Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ya don't have to be nice, honey

My daughter Emma is a sweetie. Really. A very sensitive little girl who is trying to find her way in the harsh world of public school. Last year, on the playground a boy tried to take her ball from her, she grabbed it back off of him—and he pushed her down hard. The school kind pissed me off because they talked to her about how SHE could have handled the situation better. She was sticking up for herself—the boy took her ball. I told the assistant principal that we are teaching her to stand up for herself—whether they like it or not. Mostly, her feelings were because she thought the boy was her friend. I am still getting my feelings hurt over people who call themselves my friend and then prove that they are not. So I find I am at a loss to explain the complexities of friendship to my child.
Then last week, in the midst of my younger daughter being sick with the stomach flu, Emma came home sick from school she never even made it to her class. They called at 8:10. At first, I didn't think much of it because Tess was sick. But as the day wore on, I could tell Emma had gotten "better" very quickly. Turns out, there was an incident on the bus that upset her.
This is the kind of girl Emma is: she decided to make little drawings/posters for everybody on the bus. And one night she poured her heart out into these posters, working very hard on them. She just decided she wanted to do something nice for the kids she rides the bus with. Unfortunately, a group of them laughed at her and tore up the pictures.
It would have made me sick, too. Now, Emma is riding in the front of the bus and has been told that she doesn't have to be nice to those boys. She seemed confused, "But I have to be nice to everybody." But you don't have to be, do you? Especially if somebody treats you with disrespect, they don't deserve your attention, let alone your friendship or heart. It's a lesson I am still learning—it has been a difficult and painful one throughout my life—but to see my daughter dealing with this at the age of eight, it feels like a kick in the gut.