Monday, September 15, 2008

Perhaps not the best advice I've given my daughter.

Megan came home from school the other day and was kind of quiet. She turned to me and said, "Mom, do I ever have to have a play date with Jane Doe?" (obviously not her real name...)

"Not if you don't want to. Why? Do you want to?"

"Not really."

"Why not?"

"Because she's not very nice. She called me gross."

"Why did she call you gross?"

"I don't know. She didn't like the way I was eating my pudding."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, um, I kind of like to drink my pudding with a straw and mix it with milk. And Jane Doe said she thought it was gross and then she wrote a newsletter and was going to hand it out on the playground and I saw it and it said, 'Megan is gross.'"

Without thinking I heard these words fly out of my mouth, "Next time she calls you gross, you just tell her you think her face looks gross."

As soon as the words flew from my mouth, I thought perhaps that wasn't the best advice I could have given her. But being her mother, and feeling protective, and already sensing she's had her first brush with a "Mean Girl"- in second grade mind you- I feel it is my duty as her mother to make sure she knows she should be able to stand up for herself.

I looked at Megan and saw her eyes as wide as saucers, and her mouth hanging open. "Mom! I can't say that. I could get in trouble with my teacher!"

Fair enough. She actually had a decent point there. So I took this opportunity to share with her the ways of the world, like it or not. As much as I didn't like delivering this information, I felt she needed to know the truth.

"Megan, let me tell you something." I began. "In this world that we live in, there are certain ways that people act and certain things that people do that are considered by most to be 'normal'. And like it or not, sometimes when people see others acting in a way that they don't think is normal, it makes them uncomfortable and so they say mean things because it makes them feel less uncomfortable. I'm not saying that is the right behavior and I'm not saying that Jane Doe had any right to call you gross because she didn't. But I'm guessing that since most people don't mix pudding with milk and drink it with a straw, it might have made her uncomfortable and that is why she called you gross."

Megan said, "But I like to eat my pudding that way."

"That is fine if you want to eat your pudding that way. You can eat your pudding however you want. Now that you understand a little bit how people work, you can make that choice. And you know that if you do something that others consider not normal, that they may say something that isn't very nice and that is why. Right?"

I remember so well what it was like to be in her shoes. I struggle with wanting so much for her to be a unique, interesting individual and yet, wanting her to fit in without losing who she is. Is there a happy medium? I hope so.


Carolyn...Online said...

Mean girls suck. I happen to enjoy a good milkshake pudding.

Gloria Ives said...

I think you spoke it incredibly well. I don't know about you, but, I wouldn't be a youngin' if you paid me.
What she does have going for her is that she IS a unique individual, as we all are. I have the same struggles with my teenage daughters. No, I on't think you are old enough to make your hair blonder, and Yes, you are beautiful as you are. You don't need to lighten your already blond hair, and you don't need to wear makeup, and I, I, don't HAVE to color my hair, now that It is beginning to turn grey. There are no rules regarding this. My hair dresser of 15 years would like to tell me otherwise, and would love to color my 16 and 14 year old daughter's hair. And he'd love to get me on a plan of hair dying every 6 weeks, or whatever. He'd also like me to get my hair cut more often. I just don't provide him enough services.
The truth is we are enough, just as we are;)
And liking ourselves as is, is okay.
Even if the pudding spills our her nose, it provided her an outlet for her own personal idea of "What's Good"
And By the Way, Dave Matthews was a Geek.
Amen. Alleluia. Amen. said...

Yet another reason I don't think I should have kids. I would've told her to punch the girl in her gross face.

Lori said...

I might have personally made my OWN newsletter that touted the "coolness" of a pudding milkshake and said anyone saying it's gross is a jealous goody-goody. At some point or another, all of us need to learn that we have to stick up for ourselves, and turning the other cheek is NOT always the best response. Especially if we want to have the kind of self-esteem we need in order to truly be ourselves.

Laggin said...

Ah...the sad truth...the mean girls either completely ban the Original to the...err... original side of the classroom or convert them to the land of the quiet go-alongs. I have one of each. Eldest was banished (for wearing plaid, which is probably similar to milk/pudding); Younger goes along to get along. But get her away from the automotons? And she's a total dork. I love her dorky side.

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Ms Picket To You said...

I am struggling to find that middle ground too. For me, for the kids.

Also, I am desperately trying to catch up on JenW.

But that guy above? Have seen him around.

andy said...

could I have you talk to my daughter? I think you worded it perfectly. Well done - I wish I could do so well 1/2 the time. You sound like a really great mom.


MammaDawg said...

She could try the tactic I taught my son when he was getting picked on. He turned around to his tormentor and said, "Wow. I didn't realize I was so important to you, to make you notice every little thing I do."

And he walked away.

They never bugged him after that.

Megan could always tell Jane something along the lines of, "Wow Jane. You wrote up a whole story about me. I didn't realize you idolized me so - me and my quirks."

Coz if Megan wants to eat her pudding with milk, she should be able to without having to put up with Miss Meanie.

For Myself said...

You could try explaining it this way too...Poor Jane Doe. Her mommy doesn't love her because she's gross and mean.
Or you could do it the right way, which you did. Great job. I'm sure it will help your daughter cope.

Twenty-Something said...

I think you did pretty well. I'm horrible, my 6 year old niece comes to me for advise like that and I start with well why don't you tell her...

Then I think of the look her mother would give me and bite my tongue and think of something Mother Theresa would approve of.

SF housewife said...

If I were you, I properly would say the same thing to my kids.