For Christmas, I gave my ten year old Hannah a journal titled “Just Between Us: a no-stress, no-rules journal for girls and their moms”. We both like to write and I thought it would be a fun thing for us to pass back and forth. It was full of questions and topics for us to write about. There were also blank pages labeled “Free Space” and it was what I read in that free space one Sunday night that broke my heart in two.
She had been too scared, embarrassed and ashamed to tell me that a “friend” had been telling her wildly inappropriate things at school. She wrote that she felt like she couldn’t be a kid anymore and she couldn’t ever un-know what she now knows. I had to find out what she knew. Gulp.
Turns out she knew more than 18 year old me knew! I cannot even blog about the things this girl told her. They are TEN YEARS OLD. I was so enraged, I wanted to flip out, start yelling, go completely insane and call that girl’s mother immediately. But I had to keep it in so that Hannah didn’t feel even more self-conscious. So that she knew she could talk to me. So she knew she had nothing to feel ashamed of. So that she knew that everything was ok.
I sat there with my baby girl and went over each and every thing this disturbed little freak had told her. I smoothed them over one by one, struggling to put each one in the appropriate context for a ten year old. All the while I was imagining grabbing the other girl by her curls, dragging her to her mother and insisting she get her some counseling.
The next day, I spoke to the mother and she was apologetic. When the girl called to apologize, I made sure both she and her mother heard me tell her thank you for the apology (although honestly, I really wanted to say you can stuff your sorries in a sack) but that it’s best if they go their separate ways now and keep their distance. In other words, stay away from my kid!
Life’s innocence and simplicity seemed to have vanished…but I thought about the good that came from this. I learned how to handle sticky conversations. And I learned that my daughter feels close enough to me to trust me with her deepest darkest feelings and concerns. She learned that I will be there when she needs me. These are the positives.
I hate that she knows that stuff. She hates it, too. For days afterward, we were shaken. We discussed it in the car on the way home from school. I told her pretty soon it would fade because we don’t have minds that focus on things like that. We are too busy growing toward the sun! We are going to resume thinking about kittens, cupcakes and rainbows! I looked in my rear view mirror and saw her laughing when I said that. But she did not disagree.
So that’s what we’ll be doing.