Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Saying Goodbye

I dropped Lily off at school this morning with a suitcase and a big trash bag containing her sleeping bag and pillow. She's on her way to a school-sponsored winter camp for 3 days. We said our goodbyes at the door. I waited until I got in my car to break down in tears. My rather dramatic display was provoked by utterly simple, yet purely kind gestures. Small acts like the mother of a friend stopping and rolling down her window to wish Lily a fun few days, seeing another friend run to hug Lily and help her with her gear as I stood at the exit unable to leave her alone, and my girl giving me that look that says, "I've got this Mom. I'm going to be OK." 

In a right world, I would be excited to send my normally happy, confident girl off for a few days of fun with friends, but things have not been easy for her. She's been handling these trials with incredible grace, strength and courage for months even as they've escalated instead of abated. There'll likely be more difficulty to contend with at camp knowing that she's sharing a cabin with numerous girls who have not been especially kind. What started between two has come to involve too many others much to her embarrassment. I know she's so tired of the hurtful gossip, the nasty badmouthing, and the constant icing out. She's tried to clear the air, turn the other cheek and stand up for herself. Nothing has slackened the toxicity, the stares, the whispers, the snickers, the jabs, the pushes. Yes, she's been pushed...twice. It's hard for her to understand that this is less about her than it is about the main perpetrator, and also that this individual was her very closest friend for many years until she simply chose not to be.

I tucked a note of encouragement in her bag next to Allie and Ellie. I thought about discouraging her from bringing her bedtime pals, but I couldn't because I'm a little afraid she's going to need them. We won't be able to talk until she returns Friday. I'm saying lots of prayers.


I also said some carefully chosen, but honest words to the mother of her erstwhile friend this week, and I realized she was never really my friend. That realization made me feel foolish, but only until I assessed that I don't need or want people like that in my life. Sometimes goodbye is the healthiest word. Enough said.


Enough said about the specifics for now. For now because I will not be quiet about this topic. Bullying is serious even when it's relational in nature, and it's misunderstood, downplayed and rampant. Hormones should not make girls mean. Emotional perhaps. Hostile never. It is not necessary to put others down to elevate yourself. It's true that we rise by lifting others. You do not make yourself strong by making others weak. Being kind is not an option. This should not be the norm or trivialized as just middle school girl drama. The concern should not be how it looks to expose this and deal with it, but about the conversations, lessons and healing that can come from resolving conflict and moving forward in peace. Protecting your child should not come at the expense of another child's pain. As adults, mothers, role models we have responsibilities and decencies. Or we should. 


I thought about whether or not to write this here on my public blog for obvious reasons, and I decided that I absolutely need to write it here. I don't know of but a handful of people in my real life who are even aware of my blog, but if you read unbeknownst to me and recognize yourself, so be it. I have or would say these things directly to you. I have always been honest with you. I won't stop now even if that affects my popularity.


And I believe that Lily will be OK. I believe this because I know that most girls have their hearts in the right places. I know she knows her worth. I know she's not giving up on putting herself out there to make new friends, and I know she has hope that everyone can just get along. Oh, and she has Allie and Ellie. And me.

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