I have never been one to sugar coat things for anyone, but most especially you. I also am the first person to admit I am basically flying through parenting blind. I felt so prepared and educated when my kids were babies and toddlers, but once they hit school age- bam! You are on your own. Nobody has concrete advice that works, nobody holds classes on what you can do to solve the problems and resolve the issues that get thrown at you. Nothing. Suddenly all of the "experts" are clueless and it makes me feel duped into believing I really do have a support safety net of smart people to fall back on.
Because surely I could use one right about now.
So for my new followers, my darling daughter Olivia is six. She is awesome, cheerful, funny, smart, creative, and wonderful in so many ways. She's also in Kindergarten. She really loves Kindergarten, absolutely adores her teachers (she has two because the class is so large) and for the most part this school year has really enjoyed going every day. She even loves her homework packet every week and believe me when I gave a fist pump to baby jeebus on that because a lot of kids in her class hate the homework packet.
My daughter is also fairly shy in new situations and she is not that kid to just run up to you and say hello. She is respectful, kind, and sensitive. She has a tender heart and honest to god my fear in life is that her spirit would break because she seems like the kind of person who would suffer a crushed spirit easily.
For the past few weeks I have noticed that Olivia is having more pee accidents (at school and at night) and that is my first flag something is up. She seems more anxious, easily upset, and easily defeated. Any time I give her direction or tell her she can't do something, she literally looks like I have crushed all of the joy in her life. And though I know I'm parenting and trying to encourage positive behavior, etc... I feel like shit.
Then last week my mom brought her to school because I had to work and a classmate flat out told Olivia she had "vampire teeth". In front of my mom. My first reaction is, what kind of parent raised their kids to speak like that in front of another adult? Not even just the fact that they blatantly tease another kid, but to do it in front of an adult. Is respect a growing fad? My mom defended Olivia and I really thought that after talking to her about sticking up for herself we'd be OK. We had a talk that night before bed as we always do, but I realized my kid does NOT talk about anything. She just started crying when I asked her if any other kids say or do mean things to her.
I will tell you nothing in your life will make you feel as shitty of a person as that moment right there.
She tells me that there are boys that scream in her face on the playground, there are kids who push her and her friend off of playground equipment, there is one boy who teases her when she doesn't get her "center work" done as fast as him, and sometimes kids don't want to play with her. I basically felt like crying myself, but instead we talked through some things and she seemed to perk up.
The next day as we're getting ready for school, Olivia asks me for a bigger shirt. When I saw the shirt she had on, it fit perfectly, so I asked why she needed a bigger shirt. She then tells me it's because she's fat and you can see her tummy. Folks? My daughter is rail thin. She's tall and lanky. She's so skinny I have a hard time buying clothes for her because everything literally droops off her body. If anything, she needs to fatten up. She's six and only 40 pounds. On a good day. The girl is not fat. So I have to have the "you are not fat, you are beautiful just the way you are" talk with her. It felt inadequate because I know when someone tells me I'm not fat, I usually just say, "thanks" but in my head I'm really saying "moo". (Now, before you ask- I don't talk about my weight, I don't obsess over what I eat, I don't weigh myself, etc in front of my kids. In fact, it's a non-topic in the house.)
So then I take her to school and as we get to the door she grabs my hand and kind of walks behind me. Which... weird because this is new. It turns out, it's the boy who screams in her face on the playground. Then another kid in her class is like, "HEY! You can't go in there!" (meaning the area they have coat hooks- the rule is kids have to stay out until the bell rings). I get permission because I have Jackson and if I don't get in/out of there not only he, but I also will be trampled. So I tell the girl that she can mind her own business and that she needs to respect adults.
Olivia then breaks down into tears begging me to take her home. Obviously, I'm not going to do that because she needs to be in school but really- what do you say? She was hysterical and I couldn't even get her to tell me what was going on. After almost five minutes of reassuring her she was going to have a good day (and hoping this wasn't a blatant lie), she calmed down enough to go to class. I emailed her teacher and I think we have a plan on how to handle this in the classroom.
Since then, though? She is withdrawn. Today her and Jackson were being loud and running around the living room and after not listening to me to stop running, I sent them upstairs to play. Nevermind the fact they think being told to play in their rooms is the end of the world, she looked so sad. If I had beat her senseless- she would have had the same expression, no exaggeration.
At bedtime, she mysteriously changed her pajamas and when Matt asked her why, she just said she wanted new. Well, when I tucked her in I realized she had peed her bed last night. I asked her, and she lied. It's not that she peed the bed- it happens, but it's that she lied to both of us. So I told her she just lost bed time stories for the week. I have nothing else to punish her with really, she just really loves story time. (Especially because we read chapter books and every night is a chapter.)
But god dammit. I don't know what to do. I have a lot of issues here:
1. My kid is being bullied at school. In kindergarten. Wrap your head around that, folks.
2. I feel like I have to do something big for her right now because I feel like we're on that cusp of losing her? Not losing her as in life/death, but I feel like her spirit that I love so much is going away? Does that make sense?
3. I have read books, articles, studies, etc on all of this and none of it makes a damn when it's your own kid.
4. In the back of my mind, I wonder if I am unintentionally harder on Olivia than I am with Jackson because I have such high hopes for her? I feel like my parents had higher expectations for me growing up and sometimes that was hard. I knew I was loved, but sometimes I felt like I wasn't quite meeting the bar? So now I'm worried that I am inadvertently doing the same thing to Olivia. I don't know how to even change that because I don't realize I'm doing it. And that is a tough pill to swallow.
5. I feel a lot of pressure to do the right thing because I am worried I'm going to screw up my kids and they'll end up like those brats on 16 and Pregnant or something.
So there you go. I'm sitting here tonight with all kinds of funny things I could post right now, but this weighs heavy on my heart and my mind. I know I'm a good mom. I know that I try my absolute best. I do everything I can for my kids and yet it doesn't feel enough. Is this really how it is? Forever? Because I know for damn sure that chapter was never in the What To Expect books.