It started off innocently enough: A mother-daughter chat before bedtime. A heart-to-heart at the end of a long day, when thoughts tumble forth with seemingly no direction, and no filters. Some nights I rush things, saying, “Enough. Lights out.” Not last night. It was my daughter’s birthday eve. I let the conversation flow aimlessly.
Till I felt like I was hit by a truck. Or school bus.
We were talking about a classmate who is bothering her. Annoying her, chasing her, grabbing her. She won’t listen when my daughter asks her to stop, so I said it’s time to seek the guidance of a teacher.
That’s when my daughter calmly, nonchalantly told me about a period of time last spring—LAST spring—when she was being teased about her overbite by a fourth grader on the bus. She, a first grader, was repeatedly being called “Buck Tooth” by a fourth grade boy. And I, her mom, never knew.
What did she do? She finally told her teacher. My daughter says the next morning she saw the boy escorted from the bus to the principal’s office. From that day forward, he never said another unkind word to her. Problem solved. Without me.
As my daughter was recounting all of this, my heart was swelling. With pride, and heartache. I asked her, “Why didn’t you come to ME? Why didn’t you tell ME about this?”
She said, “I wanted to keep it between me and the school, Mom. It was a school thing.” For a first grader.
That confounded me. (Maybe she felt safe telling me now because she now has braces?)
She said she was sorry for not bringing me in the loop, and I told her not to apologize; she had done nothing wrong. I told her that I was incredibly proud of her, and that she did EXACTLY what I would have told her to do, school-wise, in dealing with the bully.
But I added that I am her MOM, and that I am there for her if she is ever upset about anything, anything at all. Like someone teasing her. That’s MY job.
And now suddenly I’m worried about her teen years. I love that she can fight her own battles. But she won’t even tell her mom when she’s being bullied? When she’s being teased? What about when she’s just upset about something? Anything?
Today she turns eight.
She seems like a really happy kid. I know she’s strong. And now I know she sticks up for herself.
Me? I’m going to stop rushing “lights out” and let those mother-daughter end-of-day conversations flow unfiltered a bit longer, even occasionally past her bedtime. Whatever it takes. ‘Cause we get just one shot at this Parenting Gig.