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I’ve thought about this word for three days now. Three whole days.
It’s a bitter word. Nasty to the core. It’s been pushed down our throats as adults on how to address a bully issue with our children. I’ve read the articles. And I’ve forgotten the articles. With my oldest being five, I thought I still had a few years before I needed to worry and think about this nasty issue that is so much a part of our society.
And then the day came. It still brings tears to my eyes. Still makes me want to wrap up my precious five year old in a protective blanket of love and sunshine and rainbows that only a parent has and keep her there forever.
It was a crazy week. My daughter was starting kindergarten and my son preschool. First days for everyone. New routines. New teachers. New building.
On top of it all, I scheduled my youngest child’s checkup 20 minutes after their school started. And his doctor’s office was 30 minutes away.
I was rushed. I was crazed. Too much going on and too little time to process it all.
So when my son’s preschool teacher told me I had to lug all three kids down to the opposite end of the hallway and wash his hands before he could enter the classroom, I got a little more crazed.
I held on to William while pulling Trey down the hallway as he pointed out everything he saw..every picture, every door, every kid, the carpet. I muttered my uh huh’s while making sure Quinn was still following and not getting lost in the sea of kids and parents.
I got there. I helped him washed his hands and we were off to fight the crowd and wish Trey a wonderful day.
Quinn, still following close behind, was talking about her new school and new friends and everything a new kindergartener was excited about.
I noticed the pile of books in the middle of the hallway and side stepped them, pulling Trey with me. I looked back to warn Quinn of the pile of books but opened my mouth too late. Quinn tried stepping over them. She almost made it. Almost.
I won’t lie. My first thought was one of annoyance. Talking, talking, talking. Not paying attention to where she was going.
And then it happened. Such a blur but every detail stuck in my head.
The owner of the books shouted. The words in themselves were not harsh. But the attitude laced with pure hatred that made me look back at the little girl in shock.
“Hey GIRL!” she spewed, “why you steppin’ on MY book?! My library book? HEY GIRL!!!!” The last part extremely loud and extremely obnoxious.
And then I glanced at Quinn, half expecting her to apologize to the girl with angry words like I’ve taught her to do when she does something accidentally.
Instead, I froze.
What I was witnessing was something I wish I could erase from my memory.
First, I noticed her shake. Then stiffen. Her face went white and her eyes pleaded with me to help her. It was an awful sight. I had never seen her be shaken with fear. In that moment, my heart literally ached.
As much as I try to be a person who acts before thinking, I am not. I was stunned by Quinn’s response to the Girl with Anger.
I was stunned by the hatred Girl with Anger had at such a young age.
I simply grabbed her hand and squeezed it.
We dropped Trey off to his room, wished him a great first day and proceeded to take Quinn to her classroom.
At the bottom of the stairs, as she blubbered on about the school activities she did the day before and pointing them out to me, I kneeled down and looked her in the face.
“You know, you don’t have to be afraid of someone because they’re louder than you, right? Stepping on the books was just an accident so you just had to say you didn’t mean to do it and it was an accident. OK?”
She nodded her head and looked away. “Hey mom, you know we went down these stairs when we went to look at the school bus yesterday?”
“No, I didn’t…” I answered her as my mind started turning. Did I say enough? Did she understand that these types of people weren’t to be bowed down to? Dis she understand that she had a voice?
I dropped her off. Gave her a bigger hug than I had given her just two days before on her first day as a kindergartener. That day, when I thought my biggest problem was how she was going to do listening in class. And if she would give her teacher the same attitude she gave me at home or if she would refuse to do something because she was “too tired”.
I was wrong. I was so wrong. My biggest problem was teaching her how to deal with the adversities that she will come in contact with while growing up. To show her the balance between sticking up for herself and not becoming a bully herself.
I brought it up again when we got home later that day. “Do you want to talk about it? DO you have any questions?”
She shrugged and kind of shook her head. “No,” she said. “It just scared me when she talked that mean to me.”
“Yeah. Sometimes people can be loud. But we don’t let that scare us.”
I left it at that.
I later called a friend to voice my frustration with the whole situation. I told her all the things I should have done–should have said- but instead, I let a little 7 year old yell and scare me into silence just like she did Quinn.
Oh how that enraged me. “I should have stopped and used my “teacher voice” and tell her that she shouldn’t leave her books IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAY and they wouldn’t get stepped on. I should have grabbed that teacher that walked away by the arm and demanded she talk to the girl about her attitude,” I growled into the phone.
I should have. But I didn’t. I told my husband I wanted to pull them out and homeschool them. That if she had to deal with a bully on the third day of school, the next 12 years was going to be exceedingly harder.
I have been going over the scenario in my mind. Over and over again. Getting angrier each time as I think about it unfolding. What a brat! Who talks to another little girl like that in front of her mother?!
I want to talk to the Girl with Anger’s parents. I want to tell them that being the loud one isn’t the way you get ahead in life. They are the ones I am truly angry with.
But because I can’t, the only thing I can do is try to equip my children with tools to deal with people with so much anger and hatred that they turn on others.
It is something I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with for awhile. But Girl with Anger taught me otherwise.
My daughter went to kindergarten. I can no longer protect her from the world. But I can try my hardest to equip her for it.