A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about how Maya had been teased by other kids and for the first time, I am aware of, she was called stupid.
So, a little while ago, while enjoying a lazy day together (Maya is on vacation from school this week), she mentioned the possibility of one of her cousin's sleeping over during the week. Unfortunately, her cousin lives in the Hague and their school vacation doesn't happen until next week so we can't make that work. I mentioned though that we would be going over there for dinner during the Easter break from school and she was excited to hear that.
A look came over her. My girl, who is joyful most of the time, looked down at the ground and very quietly asked, "mommy, will there be any other kids there, besides P, J and L (her cousins)?"
I said no, and asked her why. She continued to look down at the floor shuffling her foot against the carpet.
"It's okay, you can tell me."
She said, the other kids at their house the last time said nasty things to her and hit her in the head.
Now, of course I knew that, we had talked about it before and I had tried to help her to understand what had happened in a way that she could process it and then let it go.
Of course, it hurts a little to see it come back. To see that although we had talked about it, she understood and moved on, that it stays with her, that she connects that incident with her cousins that she loves so much. After all it was her cousin P that came downstairs and told Leo and the other adults what was happening so that her dad and P's dad could take care of Maya, comfort her and redirect her to play with the smaller kids.
As her mom, I just want to turn myself into a big eraser and make any trace of that crappy memory disappear from her mind, from her thoughts, from her existence.
That's not reality though and this is not the last time something like this is going to happen to Maya. Kids tease and sometimes are cruel and Maya's challenges are for life. There will always be people that judge her, people that don't know her and love her, but people that make snap judgments based on one thing that they see because they are not willing or able to see the whole picture. People that may feel so crappy about themselves and can only make themselves feel better by belittling others.
I cannot shield Maya completely from that and even though I don't want my girl to have a nanosecond of hurt based on others cruelty or misunderstanding, I think the best thing I can do as a mom is not to tell her to forget it. I think the best thing I can do as a mom is try, to the best of my ability, to teach her how to handle cruelty with dignity.
The moments that she brings up an unpleasant memory are opportunities for me as a mom to teach her that lesson and reinforce it each time.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
So, I asked her if what those boys said to her made her feel sad. She said that it did, all she wanted to do was play along.
That thud you hear? That's me, gulping back tears.
I asked her if she thinks she is stupid? "No, mommy, I am not stupid, I am smart." That's my girl! Take that, mean-party-boys!
So, I came and sat closer to her and took her hand. I told her that sometimes kids say nasty things. I told her that they are only nasty things and if people say these things to her, she has to remember that she is smart, that she is a good, sweet, kind girl. That no nasty thing that anyone says will change that.
I told her that if anyone ever says anything that makes her feel sad, bad or angry, she has to come and tell me or her daddy right away and that we will always help her.
I told her when I was a little girl people sometimes said mean things to me. And they were just mean things. Nothing more.
"Mommy, when you were 9 and kids said mean things to you, did you remember that you were a smart, sweet girl?"
"I did, honey." I didn't, but that's a whole other blog post.
"So, Maya, if someone ever calls you stupid again, what do you say?"
"I say that they've just said something nasty. And I come and tell you. Can we stop talking about it now?"