Behbeh has this annoying habit of growing up. I know right? So inconsiderate of her. She’s also incredibly smart (and yes I know EveryParentThinksTheirSpawnIsAwesome… but mine actually is :P) Being a smart Behbeh means she picks up on things extremely quickly but she’s also a very very loving and sensitive little girl. She loves playing with people and laughing and giggling and JUMPS at any chance to play with other kids. For her birthday we took her here:
The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. I highly recommend if if you have kids between 1.5 – 12. She loved every single second of it. We meandered our way through the museum slowly, trying each exhibit and reveling in her giggly joy at being allowed to touch all she could see. Then she found this:
OF COURSE her papa and I wanted her to sit down and pretend to be a genius piano player, but before she was able to sit down, a rather loud little 4 year old boy pushed past her (!) and sat down instead. To make sure she didn’t get hit by accident, I asked her to wait her turn until the boy was done.
Lobster noticed the boy’s parents were in the vicinity and were watching their son (just barely – apparently their phones were far more interesting to look at). Boy then commences to play the piano with all the grace of an elephant. Now and then Behbeh would place her hand on the side of the piano just so she could touch it – mind you, not in the boy’s way at all. The boy would then (each and every.single.time.) slap her hand away. By the third time I was about ready to slap the boy off the seat and then drag him to his useless parents and ask them to please stop procreating such spawn.
Instead, luckily for the world, I was blessed with a Lobster who is much calmer about these things than I am, and got in between Behbeh and the boy. Mind you, the boy’s parents? Still there and still doing nothing.
Behbeh and her Papa eventually forgot about the whole incident and they moved on to the rest of the awesomeness in the museum.
It stayed with me though as we walked around. I started noticing more and more how absent some parents were to the fact that their children were little bratty hellions. I mean seriously, my brother and I were taught if there were younger kids around, you were careful. You didn’t shove them to the side as you ran past. I saw plenty of that going on. I saw (mostly boys for some reason) kids pushing other kids so they could play with the toys there or stopping other kids from taking turns and parents were blissfully oblivious or worse still, just didn’t care.
It was ridiculous… and very scary for me to see.
Over the last two years, I’ve been hyper aware of the bullying situation thats been coming more and more to light. I’ve read blogs of mothers who have had “Mean Girls” situations happening to their little girls. You hear about kids committing suicide after being bullied and alienated throughout their school careers. It absolutely frightens me that my Behbeh will one day be around a group of kids that could quite possibly try to stamp that little light in her, out.
And I would be left to do nothing but ask how the heck it happened.
I don’t remember being bullied as a kid. I wasn’t, by any stretch of imagination, popular… but I was lucky enough to grow up overseas where everyone i went to school with that I was friends with, was too busy worrying about grades and sports to worry about their waistlines in middle school. My looks and my body just weren’t on my radar of things to worry about until I got into my senior year and then more so once I got to college. By that time though, I was old enough to know I liked who I was and what I was and had a good group of friends around me to support that.
In hindsight, I realize now that I was very lucky to have come through as unscathed as I did. I also realize how much harder it will be for Behbeh now, especially here in the US where its common for girls as young as 5 to be on diets and worrying about their sense of fashion and how pretty they are.
It started to make me feel so very helpless… and so very very frustrated. I love that little girl. More than anything in this world and the idea that I can’t protect her heart is just gut wrenching for me.
Then a friend of mine put up a link to a video of a news anchor who was chided by a viewer on her weight (I highly recommend watching it)… and I remembered the advice my friend Rabia had given me when I was posting how I had my scale next to the fridge in the kitchen. She told me to move that out of the kitchen, stop using that number as a way to judge myself AND watch how I create habits in my daughter. She reminded me that I was my daughter’s role model. I was what she looked at to see what type of woman she would grow up to be.
Since moving to this apartment (6 months now) my scale lives in the bathroom, away from Behbeh’s eyes and I can’t remember the last time i weighed myself. I refuse to be defined by a number and rather, strive to be healthy physically and mentally. Those are things I want Behbeh to learn.
I want her to know that while we’re raising her to be aware of other people and be kind, to also not let herself get walked over. She should love who she is and how she looks no matter what anyone else says or doesn’t say…
I want her to be a confident little girl that knows its totally okay to wear pink and still want to be a super hero (a la super Grover 2.0). As for me, I could help her with her confidence by showing her mine and surrounding her with the strong confident women I have been lucky enough to have in my life.
As for the bullying – I grew up in a house where we were taught to accept everyone as they are and as they look. I want her to have to the same. Bullying and judgement is something that is taught to kids, they aren’t born with it.
I would encourage each and every one of you to take some time with your kids and tell them the same. That people no matter how they look, dress, talk or what their skin color is – are people just like them.
As for if I’m going to end up homeschooling her to protect her from everything… Lobster says “HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL NO”.
… We’ll see…