"Mom, do my ears stick out?" Alexis asked as she was gazing into the mirror.
"No, sweetie! Your ears are perfect" I said as a familiar pit in my stomach formed.
"Billy said they stick out, but I don't think so." She is still looking in the mirror, holding her hair half up and turning her head back and forth to check them out.
First grade! She's only in first grade and I already have to deal with this. I don't remember getting made fun of until I was older but once it started it was brutal. So bad that the police were involved in one incident. I was made fun of ruthlessly for being flat chested. I was 11. Back then girls didn't even hit puberty or grow boobs until they were at least 13. I was made fun of for having hairy arms. I was made fun of for having a long face. My pants were pulled down as I was getting off the bus. Girls cornered me in the locker room asking me why I didn't like some guy. One girl stole my purse, it had my glasses and a key chain that my parents brought back from vacation. This was all during middle school and I hated going to school every single day. I was not popular and I did not have a lot of friends. I was insecure, anorexic, depressed, lonely, and hated my life.
The bullies got the best of me and when I hear that my daughter is already hearing mean things it really upsets me. I told Alexis that she is beautiful and to not get upset by what other people say. She said she really didn't care about it, shrugged her shoulders and quickly moved on. Nothing was said again. Fast forward one month to the day I volunteered in her class. Alexis was so excited and of course so was I. She is only at school 3 days a week and home schooled the other 2 but those 3 days she is gone seem to last forever. Her group came to the floor where I was sitting waiting to start their assignment. Alexis and I giggled out of excitement and Billy said, "Why are you always so happy when your mom is here?" I said it's because we love each other and we love to spend time together. He said he preferred being alone and not with his parents. I started to see a little insight into this boys life. Then he asked why Alexis had a shiny head and I had a bumpy head. Confused I just shrugged it off and tried to get the group to focus. He wasn't ready to let this go. "Why do you have bumps on your face" he asked while pointing to my 'blemishes'. "You know, those pimples." Ok buddy! You are not taking me down! I did my best to keep my middle school feelings deep down and speak to him like the grown up that I am. Um, Billy... that is very rude to say to someone. That makes me sad and it hurt my feelings. You shouldn't point things out to people, ok? I know, the fact that I have such bad acne is an issue but that is not the point right now! (At the age of 4, it would be acceptable for a child to point out but not at 7) Well, about 15 minutes before I was going to leave, Alexis got a tummy ache. The same one that she has been getting for weeks now. It hurts really bad, she cries, goes to the bathroom and is ok. She continued to cry the rest of the time saying she didn't want me to leave and she hated school. I left, got in my car, called my husband and cried just as hard as she did. What if these tummy aches are more than just nerves. What if she has some GI issues going on and I'm just brushing it off to emotions? It turned out that Billy later called her and some of her friends some pretty mean names. He made fun of her for crying at school. (glad he didn't see me crying) Luckily, she has a fantastic teacher and the situation was addressed immediately. Alexis didn't even tell me that he said mean things, one of the other moms did. I was telling my husband about it and I told him I was so confused why Alexis didn't say anything to me and his response was, "Welcome to parenthood... you'll be the last to know everything." Seriously? Already?
I can't protect every minute of her life. I can't keep bullies away from her. I can only pray that she will be strong enough to ignore them and not let any words affect her the way they affected me. I can only pray that she will be more sensitive to others and never tease or bully anyone herself. I can only pray that she knows God is with her all the time and will help her through anything.