I've been hesitant to write this story, and I'd like to say that's it's fiction or purely hypothetical. But alas, it is not. However, the tears have been shed and consequences and apologies have been accepted. But first, I must document it in my written world of lessons (hopefully) learned.
To begin, I must assert my disgust for bullies. I think they are the pathetic assholes, to put it mildly. If you spend your youth picking on the shortcomings of others you clearly don't have what it takes to overcome whatever it is that has you feeling so bad about yourself that you so desperately need to steer the negative attention toward someone else. You will surely end up the fat, bald, drunken low life loser that no one feels sorry for because you deserve it. Anyway...
My daughter got off the bus smiling, making no mention of the terrible news she knew I would be receiving from her teacher. "How was your day?" "Good." Nothing. She really should have warned me and spared herself the public humiliation she would soon endure.
There I was, sitting at her softball game watching her play, so innocent. I had recently been bragging about what a good girl she had been lately; cooperative, pleasant, helpful. I was glowingly proud. And then...her friends mother came over to me:
"Did Madeline tell you that the girls got in trouble at school today? My daughter said they were picking on another girl, calling her fat and telling her she should go on a diet. Ms. Welcome will be sending us an email about it."
I was crushed. I felt like a parental failure. My proud glow had now turned into a flaming rage. This did not sound like my daughter. We have had the bully discussion many, MANY times. "If you have nothing nice to say, SAY NOTHING. Bullies suck and you are a nice girl. I know you would never be a bully, I'm just saying... And when you get picked on by a bully, shake it off, because they are just picking on you because they know you're awesome and they are not."
And then I was PISSED! The little girl they were picking on was on the same team, as was the other little bully. I had seen all three girls hug and play just before the game started, so clearly the poor girl had forgiven the two bullies. NOT ME! I was just getting started plotting my revenge on her behalf.
I looked out at my little short stop and seriously considered storming onto the field to begin torturing her, but my mother-in-law was there with me and I didn't want to mortify her by beating her grandchild in public. I waited until the inning was over and pulled her aside to ask her what happened, praying that there had been some kind of misunderstanding and that she was not one of the assholes in this situation. She was. She confessed, sadly. I was dumbfounded. I just stared at her for a minute trying to imagine my sweet little girl being such a little bitch. "I am...UNBELIEVABLY...DISSAPOINTED...in you" I stuttered. I walked away and left her crying her eyes out.
By now, her beloved Poppy (step-grandfather) was also there. So here I was with a devastated seven year old and an audience of two of her grandparents, other parents, two softball teams and their coaches, and the other bullies mother, all of whom were looking at me wondering what I had just silently done to my poor, poor child to cause her to be so upset that she had to sit out the whole next inning while she pulled herself together. I heard her coach tell her to "pretend the ball is your mother" during her next at bat, and even the little girl that she had picked on looked at me like I was mean and crazy when Madeline gave her a hug and apologized again. I was now, very thankful that I resisted the urge to storm onto the field, rip her off by her ponytail and beat her with her own softball mitt. I was actually more satisfied that it took nothing more than my obvious and genuine disappointment in her to bring her to tears, lots of tears.
The lecture was long. It went on for days actually, as I was haunted by the thought of MY daughter, the BULLY, and had to make certain we were CLEAR on how this was ABSOLUTELY NEVER EVER TO HAPPEN AGAIN! Some highlights:
"No one likes a bully. Bullies have friends only because their "friends" are afraid of being bullied. And eventually, when everyone gets older and wiser, those friends are no longer afraid of the bully and suddenly realize that they actually don't even like the bully. Now the bully has no friends. Let me tell you how the universe works. The kid that gets picked on for being ugly, will one day be beautiful. The kid that gets picked on for being a nerd, will one day be rich and successful. The kid that gets picked on for being fat will one day be thin. And the brat that picks on all these kids, will be one day be the fat, dumb ugly loser with no friends."
She was sorry. Genuinely sorry. She has assured me that it will never happen again, and I am quite certain it won't. Her teacher had also assured me that she had never seen Madeline behave this way before, and she too, believed she was very sorry.
I suppose that every parent will stumble upon the bully issue. I was always just so worried about my kid being bullied and having to fight the urge to walk into school one day and beat the hell out of the asshole bullying my kid, that I was not prepared for my kid being that asshole.
I believe Madeline has grown from this experience (and not just out of fear of what I may do to her next time). She has learned something about the power of words; that they can really sting, and the value of her parents opinion of her. She may have preferred a beating over the heartbreaking look of disappointment in her mother's eyes.
It's over now. We have agreed to move on and never speak of this again. And I am back to feeling like an awesome Mom (for the moment).