Dear Mrs. R-B.,
I understand willful ignorance. It’s a powerful thing – especially when it comes to our children. Heck, I spent a year denying that my baby girl had autism. So I get it. I really do.
But one day, something snaps. It has to. When you live with someone, love someone, PARENT someone, eventually the time comes when you see something that wakes you up – that drags you out of your bright shiny bubble of blissful ignorance. Something that just doesn’t sit right. Feel right. Can’t. Be. Right.
I find it hard – no, if I’m being honest I find it IMPOSSIBLE – to believe that in your daughter’s eleven years on this planet you haven’t had that moment yet. That moment just a split second before she plastered on that sweet, “Who me?” smile. That moment when you caught a glimpse of the face beneath the facade – the one that she shows to kids like my Katie. The ugliness beneath the “I’m so cool it hurts” exterior. Because, Mom? She is so cool that she hurts.
She plays with kids like mine for sport. She toys with the power that comes with your money, with your leniency, with the cool stuff that you buy her that serves as currency in elementary school. Currency that buys her not friends but minions who do her bidding lest they be her next target.
So it was in kindergarten when she asked the kids at a birthday party to raise their hands if they didn’t like the birthday girl.
So it was that two months ago, my baby girl finally – finally – came clean and told me about her insidious cruelty – her oh-so-crafty jibes, her just-under-the-radar manipulation.
So it is that her brand-new, begged for jacket – the one she simply had to have because she wanted so desperately to fit in – went abandoned after one wearing. So it was that I wouldn’t pull the story out of her until six months later when finally she could say to me, “You Know Who told everyone that it was SO last year as soon as I wore it. That she couldn’t believe I’d wear something so lame. But Mama, she’d worn one exactly like it the day before! I felt awful about it, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sorry.”
And so it is that I clean up mess after mess and try day after day to convince my girl that her worth – or God forbid lack thereof – cannot ever be determined by your daughter’s – or anyone else’s – opinion of her.
And so it is that my girl continues to swallow your girl’s shit and not tell me until days, weeks, months later. Because she thinks she has to. Because everyone else around her thinks they have to.
Because a school can’t change a child whose parents don’t see who she is.
But how is it? How is it that every teacher and every parent and every kid knows what you don’t see? How is it possible that you have no idea how much pain your daughter leaves in her wake? How is it possible that you’ve NEVER caught her in the act of making someone’s life miserable when she spends so much time perfecting it?
She’s good. I get that. The teachers have told me just how good. But she’s eleven. And you’re her mom.
It’s time, Mrs. R-B. Please. Not just for Katie but for so many more like her who are bound to cross her path. Watch your child. Really watch. See what’s happening. Do something.