Basically, it's pretty much over.
The police have talked to both Frances and Marilyn, and to their parents. Yesterday the school counselor called me to see how Beebie was doing, and she's really doing great. Both girls have apologized to her, and she's forgiven them, and it's in the past.
Beeb never heard how bad the messages really were, and I'd like to claim that I did that out of some sort of supreme parental wisdom, but it was really out of laziness. After I heard a few of the messages, I just figured the rest were going to be basically the same and I quit listening to them.
It was beyond excruciatingly painful for me to see her being picked on. I myself was picked on quite a bit when I was her age, and there's still a part of me that will never, ever fully trust another woman because of how I've been bullied and backstabbed by other girls for the better part of my life.
I've been burned and betrayed by women more times than I even want to recall. I guess I kinda expect a guy to treat me like shit and screw me over, but when a woman does it, it hurts and scars me so much more deeply because no matter how guarded I am, it surprises me every single time - girls just aren't supposed to treat each other like that.
I saw my daughter handling the situation in a far more mature way than I did when I was ten. On the one hand, it made me think of what a jackass I would have been to those Mean Girls in retaliation. Ok, probably wouldn't have done anything back, but would have wanted to reeeeeeeally, reeeeeeally bad, and would certainly have cried myself to sleep a couple of nights a week. Really, I would have handled it like a complete pussy, who am I kidding?
On the other hand, however, it made me feel really good, like I've somehow actually managed to raise a well-adjusted kid. A kid more mature than I am, sometimes. How is that possible? The child is cursed with my neurotic DNA, including but not limited to my deep-rooted self-loathing, my OCD/antisocial tendencies and my constant sense of worthlessness and inadequacy.
Where did I go right with her?
I've tried to help her get involved with different activities at school so she can develop her interests and meet other kids who share them. Both of the Mean Girls are in the school's Special Chorus, along with Beebie. She hasn't asked to drop out; in fact she said that she really enjoys the Special Chorus and she's not going to let any Mean Girls ruin it for her. Wow. Here I am thinking I'm protecting her by trying to shield her from conflict, and here she's saying Mom, it's really okay. She's so much wiser than I am. It's enough for her to know that I've got her back.
It's really been rather uplifting to look back and see some of the choices I've made with regards to her over the last several years and how they've impacted her in a positive way. The one incident that stands out in my mind most prominently is when her best friend died three years ago, when he was eight. I wrote about it back in March of 2006, if you want to look at it.
I had the responsibility of calling the parents of the other kids in Jack and Beeb's class to tell them about Jack and the visitation and funeral arrangements. I remember other parents asking me if I was going to let Beeb attend the service. How I could let my daughter attend the visitation and funeral, knowing it would be so difficult and sad? I couldn't believe they were asking me, because to me, there was never a question.
How could I possibly deny her the chance to say goodbye to her best friend? How could I tell her No, I just don't think you're old enough to handle it? I couldn't fathom that. I didn't want her to resent me years later for not letting her go. And I thought it was important for us to let Jack's family know how thankful we were for the chance to have known him, even for what was really a very short time.
That was a call I made that others questioned - including my own parents and my husband's - that I have never regretted for a single moment. Yes, it was sadder by far than anything I've ever experienced. Yes, she and I held each other and cried the entire time, but I can't imagine not having the opportunity to remember Jack with so many other people who loved him as much as we did. I've never, ever regretted taking her with me to the visitation, the funeral and even the cemetery part. Beeb handled ALL of that shit with a maturity beyond her years. I was a snivelling wreck, of course, but she was amazing.
And I think that her friendship with Jack also helped her see how a real friend should treat you. I trust her ability to judge character and know who's a good friend and who's not. I've always believed that was Jack's enduring gift to her; a gold standard of what to expect from a true friend. And I love Jack for that.
The Jack experience was the closest I've ever been to questioning the existence of God. And sometimes I still can't believe that God would let this amazing kid live for eight years and then take him away. He never got to learn to drive a car, never went on a date or a college visit, never did all the things that parents look forward to their kids doing. And yet, the life he had was full, and the fact that we got to meet Jack at all is truly miraculous.
But enough about that. My point is just that I got some stuff right. A big thing. I made a choice in the moment and I've never doubted that it was the right one, and Beeb is the mature, well-grounded, self-confident kid that she is partially because I gave her a chance to experience something difficult. There is wisdom in pain. Nobody wants to see their child hurting, but it's important to keep in mind that This Too Shall Pass, and when it does, wisdom will remain.
It's our parental instinct to cover our babies with our wings until the storm passes, but shielding our children (and, for that matter, ourselves) from pain and suffering denies them the opportunity to learn and grow and gain from the experience. It denies them wisdom. What parent would deny their kid wisdom, no matter how they acquire it?
Flashlight TO THE HEAD. I still can't get over it.
I know I did the right thing, I mean, I guess I did. I feel good about it, and I'm so proud of Beebie. She hasn't let the whole experience make her feel bad about herself or about the other girls. She's moved on. I, on the other hand, hold grudges forever. FOREVER. It's awful.
I should let shit go and make room for more important and edifying stuff in my heart, brain, memory and soul, but I never do. I totally have to figure out why I'm like that.
Why can't I just grow up and act like my ten-year-old?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Basically, it's pretty much over.