WARNING: I’m about to condone violence amongst children.
After Cheyenne was flickered in the nose last week, I’ve been a tornado of anger, swirling about. I was stark-raving mad–Caleb and I had to negotiate each other off the "Kick a 13-year-old’s ass" roof that we were about to jump off of. At the very least I planned on giving his mom and dad an earful right before I tweaked their noses. And then something happened: Cheyenne stood up for herself.
I’m going to get flak for this, I know. I really don’t care. I’m not even going to be one of those mommies that say, "I’m not trying to encourage violent behavior, but…" because that’s exactlty what I’m doing, at least to a certain extent. I’m staight-up glad Cheyenne shoved that boy the hell out of her way when he tried to block her. It made him back off, and she hasn’t been bothered again. It probably took that little punk by surprise.
Cheyenne, at school, is the mousiest girl you’d ever meet. She’s not big by any means–she’s incredibly skinny and delicate. She makes straight A+’s. She’s quiet and shy and she lets people walk all over her. In other words, she’s a walking target for anyone feeling less than secure about themselves, which, in middle school, is pretty much everyone. She has gone from quiet to painfully shy to straight-up scared to talk to people, she had stopped dressing up–stopped carefully coordinating her outfits, stopped wearing make-up and jewelry…even stopped combing her hair–really. She just rolls out of bed and slings it back in a ponytail. She quit the cafeteria entirely and eats her lunch in the library, and instead of checking out her normal, challenging, way-above-grade-level books, she opts for simple Nancy Drew or Baby Sitters Club. Can you say "Down-ward Spiral"? She’s had a tough time this year–it’s become harder and harder for her to be sociable, even with the few good friends she used to have. This has made even more withdrawn. The thing that puzzles me is that she seems perfectly content–alone in her room at home, or standing by herself at school, for the most part–until someone starts picking on her. It’s especially hurtful (Hell, to her and to me!) when the picking comes from her so-called friends.
Now Caleb’s talking me down from the "Call an 11-year-old a bitch" cliff. I would never, ever, call a little girl such a thing, of course…but my protective nature is raging to come out and tell off just about every kid that ever made Cheyenne upset, to go nuts on the principal, the teachers, even the lunch ladies for not noticing what was going on last Thursday, to write anonymous letters to every house in our small town and warn them "LEAVE MY DAUGHTER ALONE"…but of course I can’t do that. It would do no real good.
I firmly believe that for Cheyenne to be "happy" again, she must make herself happy. She has to decide how to react to certain situations. She has the power to ignore, or run crying, or fight back. She determines how she lets things or people make her feel. Caleb and I cannot possibly rescue her from everything that happens to her. We can distract her of course, and get involved when we need to (i.e. making a call to the principal and letting him know what’s up) but as far as what went down last week goes…I think she did a good thing.
Yeah, I said it. And I’ll say it again, and I’ll say it to her. You shove that kid if he blocks your way. If he tweaks your nose, tweak him back and then go tell a teacher. If some little boy runs up behind you and slaps you on the butt, you punch him, in the face, as hard as you can. I got your back–Caleb, too. If you get in trouble, so be it. But damnit, somebody else is coming down, too, and not just the kid that did it in the first place–but the people in place at your school that are supposed to prevent stupid stuff like this from ever happening to begin with. Cheyenne, you do what you’ve got to do. I’ll handle the rest.
I gave her another pep-talk. Be Cheyenne again, Cheyenne. Be proud of who you are. You like pretty clothes. You like reading. You make good grades. You tell insanely funny jokes. It’s okay! You’re so awesome and you act like you don’t even know it! Don’t dare be ashamed or embarrassed of your looks, your body, your intelligence, whatever. You don’t owe anyone excuses or apologies for the way you are. And give people a chance! Not everyone is out to get you! Why, they’re "just as scared as you are"! And give people a chance to get to know you! Don’t deny your public!
Cheyenne’s wearing dresses again. She’s putting on pink eye-shadow and tootsie-roll flavored lip gloss. Yesterday she wore a ribbon in her hair–that she did comb. Instead of glasses she wore contacts. She took out 3 books from the library that I’m not even sure I could read. She’s brimming with ideas about how she wants to decorate her room, and she’s itching to spend her money on a new scooter. She’s got a spring in her step and a smile on her face again.
So, my daughter shoved a fat boy bully, got a across a message, and earned a little self-confidence in the process. Thank goodness for that little semi-violent streak. I don’t know what I’d have done without it.