We talk about bullying so often these days, and rightly so. I’m trying to raise my kids to know better and do better, as so many of us are. I’m sure you are, too. It’s just that we never know for sure how they’ll act when they’re out of our sight.
My daughter was not only new to public school this year, but also new to the world of school friendship, and all the inevitable drama that comes alongside said friendships. I was certain the day would come when my girl was on the receiving end of it, and that day came last week. I spotted her in the pick-up line, a little slump to her usually board-straight shoulders, no enthusiastic wave today, no bounce that said she had eight hours’ worth of news for me. She stood up, turned and said something to your daughter (a face new to me) and headed towards me, quiet, mouth turned down. She wasn’t crying any longer, but I could see the little salt trails on her cheeks as she climbed in. I asked if she was okay, and the whole story came out.
My girl was truly baffled by the way her day had gone (oh sweet girl, we’ve all been there). The details don’t really matter; these things come and go, but as the song says, that first cut is the deepest. She was confused and hurt and embarrassed. I wanted to stop the car and squeeze her. These middle years can be so hard.
What she said next, dear fellow parent, is why I’m writing to you.
“But Mom. This girl I don’t know saw me crying and she came to sit beside me. She asked me if I was okay and started telling me jokes to make me laugh. That was so sweet of her. She didn’t have to do that.”
“Was that who you were talking to as I pulled up?”
“Yes. It really made me feel better.”
Your daughter went out of her way to make a sad (and strange) schoolmate feel better. She wasn’t beside my girl when it happened; she noticed her, and then went out of her way to go to her, check on her, and cheer her up. At an age where trying is uncool and everything in general is just mortifying, your child put herself out there because she saw someone in pain.
I’ve looked for you and your daughter during events and programs at school since, but I have yet to find you. I’m sure one day we will cross paths, and I will be so thrilled to talk about what kind of child you are raising. I know sometimes we worry about the job we are doing, but I hope you know that you’re doing great — the evidence was in my second row that day.