I've been waiting for it,hoping it would never happen.
It has. Happened.
Liv and I took Socks for a long walk last night. The weather was gorgeous and I haven't felt well all weekend, so haven't been able to get out into it.
Plus, Liv is having a very hard time adjusting to junior high. Well, I don't think it's junior high, really. I think it's a school that isn't Montessori. She came home last week, stressed because she had to know the Memorare by heart the next day ("Remember oh most gracious Virgin Mary...)
Montessori was never big on memorization. I think the only thing she ever memorized was the multiplication table and the states. And I had issues with this. WHY do they make the children memorize this? But, I sighed, reminded myself that we knew going in that this was a Catholic school. So, Bing and I, having both grown up in Catholic school and still knew the thing by heart, we coached her. She memorized it.
She doesn't like the discipline through threats. The first day, her teacher laid down the rules, what the punishment would be for this or that infraction. Liv was appalled. She comes from a school where children are taught that when the teacher runs her fingers through the chimes, you stop whatever you are doing and look up and listen quietly. They've done this since pre-school. Discipline is rarely, if ever, a problem at Montessori schools. Well, this is traditional school.
Liv came home terrified that she would do something wrong, not be aware of it and be punished. I talked to her at length about how we KNEW this was coming. Did she need to speak to the school counselor? She said no, that she wasn't some weak baby.
She began having stomach aches every single morning. I steeled myself and made her go to school anyway. She went. I felt like I was sending her into stress every day, but I told myself that she needed to acclimate and she would be fine. Bing told me to stop worrying, let it go, that all kids have problems with junior high. Did I know ANYONE who LIKED junior high? No. So, there.
Liv's face became more and more pinched. She's never been a big eater, has always been borderline skinny. Now she began to eat less. She shared a little, not much. I didn't push, tried to wait patiently.
So, as we walked the dog last night, I hoped for some conversation. It came. She sighed and said that this long weekend sure went fast, didn't it? I agreed. She thanked me for the pebble that I slipped into her pocket on the first day of school, telling her to finger it when she felt scared or missed me.
"I think I have rubbed that rock raw, Mama," she said, looking away.
My throat constricted. I nodded. Waited.
She wasn't going to talk without prodding, I could see that.
I finally asked her to tell me what was the worst thing about school.
"Well," she said, "Some of the kids aren't that nice. You know that boy that called me a tree toad and then a flamingo because my legs are so long and skinny?"
I said I did. Pee Butt, I thought privately.
"Well, last week in front of everyone, he called me lesbo spawn."
I swallowed hard. Shit. I had worried about this, but hoped that it wouldn't be an issue.
I told her that I thought that this was something that maybe an administrator should handle, did she want me to call the school? Talk to her teacher?
"No!" she said, immediately. "This is something that I have to handle myself, Mama. The last thing I want them to see is me whining or being a tattle tale."
I asked her what she did when he called her that.
"I just looked at him and laughed and said, 'Is that all you've got?' and he didn't say anything else. Well, until lunchtime and then he asked me if I was into girls since I played soccer. So, I asked him if he needed some tips since he was obviously not doing all that well in the girl department. That shut him up. But, it probably won't last..."
No, I agreed, it probably wouldn't.
"Mama, I think that maybe it looks bad for me because I like math and I was talking to this boy at lunch about fantasy football leagues because he and I both are into them. Also...yeah...I play soccer. And I don't know...maybe I AM into girls. I don't think so, though. I mean, I get all shy around Ben Malvern because he is really good looking. I wonder if there's something wrong with me..."
No, I told her. You are just not that into boys yet. Or girls. Doesn't matter yet. And I think you are handling your tormentor pretty well. But, what can I do? What can I do to help?
"Just let me talk to you when we walk Socks," she said, leaning her head down to touch mine.
I wanted to cry. This is what I feared would happen. Should I step in? Let her handle it for a while longer and see how it goes?
Should I have even had her? I knew from her birth that this battle would be hers to fight sooner or later and was it selfish of me to want to be a mother, to want to bring a child into this cruel world?
A lot to think about on a chilly Tuesday morning.
What do you think I should do? Advice? I would love some ideas.