November 11, 2011

Why I Oughta…

My daughter has a best friend. Let’s call her “Kate.” Kate is a sweet girl. She has wonderful manners, she’s always asking me questions and wanting to hang out in the kitchen and talk to me while I make dinner. I’ve always liked Kate. But the other day I heard something that really upset me. I was working in the kitchen, trying to pack lunches and generally get my act together for the next day. Kate and my daughter were sitting in the den, whispering like middle-schoolers do. I could hear laughter and giggling and I was pretty much ignoring it. But then the tone of the conversation changed, and it made my ears perk up. I could hear my daughter’s voice get higher and higher pitched, while Kate’s voice got lower and slower. I put down what I was working on, and I went to listen (I know, I know, I shouldn’t snoop. But I’m glad I did!) to what the girls were saying to each other. Now I can’t remember how many times I’ve had the bullying conversation with my children. We’ve read books, watched movies and television shows, and read all of the information that came home from school. So when I say I was shocked to hear Kate and my daughter making fun of one of their friends, it is a complete understatement.

My first instinct was to run in there all “Mama Bear,” kick Kate to the curb (certainly, it had to be her fault, right?), and send my daughter to her room for the next six years. But I was pretty confident that wasn’t the right approach. So later on, after sitting through an excruciating meal with my daughter, my son, and Kate (grrr!), I finally had the opportunity to sit down with my daughter before bed. I wish I could say it was one of those afterschool special moments, but in reality, it’s just the first of what will be many conversations about being a person with integrity.  Step 1, figuring out what kind of person my daughter wants to be, and recognizing how outside influences affect the kind of person she will become. And maybe, teaching Kate a thing or two.

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