end trying to figure out what to do. Unfortunately my daughter is a lot like yours and friends everyone, but she especially friends the friendless. And these "friendless" often have social issues, but my daughter continues to carry on, even through the tears and frustration. I of course want to meet them behind the playground to knock some sense into them, but I refrain. It still breaks my heart! Perhaps your 6YO and my 11YO could be buddies!

Queen Scarlett said...

Emily - it's too bad we're not neighbors. Our girls would totally get along. If you have any tips you learned along the way, feel free to share them. ;-)

Mrs. Organic said...

I am so sorry, that's terrible and in kindergarten! She sounds so sweet, I wish I could have half the heart she does.

Amy said...

Goodness gracious your sweet girl sounds exactly like my oldest! Wish I had some tips for you. Move by me and lets homeschool and be neighbors together?

Love cabesh's comment about AGG being fortunate in that she comes home to a loving supportive home.

The Atomic Mom said...

Sadly being mean is a learned behavior. I've noticed that many times kids are mean to others because siblings (like you said, being the yougest) are mean to them, so they think it's natural.

I don't know how brave you would be to talk to the parents of these kids, or to just ask that the teacher keep your daughter away from them as much as she can.