When my eldest daughter was born, way back in 2003, my world completely changed. I think most parents would say the same.
Suddenly everything was different, and not just because you were in shock over what just happened, and deciding whether or not it was more crucial to have a shower, or just keep cuddling this precious little bundle forever, but because the world itself became a completely different place.
There was a meaning ascribed to life that there had never been before. I wonderful purpose in living, and a whole new dimension to loving. I was looking at this little girl as if she was in fact the very reason the entire world had ever existed, and let’s face it, she kind of is. 🙂
But something else changes the minute you become a parent too. You are suddenly so much more vulnerable. The strong woman that has just pushed herself through the pain of labour, or the uncertainty of a caesarian or, prior to that, nine months of being completely battered in all parts of her body, is suddenly exposed and open to pain she never thought possible. As if someone has just ripped out her heart, or the very purpose for her existence, and put it in her arms in a very cute, but fragile package.
I will never forget the first time they drew blood from Taylah for her heel prick, and it wouldn’t bleed so this well-meaning mid-wife squeezed and squeezed whilst my 2 day old howled inconsolably; the emotion that rose up in that moment in me was completely unprecedented. I could quite easily have scratched that woman’s eyes out. (Thankfully I didn’t. :))
That emotion, after 10 years, has perhaps softened a little, but not so much so, that when I heard about some nastiness that occurred at school last week, I wasn’t tempted to march myself to a few 11 year old’s homes, and give those a girls a piece of my mind. And quite possibly a punch in the face. (Again, didn’t do it. Also never would. Just in case you are worried. :))
I didn’t realise just how hard things were for my girl. She had mentioned not really wanting to go to school, and the absence of a really great, close friend is definitely a contributing factor, but what I didn’t realise, is that she’s been victim to some not very nice behaviour. I guess you might even call it bullying.
It’s pretty classic stuff really. At the start of the year, she struggled with maths and they called her stupid. (I never knew 🙁 ) She’s doing much better at that now, so they have found other ways to persecute her. Such as calling her the teacher’s pet, or a ‘goody two shoes.’ I think there is also probably more.
Perhaps worse, is that she is the victim of their wrong behaviour, often being punished for doing things she never did, but they said she did. She’s become so fearful and frightened of these girls, that last week she even admitted to do something she would never do. The teacher herself even made the comment “I didn’t think you would do that.” It’s beyond heartbreaking.
And again, making me want to kick some 11-year-old bums.
Initially I was a little annoyed at the school, wondering why they haven’t seen this or done something, but the truth is I can’t be. Taylah has been keeping this to herself in fear of getting in even more trouble with these other girls; she’s even been too scared to tell me lest I tell the school. When I asked her, why she hadn’t said anything, or why she won’t stand up to them, she said these next few words that have broken my heart more than I think anything before.
“Because I’m not the girl who stands up to people. I’m the girl who sits quietly in the corner so people won’t see her.”
Fighting back tears, and the urge to use a pop culture reference she would have no understanding of, I immediately challenged that thinking.
“No. You are not the girl who sits in the corner. You are the girl who stands up for what is right. You are strong and courageous and wonderfully made. Do not let anyone put you in a corner.”
The truth is though, it is not these girls, or any one incident that has led to that thinking. It’s her. She has put herself in the corner, and that is perhaps the most devastating of all. In her evaluation of her life so far, this has been the conclusion she has drawn, and at an age where she is beginning to form conclusions about her self and the world and her role in it, it is all the more crucial that this is not where her thinking ends. She cannot be the girl in the corner; that is not who God made her to be.
At the beginning of last week, I would have told you my eldest was strong and confident and aware of there amazing-ness. This is the girl, who, just last weekend, took centre stage at the Darwin Entertainment Centre for her ballet concert. That girl was poised and perfect and strong.
That girl literally stood in the middle of the room. Not in a corner.
Friday comes, and the world shifts and suddenly the hurt in her heart comes out. And I am torn between wanting to storm in to the school and give some kids a piece of my mind, and actually thank them for one stupid prank that helped this truth come out. Because if it didn’t? What then?
How long would she have walked through her life with a faulty sense of self?
What would the coming years have brought?
At least now, we have direction and a focus and we can give her the tools to see herself the way she should be. The way that she actually is.
Because nobody puts my baby in a corner.