Hard Conversations

 February 16, 2012

I’ve been having a truly heartbreaking series of conversations with my little Ladybug. They started last Sunday when just the two of us went out for a day of shopping. We were chatting away, me from the drivers seat and she from her car seat in the back when out of the blue she asked, “Mommy what if the kids at my new school laugh at me?”

Caught by surprise I queried, “why would anyone laugh at you?”

“You know Mommy…because of my lip.”, (an annoyed "duh" was implied).

Stunned I searched for her face in the rear view mirror. She looked worried and her usually spunky eyes were now downcast and sad. My mind flashed to an image of some 5 year old incubus teasing my sweet innocent daughter. I fought back my own sadness and resisted the urge to go full out tiger mom on an imagined preschool bully.

“Did somebody at school laugh at you?”


“Was it somebody at gymnastics?”

“Nooooo!” (this time with a tone usually reserved for teenagers). “Mommy, no one laughed at me, I just think I look funny and maybe the new kids will laugh at me.”

(She is so stinkin' observant and reflective. This kid has an old soul.)

I desperately wanted to tell her she is beautiful- PERFECT in every way. I wanted to dismiss her worries as silly and reassure her that no one would ever make fun of her or say anything unkind but I knew it was a lie. No matter how much I try to shelter her someday some rotten little brat is going to say something that hurts her.

As much as I want to protect her I know what I really need to do is prepare her.

And so I didn’t dismiss her fears or give her some false assurance that everyone will always be nice.

Instead I gulped hard and acknowledged that her lip and nose were different and sometimes people might tease her about it.

We talked about why she was born with a cleft (which of course we have done many times before) but then we talked about how she could respond when someone makes fun of her .

That conversation has continued since Sunday and we’ve been role-playing and practicing how she can respond in different situations. We’ve run the gamut from; educating, ignoring, being assertive and demanding the teasing stop and we’ve even come up with a few snappy retorts for just the right occasion.

(Of course her big brothers told her to just let them know about anyone who wasn’t nice to their little sister and they would “take care of it”. Can you say Soprano’s ? And while I don’t want to promote aggression I can tell she feels safer knowing the Bigs have her back.)

Tonight as I kissed her goodnight she informed me that I should talk to her teacher and have the teacher  “tell the kids to be nice” to her.  Sigh, if only it were so easy.

It all makes me wish I could keep her little and safely tucked away in her preschool or better yet keep her at home... forever.

Does she really have to grow up and walk the mean streets of kindergarten?

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