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Tell me why

As my husband and I ponder the best place and path for our oldest daughter...

our beautiful precious Angel,
who feels so deeply and intensely,
thinks so logically,
and who is, apparently, not on the same track as her peers,
for intelligence or emotional development,
and who is,
according to educators,
just enough ahead to make it slightly challenging and uncomfortable

As we ponder her

amazing empathy
remarkable insight
deeply embedded and held intellectual curiosity
inspiring self-motivated learning and accomplishing

I asked her, off-handedly, for a real reason but no real reason what she thought of the kids in the grade ahead.

The only one I really know, Mom,
she told me,
was really really rude, like mean.

How's that I asked?
Heart pounding in my chest, recognizing that here we go again
I think

In the bathroom, my beautiful precious Angel said,
In the bathroom this girl told me that she hated me.

Hated me
echoed around the deep cavern in my chest created to house the huge love I have for my girls.

Hated me.

In the bathroom, my beautiful precious Angel said,
In the bathroom this girl told me that my classmate who I thought was a friend really, really hated me.

Hated me.

Who I asked, which classmate.

When she told me I was surprised not shocked surprised.

Tell me whyyy
Tell me whyyy
I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you're thinking

Do you think, I asked her,
Do you think that maybe she is afraid of your friendship with her friend?
Do you think she was trying to scare you away to protect her friendship with her friend?

As my mind hummed and hate me echoed around my heart, my girl told me
Told me that she asked her friend and her "friend" who always acted so kindly towards her as I could tell
Her "friend" who seemed to be so nice
Her "friend" who plays with her nearly every day on the playground
Her "friend" said
"Yeah I sort of do hate you."

And I thought I sort of do hate this a lot.
I sort of do want to tell your mother on you.
I sort of do want to tell all parents on both of you.

I tried really, really hard
to get over being a mad eight year old and furious mama bear inside

I tried to think what a real grownup would do.

Do you think that, I asked her
Do you think that she meant it?

I don't know, my beautiful, precious Angel said.
I don't know.

I resisted the urge to buy cotton wool for wrapping her in and instead wrapped her in my arms.

But, stoic, she resisted.

In both our eyes something bleak.

Let's go down to the water's edge
And we can cast away those doubts
Some things are better left unsaid

But they still turn me inside out
Turning inside out turning inside out
Tell me...
Tell me...

I tried to not make this me, about me
But I do not know, yet, how to overcome this sense I have of my girls not yet being out of me

In some way, they are more in my heart than ever they were in my womb.

It is how I know loving a child has more to do with being her parent than any part of giving birth.

A baby is born from a womb, but grows forever in a mother's heart, never born out of there.

It is why what she feels I feel and this I cannot stop.

So hate me echoes around that huge cavern that grew to house these girls as they grow in my heart.

And I try to think how to make it better, this hate that has been told to my beautiful precious Angel.
I try to keep my big mouth shut.
I try not to feel turned inside out.

These are the tears...
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head

I'm sorry, I told her
I've had people be mean to me that way and honestly
I told her
Honestly I sort of hate them back and it hurts inside.
It makes me feel a little broken, or wrong somehow.
Like maybe there is a reason in me for them to not like me.

Yeah, she said.

But we can't all like each other, not all of us.

Yeah, she said.

As my husband and I ponder our beautiful, precious Angel and how to do right by her

the strength she has inside
the internal drummer
to whom she marches
her beautiful mind
the mind her teachers always call amazing
her sense of justice
her prevailing sense of how things should be
even though they are so rarely
the way they ought to be
and our girl
eyes wide open
and all other senses just as open
knows this
feels it all so keenly

What I know is this...
to survive, you have to shut it down
shut it down enough to survive

I do not need to wrap her in cotton wool
She is wrapping herself.

And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel?

How it feels to watch your child wrap herself.

In her head, I can read what she is thinking.
And I've heard it too many times.
I've said it too many times.

Cause I don't think you know how I feel
I don't think you know what I feel
I don't think you know what I feel
You don't know what I feel

Oh my beautiful precious Angel, heart on two lengthening legs, oh my baby, with my lumpy throat
I know how you feel.


Christine said…
oh julie, i'm sorry your sweet girl is hurting & that her once-upon-a-time friend is hurting, too.

Kat said…
You brought tears to my eyes with this post, Julie. I'm sitting at my desk almost weeping for your beautiful girl.

It's so hard to watch them, and help them, navigate this stuff. Sometimes we can't do anything and that is THE worst feeling...indescribable, really.

I used to tell my now-grown son, when he was her age, that the school years are something to be endured and that adulthood is SO much better, just hang on. And thank God, it's turned out to be true, for both of us.
slow panic said…
hugs to you and your daughter.
Mayberry said…
oh, oof. The heartache. Beautifully expressed.
Dear Julie.

Thank-you. For using your words to articulate a very similar experience I am having with my darling eldest 7 year old daughter.

I am stronger for your sharing. Blessings,

S said…
Oh, Julie. We've been going through this, too. And it's breaking my heart. But I'm standing back. So tough.

I wrote about it here and here.

This was a haunting post.
ewe are here said…
"But we can't all like each other, not all of us."

Ouch. Such a terribly hard thing to learn, to internalize, as an adult sometimes... even harder as a sensitive, kind girl who just wants to have friends and be liked. I'm sorry she's having such a difficult time right now... I can only imagine how hard it is to watch and not be able to 'fix' everything.
Anonymous said…
Oh wow. Wow. What a lovely, poetic expression of the pain you both felt/feel. Yes, why does it have to be so hard sometimes?

I have to say, I really admire how you handled it. My two girls are going through similar friendship angst these days as well, and I'll be sure to remember your words when I need to console them. Thank you for a beautiful post.
Anonymous said…
Oh wow. Wow. What a lovely, poetic expression of the pain you both felt/feel. Yes, why does it have to be so hard sometimes?

I have to say, I really admire how you handled it. My two girls are going through similar friendship angst these days as well, and I'll be sure to remember your words when I need to console them. Thank you for a beautiful post.
Mr Lady said…
She is wrapping herself in cotton.

And how it feels to watch that.

Um? Yeah.

I'm a little speechless. That means you did very, very well.

Thank you for this.
Julie Pippert said…
It has taken me a bit of time to come back to this post, and to thank all of you for your lovely comments.

It's been time well-spent as my daughter and I improved our perspective on this. (See above post re getting through things rather than around them :) )

Christine, thank you.

Kat, oh it means so much that this resonated with you. yes, that's it: so hard to watch them navigate.

Slow panic, Mayberry, thanks.

Chrsula, yes, that's about the same age. I'm so glad it helped to share. I hope you and your girl are better now.

Slouchy, read that, commented, so touching, thanks.

Ewe, yes so hard, so very hard. I do want to step in and fix, but I have learned to empower children to fix on their own. Mostly. But her heart is sensitive like you caught.

Well versed mom, thank you so much. I know you will be the strength and consolation your girls need.

Mr Lady, I'm touched, thanks. :)

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