When I was 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter, an ultrasound revealed that she had stopped growing around 33 weeks of gestation, and I was sent to the hospital to be induced. She was born weighing 4lbs 12oz, and after an 18-day stint in the NICU, we carefully buckled our small child into a car seat and drove her home.
Eisley (or Little Bird, as we all call her) is a healthy, athletic child five years later… yet she is still very small. She is a 3T in most shirts and skirts and a 2T in shorts and slacks. She still fits into certain 18-24 month clothing and is continually pleading with me to let her squeeze into some 12-month dresses so she can wear them as shirts.
The girl eats well… she’s only small. Because of her weight and height, I kept her in a rear-facing car seat until she entered kindergarten. She was so small that when she injured her leg early this summer, there were no crutches or knee scooters small enough for her. I’m worried about her riding the bus to school. SO LITTLE that when I brought her to her pre-team, invitation-only gymnastics class on the first day, the coach looked at me as if I was insane and demanded confirmation of her age.
Having said that, the main point of this piece has almost nothing to do with my daughter’s size. I only bring it up because I want anyone reading to respond with the proper level of dread when they read the following sentence: A boy at school punched my daughter in the face last week.And, yeah, I have photographs. But I’m not going to share them because, well, I’m not that mommy. I’m not interested in shaming anyone or publicizing my 5-year-old’s black eye.
Let’s just say this child smacked her so hard that her eye swelled by the time she went home. It was so hard that the next day it was bruised and puffy. It was difficult enough that I wanted to conceal her black eye with makeup before sending her back to school, but I stopped since the LAST thing I want to teach her is to hide it when someone hurts her.
Unfortunately, it appears that I may have missed that lesson. The worst part for me isn’t that the boy punched her… I’ll save you any maybe sanctimonious remarks about how I feel about that section because this youngster is five years old and I have no idea who his parents are or what his home life is like. My opinion on that aspect of the matter isn’t helping anyone.
The worst part is that this boy punched my young daughter in the face and she refused to tell me what occurred.First, she claimed she couldn’t recall how she had been injured. She then stated she had fallen on the playground. But as the day progressed and her eye swelled up like it had been punched, I realized I wasn’t getting the whole picture… and she refused to hand it over to me.
Instead, she became agitated, clinging, and moody. She cried alone on the couch, stopped talking about anything, refused to play with her brothers, sing songs to her baby sister, or act like herself in ANY way.My father quickly saw her eye and asked her what occurred at supper that night. Fortunately, she told him the truth. But it terrified me when she stated she didn’t cry because she was ‘trying to be tough.’
It frightened me even more when she stated she hadn’t told anyone because she was ‘trying to be polite.’ What are we teaching our daughters? I left this child’s father when she was a baby because I refused to raise her in an environment where abuse was something women should hide and accept, so how did I manage to teach her this? What is the source of this?These are not rhetorical questions.
I’m looking for answers. I don’t care if she’s five years old. My boys, regardless of age, would never have reacted to this circumstance the way she did. My young kid has somehow learnt that she must be ‘nice’ at the expense of herself, and I’m not having it. Which is essentially what I told her teacher the following morning at 7:30 a.m. during our conference.
Perhaps she was astonished that I wasn’t there to demand that this small boy be punished, removed from my daughter’s presence, or anything else of the sort. I don’t think he should be disciplined, but I hope he is. But he’s not my child, and my main worry was ensuring that this instructor intended to assist me in teaching my daughter to have a VOICE. I wanted to know if she would advise her not to protect individuals who hurt her or anyone else.
My kid and I are both fortunate that her school took this tragedy seriously. But I hear about schools that don’t fare well in these kinds of situations every day. They push things under the rug, claiming that youngsters harass each other on sometimes, that little boys are tough, that children get boisterous now and again, and that children are sometimes cruel to one another.
I’m here to tell you that I don’t agree. I refuse to accept it for my child, and I refuse to accept it for yours. I will not tolerate boys or girls hitting each other, whether they are five or fifteen. None of this is acceptable. And it’s especially bad when a little girl is reluctant to report a male who struck her in the face for fear of not being ‘kind.’
We can do better for our girls than this. In general, we can do better for our children. Let us not educate our daughters that being kind is so vital that it prevents them from sticking up for themselves. So, to the parents of the little kid who punched my daughter in the face, I apologize. I’m not sure why your son did what he did, but I forgive him.
I’m sorry if he’s having difficulty. I’m sorry if he’s in mental distress or simply unsure about who he is and how to treat others. I’m sorry if he’s going through some unpleasant transitions or circumstances. I forgive him, and I forgive you as well. But I know you’re capable of doing better. So, too, can I.