I have one of the kindest teenagers on earth and she has a really good circle of friends; however, whenever I visit her school, I’m reminded of why so many children hate middle school and why it’s important for mine to feel comfortable talking to me about anything. So many horrible things can be said to our children in school. Honestly, I considered homeschooling my girls, but they insisted that they needed to interact with other children. As the years go on, I’m learning that they are a tad more emotional than I was at their ages and that their tongues are not as sharp. I’ve worked hard to make sure that they lived in safe neighborhoods with good school systems and I’ve kept them away from aggressive children, but when things happen at school, I wonder if I’ve done them a disservice. See, I grew up with a sibling my same age and six 1st cousins; many who were older and taught me the game before I made it to jr. high school.
My children aren’t fighters. Sticks and may break their bones, but words will hurt them faster, and that bothers me. This is especially disheartening because in 6th grade, my oldest was called the n-word by a white male classmate and the school took it lightly until I stepped in. In 8th grade, a poorly raise boy named Eric called her out of her name and the teacher told me that they switched seats. That’s not enough for me though. Do I want the school to react differently? Yes. More than that though, I want my child to clap back! Now it’s a struggle between “Forgive your enemies” and “Slap that MF if he’s talking out the side of his neck!”
What is my current remedy for this? Pumping positive words into my children to try to counteract the negative they may experience and putting them in situations where they come in contact with children who are different than their classmates.
I write notes to them, in cards, on their pencils, via text message, however possible, so they constantly see positive statements about themselves: This is especially helpful for my oldest as Words of Affirmation (from Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages) is definitely her love language.
I travel to other states, so they can spend time with their older cousins: There is another set of twins in my family who are slightly older. My children love spending time with them and one, in particular, is well versed in the art of clapback and assertiveness.
I let the school know about any incident that they need to handle while also making them aware that I’ll ALWAYS make the time to handle it myself if they seem to need assistance.
Lastly, I’m still training my girls to be assertive and strong while letting them know that Mom has their back. I won’t be a helicopter or lawnmower parent, but my children are my number 1 priority and they know I’ll do my best to make sure they are safe and healthy physically and emotionally.