It’s a bit of a coincidence that this week is anti bullying week, considering the week we have had.
Starting school hasn’t exactly gone how I expected it to for my little one. I thought it was going to be easy. She loved pre-school, she had lots of friends, she was always happy, school would be just the same. Right?
I’m quickly finding that it’s not all that simple.
Last Friday, she came home from school a little quieter than usual. I left her to herself playing with her cousin, until just before bed she decided she wanted to tell me what was wrong. A boy in her class had told her he hated her and didn’t want to sit beside her. I tried to talk her through it but when the tears began to flow she sobbed that ‘no one would play with her’, ‘no one liked her’ and she ‘didn’t like school’ my heart began to break. This hasn’t been the only incident where this has happened. Just yesterday she came home again telling us a girl pushed her because she didn’t want to play Millie’s ‘stupid superhero games’.
I’m trying my hardest to support Millie through this, to not let it affect her too hard, and thankfully she seems to be ok. But at the same time I’m feeling sick with anxiety that my little girl is hurting. I’m worried sick that maybe she will never be accepted in school because of how original she is. And probably a big chunk of my worry is me projecting old feelings I had from bullying onto her.
You see my girl isn’t like other ‘typical’ girls. She doesn’t like doing the things that she described other girls in her class like to do such as ‘craft’s or home corner’. She wants to act out her favourite super hero’s which used to be her and her pre-school friends favourite game. She likes pretend karate and playing out battles between good and bad Warriors. Anything else to her is just ‘boring’. But others in her class don’t seem to be interested in her games. One even called them ‘mean’. But my little girl isn’t mean, she’s just imaginative in her own way.
It would be so easy for me to tell her to stop playing those games, to play what the other girls are playing, to conform. But what I would really be telling her is to stop being herself. And that would be even more heartbreaking.
You see my daughter is just like me. As a child I liked things others didn’t, I thought in a more deeper way, but I wanted so badly to fit in I ended up conforming. By trying to conform I ended up in a friendship group which was more like an episode of game of thrones. The people I tried to fit in with ended up making my life hell and bullying me in school for years. I can still remember vividly the pain those girls put me through. I can remember how sick I would feel when I had to sit in a seat close to them in class knowing that I was about to be pelted by a mass of pens, pencils and anything else they could get their hands on while the teacher wasn’t watching. I remember the fear of leaving my house for over a year in case I seen them in my neigbourhood. I remember how my eyes burnt as tears began to whelm when they called me a slag or threw my name to dirt over school when I had done nothing of which they were calling me. To those girls teasing me wasn’t bullying, it was just a bit of fun and something they could all bond over. I don’t think they realised that they actually caused me to suffer so much anxiety and depression at such a young age that would stay with me until today. It wasn’t until I found girls who I could be me with did I start to feel safe. These girls saved me from a dark place, they accepted me for my little quirks and they made me feel better about me. To this day I still have my dearest friend from back then supporting me. Shes always my safe place, if I murdered someone she’d help me bury the body and clean up the mess. She’s not just my friend, she’s my 3rd sister. If I had continued to be fake, continued to try and fit in, I would never have found her.
The one thing I can only truthfully teach my daughter is that those who don’t accept us, don’t matter. My circle is small, but it’s fierce. Those who I trust with my heart protect it with a machete and a tommy gun. And to them I’m exactly the same.
Do I forgive those girls that hurt me?
Because they themselves were just trying to fit in and I was a way to do that. But do I forget? No.
I’m probably over cautious to my little girl ever feeling the hurt that I did, but the only thing I can do is teach her to remain herself, to be kind and understanding, and hopefully along the way she’s going to find a fierce circle just like her mum did.
Lucky enough, just like her mama, she’s got some fierce family on her side to support her on her way.