A mean girl

“You guys don’t know cursive, do you?” She asked my two very sweet girls minding their own business while drawing pictures.

“I know how to write my name is cursive.” My oldest responded, still staring down at her paper

“But you don’t learn how to write in cursive for anything else, huh?” She shot back.

“What DO you guys learn at school?” Our 9-year-old homeschooled neighbor asked but it was more of a statement than anything else. 

My 3rd grader proceeded to tell her the things they learn at school. And I could hear our neighbor’s eyes rolling to the back of her head. Just like her mother’s eyes do when I talk to her about how our kids are going to school and we don’t homeschool because I work full-time. Plus, God just didn’t give me the desire or the gift to homeschool my kids even if I didn’t work full-time. Sorry bout it. 

Lord, please take away these thoughts. Help me to not hate a family. 

Yeah, I said it. And it’s a shameful part of my heart. But it is a real struggle that is constant. This family has been the most judgemental family to ever encounter our family. Every dynamic about our families are different, especially the grace we show each other…or the lack of it. And most of the time, it hits me where it hurts. 

I was bullied by girls like this in elementary school. I was nice and sweet, like my oldest is. I didn’t think bad thoughts about the other girls. I wasn’t trying to compete with them. I didn’t think I was better than them or felt threatened by them. I didn’t think lowly of them. I just wanted to be their friend. My oldest is the same way. 

“…what was your name again?” She asked my 6-year-old for the 5th time since she’d been over for the last two hours. We’ve lived two doors down from them for 8 months and have played with them almost every single week since then. She knows her name. 

“…oh you guys drink from water bottles? That’s interesting.” With eyebrows raised and pinched lips.

Protecting your family from people who leave you feeling badly about yourself is something I don’t think I’m very good at. 

I’m better at exposing ourselves to those people and then explaining to the girls why we aren’t going to act like them, or treat other people like that. And then, how they are to handle people who treat them that way. We will still be respectful to them, but I do limit the time they are exposed to them and will come up with some bogus excuse as to why it’s time for them to go home.

My daughters will encounter girls like this. Who throw daggers from their mouths, who live in households where this is not ever corrected or even observed…in which case it is probably modeled. 

Most of the time, the daggers are subtle, feeling more like bee stings than stabs. But then the comments are so frequent that you realize it’s starting to hurt, that something isn’t right.

When you are an outsider looking in on this type of behavior, watching and listening to how your children respond to the “mean girl”…it’s a sobering feeling. But at the same time, it’s paralyzing. You don’t know what to do in this situation because their parent isn’t here and you’re NOT their parent. You also might not be close enough with this family to have an understanding of what kind of behavior is acceptable in your home and what is not…and if they will be offended if you correct their child. 

If you look closely at the girls coloring together. It looks nice. They may all be smiling. Oftentimes my girls won’t even know when something mean was said. But I’ll know. And the one throwing the daggers–she knows. 

It’s in moments like this, where you are in the most uncomfortable situation and you feel like you are betraying your children by allowing this person into their lives. By not cutting off that friendship quick and fast. There will be periods of time that I’ll put off those weekend playdates, or I’ll tell them I need help with the laundry first or “maybe when ______”, or “it looks like they aren’t home.”

But I come to the realization that I won’t always be around to put those boundaries around them. One day they will encounter those mean girls at school (they already have), where they will see them every single day. They will not be able to escape them. And all they can do is understand how to react and handle this situation. Identifying what is happening and understanding that they aren’t going to allow themselves to be treated that way, because they recognize the feeling of “oh, that hurt. Why did it hurt? Because it was mean. And people who are my friends don’t make me feel this way.”

So after I make up an excuse to send her home, my girls will ask about the excuse. Usually it revolves around chores. And I’ll tell them that the way she was treating them was not respectful and it was time for her to go home. Then we’ll talk about what is respectful and what about the things she said was mean, and unacceptable in our house. 

Please don’t mistake…I know a mean girl when I see one. And sometimes, that mean girl in is one of my girls. And in my opinion, it’s my responsibility to help her understand when she is acting like someone who is not welcomed in our home. Nobody is perfect and I know my girls will fail. They will throw daggers and hurt someone’s feelings. They already have. But I’m not in the business of raising perfect women, I’m in the business of raising wise, kind, prudent, discerning and strong women. 

And that means that they can say uncomfortable things to their sisters and their friends to correct them when they know they are not being treated in a respectable way. 

“Excuse me, Maya, I wasn’t done talking. Please don’t interrupt me.”

“Elena, that wasn’t very nice and you hurt my feelings. Can you please say you’re sorry?”

I am one of the worst communicators I know. I feel very uncomfortable living a life where I don’t apologize for someone else’s faults, where I can be confident in myself because I am confident in the Lord’s love for me, where I don’t have to fight for other people’s attention and focus on me because I’m rooted in Jesus, and where I’m not afraid to call out what is right and what is wrong. 

That’s the ultimate struggle! To be like Jesus was. Being strong and kind and loving. By confronting sin with respect and kindness. Understanding your worth, while calling out the best in others around you. And doing that, is not always nice and easy and comfortable. It comes as a shock to someone and may even offend them, but it doesn’t change what is good, right and true. 

And because of that, despite how uncomfortable I’ll feel by correcting another woman’s daughter in my home–I do it. Because I have respect for my daughters and my home and I also have respect for THAT daughter. Who may not know, that what she just said or how she said it was disrespectful and hurtful. I’ll do it in a firm but kind way, so she knows that yes, she is welcome back in our home but not if she decides to speak this way.

And if she goes home and her mom is offended by that, I will show my girls what it looks like to have respect for myself, while calling others to respect me as well, unafraid that she might not like me anymore (because if I’m honest, she doesn’t really like me as it is, so what am I even losing?) because Jesus has called me to identify what is good, right and true, as well as being strong, prudent and discerning.