When your kids hurt, you hurt. There is no greater pain than seeing your child struggle—no matter the capacity—physically, emotionally, academically—all of it. It’s just horrible. For the past couple of weeks, my youngest daughter, who is in Kindergarten, has not been acting herself. My husband and I knew something was up, but she was extremely reluctant to tell us why she was not acting herself. She’s normally a happy-go-lucky, free spirited 5-year-old who has always been extremely independent. The past few weeks, she has been morose, weepy and extremely clingy—even in places where she normally feels safe and comfortable. The day she sobbed getting on the bus just put me over the edge. No one wants to see their child in a puddle of tears as they leave your arms in the morning. My husband and I pleaded with her to tell us what was bothering her so that we could help fix it. We got nothing from her for days, but she did make a point of telling me about the all-school assembly they had attended on the topic of bullying. The message of this program obviously struck a chord with her, so we figured another student may be harassing her. We tried our best to be patient and wait for her to speak up. Finally, in the car driving recently, out of the blue, she said, “Mom, I’ll tell you why I’ve been so sad.” Then she proceeded to tell me about two students who were continually calling her names and who had put hands on her. Mama Bear roared inwardly as she recounted her experiences. I struggled to comprehend how my sweet 5-year-old with a heart of gold could be a target for meanness. But I knew how because I can see a lot of myself in her. As a child, I was very similar to her—I was kind, yet not always super confident, sensitive and wore my heart on my sleeve. I had my own struggles with bullies in school.
I immediately reached out to the teacher to make her aware of the issues. Her response was very prompt and she outlined changes she would make in the classroom to ensure my daughter would feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, to get her back to school after she told us what was happening was no easy task. My husband and I walked the children into school not realizing there was a rule that no parents are allowed to walk students to their classrooms. The school psychologist was called in and she pried my crying child from my arms. Talk about your heart breaking. I cried all the way home—carrying the hurt and anxiety of my sweet girl. These are the moments of parenting that absolutely rip your heart out, but along with all of the joyous parenting moments, there will always be painful ones. All we can do as parents is advocate for our children, comfort them, provide a safe place for them and support them. And as much as we would like to protect and shelter them from the evils of the world, we cannot always do so. I saw a quote recently that sums it up perfectly, “The hardest part of being a parent is that you can’t stop the world from hurting your child, you can only be there to ease the pain.”