On my best days, I pray for you. I feel bad for you. I wonder what your home life has sown into you that is now reaping such ugliness. I wonder if your mom and dad know the things you say and do. Maybe you only have one or the other? Maybe they are the ones you have learned this from? Or would they be shocked and disappointed? I work hard not to judge them. Would they say things like, “This is not how we have raised you”?
I wonder who’s been mean to you. Have you been bullied too? I remind myself that hurting people hurt people and you are simply acting out of your own pain. I feel a spark of compassion for whatever pain you carry and I feel strangely curious about your internal life–Are you mad? Are you sad? Do you know you’re being mean? Is it on purpose? Do you ever feel guilty? Do you ever feel bad? Do you ever think of my daughter and wonder how she feels? Ever? You didn’t have to be her best friend–just friendly would have been enough. But either way, it’s your loss. She would’ve had your back. She’s loyal. She’s kind. She’s true. She’s brilliantly clever and creative. And funny. But apparently those qualities aren’t trending these days.
On my worst days, I hate you.
I hate what you’ve done to my daughter.
I hate the way you’ve made her feel.
I hate the things you’ve said and done– all the eye-rolling, the smirks, the huffs and the knowing looks between you and your friends. The outbursts of laughter at her expense. The way you have excluded her. The way you have made someone so beautiful and shiny and precious feel so ugly and dull and worthless. The school day memories you have stained with a thousand tears. Hers and mine. It’s petty and wrong and right on your level-but it’s human:
There are moments when I want you to be bullied
and excluded and hurt the way she has been.
I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how on earth you have been tricked into thinking your behavior is okay. I wonder where your parents are. I think things like, “The apple must not fall far from the tree” and I wonder if anyone has ever told you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And I think about karma. About what comes around goes around. And I think, I hope you get what you deserve. And then I stop. Because I wasn’t raised that way. Because that isn’t the person I want to be. Because I can’t be the mom I need to be if I’m too busy being bitter and wishing you pain.
But truthfully, most days I don’t have time to let you take up too much space in my head. The day my daughter came home from school sobbing, literally falling through the door and choking out the words, “I can’t do this anymore”, we decided to home school her. That’s right–even though we pay school taxes in one of the most highly ranked districts around, we home school her. You go. She doesn’t. You’ve made the price not worth the cost. The suicide of a local boy last month and the deaths of other kids your age are stunning reminders that for now, we have done the right thing. We have made the right choice.
We are not hiding our daughter from the reality of life–we are protecting hers. I know you are not the first or last mean person she will meet, but we are giving her a reprieve from you.
The school can potentially keep you from being mean by imposing rules and consequences, by initiating expensive anti-bullying campaigns and promoting clever anti-bullying rhetoric, but they can’t make you be nice. And there’s a big difference. They can’t make you like her. It’s not their job to sow love and kindness into your heart so that your life will reap goodness and mercy and grace towards others. But along with reading, writing and arithmetic, that is my job. And I take it very seriously.
6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Daughter’s Bullies. Including, But not Limited to the Mean Girls.”
Bean, your blog was excellent and right to the point. I can’t believe I have such a brilliant daughter. Mom and I are truly blessed.
Julie, well said. As an aunt, I think about my niece all the time and hope the best for her. As a teacher, I CRINGE to see the way kids treat one another, and I wish I could somehow instill some kindness. As a mom, I sort of dread the day my little girl will go to school and I know I will wonder how she’s being treated.
This letter has brought me to tears as I just finished writing my own letter to my daughter, based on the exact same brutal subject….. Heart breaking is it not ? You’re letter inspired me and I thank you for that, it’s very easy to feel alone as a parent, as if I’m the only one going through it, which clearly I’m not….. I hope and pray you’re daughter is well…. Thank you again, from one Mother to another!
Dana, I’m so sorry that you are your daughter are also suffering through bullying. It is an absolutely heart-wrenching experience. I am happy to tell you, however, that my daughter is back in public school and is doing very well. She still has her struggles–as there will always be unkind people–but she has learned some coping mechanisms, has matured some herself and has grown a thicker skin, I guess. I truly wish you and your daughter strength and peace. Thanks for commenting~
Dana- I am so sorry for what you are going through. Many people don’t understand or minimize the exclusionary behavior. My daughter is going through the exact same thing, but it’s frustrating because many people don’t consider this bullying. Sometimes it’s overt. Sometimes it covert. But it affects your child so much. I actually have been tossing around the idea of homeschooling. I hope your road gets smoother. You are in my prayers.