Heath: Mama, Camden was mean to me in class today.
Me: Oh, really? How was he mean?
Heath: He said something mean to me.
Me: What did he say?
Heath: He said that boys shouldn’t like My Little Pony, that only girls like those toys, and that I’m a boy and I shouldn’t like it. He made fun of me.
Me: Well, first of all, it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy when it comes to liking something like My Little Pony. If you like it, then great! If you don’t like it, that’s fine. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl or boy. You like what you like and ignore the haters.
Heath: Yeah, that’s what I tried to tell him.
Me: Heath, you have to understand that a person like Camden said that for one of many reasons. Maybe he’s in a bad mood because he didn’t get enough sleep, or he’s not feeling well, or maybe his mother or father or sibling was mean or upset with him and that has put him in a bad mood. Maybe he liked My Little Pony and someone made fun of him and that embarrassed him. Or, maybe, he’s just a nasty person. I don’t know the reason why he said what he said to you. What I do know is that you’re a great kid and I love that you like My Little Pony and we should all be encouraged to love what we love, not made to feel less because of it.
I have had numerous conversations, like the above, with my children as they have aged and come into contact with other children. As we get older, we all feel the need to drift away from our parents and to find our tribe. This is a natural survival instinct. Our parents are someday going to die and leave us alone and we need those friends to lean on as we get older. But, in finding our tribe, we have to wade through the bullies, the haters, and the negativity. In confronting those negative people, we learn, hopefully, how to stay away from others of their kind, how to deal with them, and how to cope. I would love to shelter my children forever so that they never know the sting of rejection or hate, but in never knowing how those moments feel, they’ll never learn how to cope when I’m gone. I will do them a disservice if I keep them isolated from the negativity. It’s my responsibility to kiss the “owies,” both mental and physical, and help them to learn from them.
Lately, having the above discussions with my children has been difficult because I have so very poorly dealt with recent negativity in my own life these past 60 days. As many of you know, I was hurt very badly by a couple of family members two months ago and although I’ve been mostly mum about it since my one blog post, my mind has raced and run around in circles ever since. I have pretty much cut myself off from most forms of social media and have had a very hard time responding to emails unless they involve my children’s school.
I had absolutely no clue that four emails, two Facebook messages, and one unwelcome Halloween card, all from two women, would have such a profound effect on my psyche. But it has. And I haven’t been able to regain my footing. Since 2007, I’ve considered myself to be an “on line wizard” in my corner of the universe. I was on Twitter before it was cool. I jumped on Facebook not too long after. I had a family web site, then a blog, I coded in HTML and even dabbled in CSS. Hell, if you really want to get me going and not shut up, just bring up SEO and I will go on for hours. I love it. All of it. Having an on line presence is perfect for an introvert like me where the work is behind-the-scenes and I don’t have to talk to people face-to-face. All communication is type-written and I can think on it, edit it, and take my time before I say what’s on my mind. I’m not good with snappy comebacks. I typically embarrass myself during IRL conversations and I’m much better with a keyboard and monitor. I’m also a stickler when it comes to on line security, presence, and words. I’ve had a few missteps, sure, but I’m more careful than not. To have two people be so utterly wrong about me and my on line presence and abilities, in such a nasty way, and then to have it break me down to the point where I want to hide from the very things I love, has taken its toll.
I can’t figure out if I’m more angry with them or with me.
It’s hard, as a mother, to try to teach your children how to face the hate when you’re curling up into a ball and hiding from it. How can I even be effective as a parent when I am so clearly hiding? Do as I say, not as I do has never been an adequate slice of parenting advice and I know, if my children ever find out how poorly I handled this, then they may follow suit. These two months have really tested me as a parent and, unfortunately, I have been failing. Miserably. I need to turn that F into an A. Or maybe a solid B+.
So, this is me, picking myself up, dusting myself off, and starting all over again.
Hello, my name is Heather. I am a wife and mother, a daughter and a friend. I am an introvert. I love the Internet. I blog, I frequently share a bit too much on Facebook, I like to take pictures of my kids and pretty things, I keep it to 140 characters on Twitter, and I hunt ghosts. I am a Social Media Specialist. I curse but I also care, deeply. I love my family and my friends. And I will not allow the heartless, thoughtless actions of two people to bring me down.
Watch out, world. Mama is back.