A Better Response

1

My arms may be hairy, but the good news is that I’ll never need a coat during winter.

Do you ever dream of being young again to return to that wonderful age when you were on the cusp of puberty and surrounded by children who rejoiced in each other’s differences? Yeah. Me neither. But as is the way of being a small human, my three children are current residents of Kidville and will remain so for the next several years.

Our youngest child stays busy during the weekdays at the daycare (and our firm belief is that she rules that place each day in her standard tyrannical style with pig tails a-bobbin’ as she bosses around her classmates).  Our oldest is in middle school and is happy (today) (middle school can only be evaluated in daily increments at most). And then there’s our middle child. She is currently working on her last year of elementary school and has started to become self-conscious about her body. One might expect that she would also have achieved some cognizance regarding the need to wear her shirt the right way or possibly brushing more than a one inch section of her hair, but those details have yet to make the awareness cut.  

Nevertheless she has become fixated on the hair on her arms. She doesn’t look a human wolf and the circus has yet to call. She just has a little arm hair. As fate would have it, some random boy in her school approached her at the end of today’s school day and teased her about it. Being a tweenager goofball, he could have said anything at all, but of course that was the one he had to pick. He walked off before she could come up with a response, and she came home heart-broken.

The thing is this – I’m a mama bear when it comes to my kids (and potentially my arms as well), so my instant response was to tell her to be put on a tough face and stand up to the other child. I don’t mean that I told her to get busy whacking him in his crown with those Rapunzel-esque limbs. I told her that what he said was ridiculous, and she should just come back with a sassy response in return or maybe just feign a reaction of utter boredom should he attempt such lame insults again. I even tried to get her to practice with me, but she wasn’t having any of that. As feisty as she can be, she doesn’t have that warrior spitfire coursing through her veins (see “her mom” or “her tyrannical 3-year-old sister” for reference). She is basically a human fairy, and someone stomped on her fuzzy little wings. Seeing her little heart aching hurt me more than she could ever imagine.

You think that you are grown up and that you are so happy to be free of all the emotional complexities (a.k.a. garbage / crapola) that goes with being a child in school. As an adult, you do get attacked at times, but ultimately, you can choose to put space between you and any of those bullies of the world. You may not like the consequences, but you can walk. That’s one of the best parts about being an adult. But then you have a kid. And that kid goes to school. And someone you can’t control says something cruel and hurtful to your kid.

And because your child is effectively your heart walking around outside of your body, you hurt as much as if it was said directly to you.

So my response to her came from a defensive place. It wasn’t all “I am rubber. You are glue…” We did have an extensive conversation about his insecurity. I explained the real possibility that the boy might have actually thought that she was pretty and just didn’t know what to say. We also talked about how completely inaccurate his comments were and that she couldn’t let another person’s hollow and mean words tear down her self-image. (We did not discuss the reality that those kinds of comments will always hurt and that we spend our lives fighting with self image deficiencies. That felt a little heavy for the fuzzy arms talk.) Clearly my words impacted her deeply because her eyes glazed over and she said blandly, “Where are the Frosted Flakes?”

Sigh.

The truth is that she is a beautiful girl with gorgeous dark eyes and olive skin (the stinker!). She is not a furball, but she does have fuzzy arms. Her fuzz happens to be from dark hair while mine are fuzzy with light hair. It bugs her, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary at all. The other truth is that the picture above is of my arm, but that’s not my arm hair.  That’s my dog’s tail. We are both blondish, so it worked for me. Unfortunately it seriously weirded out the poor dog.

The real problem is that my daughter is going to be a serious headache for her father and me when her teenage bod kicks in. I have visions of her leaving for school one junior high morning and then exiting the building later that same day in slow motion with the wind blowing and an Aerosmith song playing in the background. It worries the crap out of me how pretty she might be. Thankfully for now, there is only standard motion, and Minecraft is her theme song. I’ll take that as long as I can.

So I called another mama / confidant whom I completely trust. She’s a precious friend and an adultier adult. (Another dear friend once told me that sometimes we need to seek adultier adults to help with various situations, and she was right on target.) Her suggestion was for me to sit with my daughter and focus on sending prayers for the other’s child’s insecurities to heal. I know. It’s almost exactly the same as what I said, right? Her suggestion to “Send light and love to the child who is clearly hurting” was  almost word for word the same as “Come up with a better come back, and maybe roll your eyes and yawn.” So close, yes???

Well at least God sent me an actual grown up to help me navigate the parenting waters I like to refer to as “Me and My Issues.” I’m not even really angry with the other child. His words were a reflection of his insecurity and lack of kid filters. My daughter will turn into a mega-babe (much to my dismay), and his words will be small potatoes relative to other hurts she will face.

I want to find better ways to help my children to avoid empowering the unimportant stuff. I hope to teach them how to acknowledge the untruths for what they are and to learn to dismiss the malicious words of others. I want for us all to respond from a place of love rather than a place of hurt. I pray that my mama bear within is reading this post, but I also know that she’s a beast and that I will fail dismally more times than I can imagine. But for now, I’m going to try. So I’m going to locate my inner grown up, and we will send love and light to that other child.

However if that kid messes with her again tomorrow…

(I’m just kidding!)

(I hope.)

😉  Joanna

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 03:50:42

    You could tell her that boys never really get better at starting conversations….and she should get ready for the ridiculously stupid pick up lines that will happen in the not so distant future…..the tween years just suck…..

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 25, 2017 @ 22:58:36

      I wanted to tell her all of that (and possibly did without paying attention to myself). I felt so sad for her though. Even the best kids really stink sometimes.

      Reply

  2. Blog Andrew
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 04:05:47

    You creased 😀 me up with the ‘dog’s tail’, I was staring at the picture for ages and thought it may have been your Halloween costume! Bigfoot?

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 26, 2017 @ 05:33:18

      You should have seen the look the dog gave me while I was trying to take that goofy picture. She was so not okay with my doing that, but I thought that it looked like Bigfoot, too!

      Reply

  3. foodzesty
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 04:44:10

    Hi Jo, I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. 🙂 Congrats

    Reply

  4. Anonymous
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 07:01:28

    I was thinking we could throw water on him Thursday. Since we are in charge of water delivery?? Ok, maybe that’s not a good idea. I’ll try to think of something more motherly & wise. Why do kids have to be so mean?

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 26, 2017 @ 07:58:11

      Lol! Girl you crack me up! I’m not sure if that would work because you know how those boys love dumping those water cups on their heads anyway! But I appreciate the love anyway. 🤗

      Reply

  5. carolrolke
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 11:01:13

    Good thing you didn’t call for my advice. It would have been much, much different. I’ll work on being an adultier adult, but right now, I’d like to beat his ass for you. How old is he? Then, I’ll pray for us all. Seriously, one get out of jail free card because he’s an idiot. Next boundary crossing, hard truths, high-heal in the booty, possibly a black eye….

    Reply

  6. elbycloud
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 12:40:10

    I read this wondering what I’d do to the kid who might hurt my tender son’s feelings- then had some flashbacks on recent comments he’s made (“I like the bad guys in My Little Pony,” “I stepped on Ryland’s head- but it was an accident!”), and had the troubling thought dawn on me that he could easily be that other kid. Time to have my own chat about hurtful comments with him. Thanks for the advice.

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 26, 2017 @ 20:38:42

      The other kid’s comment was actually much uglier than the way I phrased it, so it was definitely intended to be mean. It’s just strange to me. I don’t like it at all, but at least I can rationalize saying something mean to someone you dislike. (Again still very much not ok) But why go up to another kid and be ugly just for the sake of being ugly? Clearly he has his own funk going on, so I’m praying that I cut him some kid slack if he does that again. Kids can be stinkers, but most people aren’t inherently mean. Maybe he was that kid who ended up in the gorilla pen a few years ago, and arm hair is a trigger for him. 😂

      Reply

  7. Writer Lori
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 14:50:29

    This post made me giggle and sigh almost simultaneously, Jo. Hate how blunt kids can be sometimes, and how a throw-off comment can plunge into a little heart like a dagger. I suspect, however, that you are equipping your children with a stunning ability to roll with the punches and take the hit and coming back fighting (metaphorically speaking or otherwise). You’re such a great mama, it could hardly be otherwise… Give that sweet, hirsute child a big hug for me! xxo

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 26, 2017 @ 20:41:48

      You would think that sassy responses would be a natural comeback at this point based on the lip they get from me. Maybe the difference is that I tease them but I try to do it in a way that makes it obvious that I’m teasing. I hated it for her but I also can’t help but joke about it (not to her though – I tried and that was a no go).

      Reply

  8. Tracy
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 01:22:45

    Boys are idiots. That said, I gave birth to three of them. I remember being at that age where I was so self-conscious. I hated my big nose and Mick Jagger lips so of course, I was reminded of how massive they were on an hourly basis at school. But you know what? My nose fits my face now and I still have a decent set of lips (top set) to put my lippy on even though I’m 6 years post-menopausal. Who’s laughing now eh?! 😉 X

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 27, 2017 @ 22:58:08

      I’m laughing just reading that. I, too, rwmber being the age of being self conscious. It was when I was (hmm let’s see I am 41 now so…) 41 years old and all the years before that. 😂

      Reply

  9. mindmatters
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 20:41:11

    It’s always amazing to me how mean kids can be. I cannot stand to see kids hurting!!!

    Reply

  10. Jack Shalom
    Oct 03, 2017 @ 22:32:40

    I’m going to guess you’re already an Anne Lamott and Anne Tyler fan, but if not, you need to read their novels. I think you will greatly enjoy them.

    Reply

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