Friday, February 4, 2011

What if it happens to her...

One of my most vivid memories of my mother is the day I first saw her momma bear instincts come out... protecting me, her cub.

Ya see, growing up I had this lovely medical situation that long-story-short made it very difficult to make it to the bathroom in time from the age of two until 15.

I learned to adapt in my latter years, but there were many a playground days where I would go inside and need a change of clothing.

I seriously associate my closeness with God in those early years with the fact that I was constantly praying.

"Please Lord, not now"

"Lord, please just help me make it to the bathroom, just this once"

"Heavenly Father, PLEASE"

"Lord, I really want to go to the sleepover, but you have GOT to promise me it isn't going to happen there"

Nothing puts a target on your back any faster than a soggy sleeping bag... just sayin'

Never mind that the condition meant countless stays in the hospital (and lots of needles-- ok the needles bothered me), extremely high fevers, many painful kidney infections and tons of medications that have caused irreversible stains on my teeth...


I was fine as long as Sally Sue didn't notice the wet spot on my pants at recess.

This is where mom comes in.

I honestly don't remember the specifics of the teasing that day, but I remember seeing a fire in my mama's eyes that I will never forget.

All of us kids were playing in the church yard after VBS and Sally Sue had discovered that once again, I was having problems and had her fun with it.

My mother must have witnessed it because the next thing I remember-- clear as day-- is standing by my mom as she took Sally Sue down a notch right in front of everyone in our church foyer.

I was taken aback.

My mom was angry. She knew I couldn't help it. And, she knew she couldn't always protect me from the Sally Sues. But she had Sally Sue at that moment... and Sally Sue was sorry... at least until next time.

As a child and later a teenager that has felt the sting of the less than kind, this is perhaps one of my biggest fears as a parent.

How will I react if and when Sally Sue comes a knockin' on Miss Add's door?

My experiences with the harsher side of life have shaped me into who I am. In some ways, I am grateful for them. In other ways, many have haunted me.

They have given me the courage to be the voice and advocate for things I believe in. But damaged my ability to fully trust.

But regardless of the rationale of "letting kids be kids" and "toughening up", I am not sure that is going to cut it when it is my kid or truth be told--Will I even be rational about it?

How do you handle these situations?


  1. oh wow. Hard one. You're dealing with an issue that teachers have to deal with a lot, and honestly, I have no answers. This is one of the areas where I feel completely helpless professionally. I don't know what to say to the kid, or what to say to the bully, or what will make the problem better.

  2. I can so relate!
    I was on the receiving end of a lot of bullying when I was a kid.
    Only, recently, I came to find out about an incident where I was the MOM of the BULLY!!!
    What to do then??
    I had the words to comfort my kid if she was the victim--but what to say when she's the rat???
    I had to muster up on that one. And lay down the law.
    I never imagined I'd walk that side of the fence. And it was, in some ways, worse than being on the victim side (I guess that had been my comfort--or familiar?--zone my whole life.)

    Addie is still little--so be prepared for anything!

  3. I have had to deal with this, this year actually. I have a daughter who has been diagnosed with an illness that has some socially unacceptable behaviors. She is a sweet heart, and is so good to others, but this has been hard. She is exactly the same girl now that she was last year before all this happened, only now, she is bullied, made fun of and teased often. She feels betrayed and is having a hard time. It is hard enough to be a teen without going through this too. However, this is also making her strong and compassionate. She has loads of compassion for the underdog, for other kids who are "different". And is learning to be a little lion in defending their cause. I would so trade her and keep her from having to go through this, but God knows her better than even I do, and He knew she was up to the challenge. Sometimes all we can do is hold them, love them, and walk with them as they go through it. And above all, trust His hand in their lives.

  4. My response to the bully I had to set straight was "No matter how big and bad and tough you think you are, there is always going to be someone bigger and badder and tougher than you, so think about that the next time you want to bully someone. To the child that has been bullied I can only hold in my arms and let them know how much they are loved and cared for. Reassuring them that the problem lies with the bully and not them. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and their fear gave empowerment to the bully. Teachers can sometimes be bullies too and I know of one teacher that no longer teaches school.As mothers we have to learn what works to reassure our children and use it as necessary. The loving comfort of a mothers arms goes a long way and the whispers of how much they are loved and how proud we are of them sweetens that comfort. I don't know if this will help in your situation or not, remember you are who you are because God chose you to fill a special calling that no one else could fill but you. And remember even in the darkness there is beauty all around.

  5. Katie- I don't envy the teachers that find themselves dealing with these situations. Things are probably different these days, but back then, I'd have given anything for a teacher to step in and put a stop to things.

    Denise- I have thought a lot about that too. Even having been bullied--relentlessly, I can think of two distinct times where I regretfully bullied others as a child and even at the time, I regretted it and still do. Even knowing the pain of it all and being a very compassionate child as a result, on those two occasions, I fell into the trap of wanting to point the attention away from myself onto an easier target. I hope to never discover Add falling into that trap, but if I do... heaven help her.

    Patty Ann, I am so sorry to hear about what your girl is going through with the kids at school. Awesome parents were my saving grace and it sounds like your daughter has a great sanctuary to come home to.

    I know you are right about God being in control. Some of the strongest, well balanced advocates I know came from backgrounds where they learned the hard way that the world is in need of a little more compassion. He can turn something painful into something strong and beautiful.

    Alice- Your comments are filled with such wisdom and truth. Thank you. I totally agree with you about God choosing each of us to fill a special calling and our experiences, good and bad, give us so many ways to share that role with others.