Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Repellant child of God

Listen to post:

Bullying carries a lot of weight these days; it's weighing heavily on me. More so on my youngest.

The situation is not overt, more under the radar, which makes it more difficult terrain. I keep asking myself if what she describes and I have observed firsthand is, indeed, bullying. It borders more on stalking. I am not talking violence or verbal threats, but, rather, insinuations and quiet intimidation.

Several people whom I respect and have dealt with this issue suggest I start a paper trail and talk to the teacher NOW. A couple of weeks ago, I told my daughter her options were to publicly confront the person, tell a teacher, wait the year out or talk to another child this girl is harassing, then go to the teacher. She says she has tried the first, does not want to tattle and can hardly live with this. Last week when the bully was absent, my daughter was thrilled, only to discover she just arrived late. It colored her entire day.

I have a sense that this girl is hurting ... from a divorce five grades ago that she tells my daughter she's okay with. It seems she uses the manipulation she has developed in dealing with her parents to attempt friendships. Apparently, my daughter is the one who tolerates it out of kindness and, as a result, has been paired in every class with her. My daughter is tired of the burden, but the girl won't let her put it down.

I am ready to have an informal talk with the teacher because my wonderful book club of neighborhood women helped me see that this may be a step in getting the other girl assistance and not just my daughter, relief.

I am a nurturer and I want to nurture this girl, but she's a hard one. Probably the product of a hard marriage and a harder divorce. She has no siblings and told my daughter, recently, that the second child is always an accident. She's knows my daughter is the second. I believe it really hurt my child, but I told her this girl is trying to justify that she was the wanted one.

We all desire that ... to be wanted, loved and accepted for who we are.

So how can I call her a bully? I am struggling, yet I also see my child's self esteem eroding.

I find myself at the place of WWJD even though I feel making it an acronym emblazoned on bracelets several years ago cheapened the idea. What would Jesus' response be? I understand it would come out of love.

So how can I protect my daughter out of love and still project love toward this troubled girl? I've run through the scenario of inviting her to my house and befriending her, but I know that would not be a loving gesture toward my own daughter. Perhaps I don't label her behavior, but bring it to the attention of their teacher informally and ask her to pay attention. I think this girl is asking for help.

Last week on a field trip, I watched her, how she so innocuously wormed her way into sitting right next to my daughter even though we had chosen seats far away and with our group. When a boy spilled his soda and went for napkins, she whirled right into his seat. She had been waiting for that chance. I told my daughter I wanted to sit in the shade and we moved. I knew the new neighbor had made her nervous. The girl stayed put and started annoying the other kids and boasted that's what she did best and this was a day she wanted to bother people. I asked how she used her extra energy and tried to engage her in a conversation for more creative ways to channel it. I explained that being a pest was not creative or appropriate.

I think the heart of it is this girl wants to be close to someone and tries to bore her way in. No one has taught her another way.

I feel compelled to speak up lovingly to the teacher and out of concern for both girls, not just my own. I will make this process a prayer because that's the best I can do. Please hold this child, my child and the process in prayer.

• How have I reacted to poor behavior?
• How have I been able to be prayerful about my response?
• To me, what is Jesus' primary lesson?
• When have I been prayerful in a difficult situation involving others?
• How can I view all others also as children of God -- even when they seem out of line?

her stature
real and created
makes you almost
forget she's a kid

barking, bodily
forcing her way in

wanting to be front
and center
no matter what it takes

it's almost repellant

until you remember
she is just a child

a child of God
looking for

just like me


  1. Cathy,
    Having been bullied in Junior High both subtly and overtly, I can tell you that it changes a person's personality and trust level for years to come, if not for a lifetime. I appreciate your kindness toward the other girl, but sometimes, people cannot be helped -- and do not want to be (or their parents do not want them to be). The only person you can truly "save" is your daughter -- and you must do whatever you can to make that happen (without making it public and inviting problems with other children.) It is a delicate balancing act, you are correct about that. I never told my parents about the problems I was having (though they wondered why I wanted to transfer to another school.) I wish now I had because it couldn't have gotten much worse -- and it might have been made better. If this is having an effect on her confidence and enjoyment of school then it is already too much of a problem. This is a subject I know well and one I am passionate about. Sorry for the lecture! ;-) But, you know me!!

  2. Thanks so much for the insight and sharing what must be, still, a difficult experience. I am NOW e-mailing the teacher to have a private chat. Last night I thought about inviting the girl over to have a talk with her ... but I think I should start with the teacher; she may know things I don't. I appreciate the push and "lecture" anytime!
    -- Cathy