*****I was informed by a mother involved, my daughter has previously been the bully. She has been the aggressive child along with some others, and that is not okay in the slightest. I will be going to her school today in a few moments to discuss this further with her, and I will do my damnedest to make sure she never has the nerve to try it again. I'm stating this publicly because I do not want her to continue another moment with playing a victim to someone she has apparently terrorized in the past. The point of my writing this wasn't to point fingers or say my child is an angel. It isn't to cast shame on someone else. I want people to be aware that this can happen right in front of our faces without us even knowing, and we need to be diligent with our children to make sure they understand, actions like this are never okay.*****
Bullying. There. I said it. Bullying. It is a nasty word with nasty connotations. good kids don't bully. My kid doesn't bully. Your kid doesn't bully. And yet this word still exists. I guess we can all see definition of this word differently. I see it as a person who preys on someone weaker or in a vulnerable situation.
A great opportunity? When several children gang up and decide to not only just leave another out (because honestly, who hasn't done that intentionally or otherwise?) but to actually ridicule and mock that single individual. To make them feel lesser than you. To take that moment to feel bigger and the expense of someone else.. amazingly? Even in front of that individuals mother and father.
When the tears first started flowing, when the drama was first kicked in to gear, I assumed right away as I was made aware of the situation that my child was being dramatic. She wanted access to something someone else had. Okay, suck it up. Take turns. Do something else.
... and then the children started laughing at her in front of me, taunting her. Making a big scene of her discomfort and exclusion. Oh... okay. Encourage her further to do something else.
Like moths to the flame though, my persistent child refused to leave the scene. I left her alone for a few moments thinking I was maybe reading things wrong. I know two of the four or five children involved and I know this isn't their normal behavior. I've watched these kids grow up. I've dug in my purse for Kleenexes for their snotty noses. I've snuck them extra cupcakes at parties in our home because I adore these children. Emma's walls are littered with multiple images of arms linked and eyes shining from over the years.
But lo and behold, the next time I went into the back yard they had her cornered. One of the girls I knew had left the scene and was immediately apologetic. I was in disbelief. I kept thinking I was misunderstanding something taking place right in front of me. And my kid? My tough, bold, silly, strong-willed kid? She crumbled before my eyes. She was defeated. She shrunk inside herself. Even worse, when I told the other girls that they were out of line, they had the gall to turn on me. Can you imagine being a five or six or seven year old girl and getting sassy with someone's mom?! I can't even picture, in my own youth of being bullied for my weight and for my mom's income and for whatever else kids wanted to mock, any words being said to me in front of my mom - let alone TO my mom.
It was the cliche image of the pack of attacking dogs. They were horrendous. The one remaining girl we know backed off slightly but then joined right back in. In front of me. In front of my husband. With her kicking and screaming, my defiant child was carried from the function since she wouldn't walk away herself. Despite the way she was treated, she still wanted to stay with her friend. She was angry that I removed her, and then she sobbed because she didn't know why her friends and these strangers treated her this way.
And then I was broken. No one should witness this behavior - no one should experience this behavior first-hand.
My sadness was refueled later when I saw image after image after image on social media of these beautiful little girls, with huge beaming smiles after we had left the event. I studied these images - they are just kids. They are someones babies. I'm sure the mother of the children I didn't know would have been horrified by their actions, but as it stands they will get to carry on another day. And, although I desperately try to not shelter my daughter from things that will make her stronger in time, I will never allow her to be at any event those children are at.
Talk to your children. Talk again. And again. Make sure they are safe. Ensure they aren't involved in a pack that could potentially leave another child vulnerable to attack. Make it clear that it is never okay to be the attacker. The aggressive one. Make sure they aren't the victim of a pack. Because when it does happen to your kid, the word will be tattooed into your mind.