Monday, November 5, 2007

Oh, sad, sad...

I got a call this weekend from the mother of this month's girl-bully victim. She read me a text message that one of my teens, Thing 1, had accidentally misdirected when she hit send, and which got around to her. It started "LMFAO," (Laugh My Fucking Ass Off) and went on to talk about how great it was that she had gotten this girl in trouble by reporting to me that the girl smoked pot (which I reported to the mom, because we're good friends). So my good friend is reading me a mean-girl message that my child has written about her child - someone we've known for years. What sadness all around. My friend is worried that her child might hurt herself and I'm sick at heart because my child piled on with the abusers rather than defending the abused.

Appropriate measures have been taken: cellphone is gone, daughter is grounded, computer is off-limits, apology has been made to the victim, and I have talked, and talked, and talked, about it all. But I've especially talked about how we are all only responsible for our own behavior, how there is no excuse - not rumors of something someone might have done or said about you, not nothin' - for wrong behavior, for inflicting pain on others. She seems to have heard me (she'd better, if she knows what's good for her).

As for me, I'm trying to educate myself about this problem better (so maybe I can educate the school). I'm reading a book called, "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander," which approaches the issue both on the macro/societal level and on the micro/practical level. So we're all working on it here. And I'll leave you with this awful nugget I learned from the book. There is now a word, Bullycide, for suicide caused by bullying.

12 comments:

more cowbell said...

I'm so sorry to hear that -- it's got to be one of the hardest things for a parent, in lots of ways. Your daughter didn't just wake up one day and decide to go that route - there are reasons behind it, she's feeling her own pressures. But you know all that. Bullying is a bitch, all around.

I think this speaks volumes for the value of parents keeping in contact with each other. I know lots of times I've felt like I'm intruding, or overstepping, or being obsessive, especially if I don't know the other mom(s) well. But almost always, the contact is appreciated all around - it's hard enough navigating teenhood, moms communicating around this stuff puts a huge dent in it.

Good on you for taking the bull by the horns and educating yourself and being proactive. Sending good thoughts to you and to Thing 1.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, for the kind thoughts and words. I really appreciate it. I know we'll turn this around. And now we have a starting point for openness about it; this is where the conversation really begins. I also know she's a good kid who lost her way a bit. I've gotten lost, made plenty of mistakes, and learned from them. She will too.

And yes, communication is the best weapon, the best cure, we have sometimes.

LilyLove said...

I can say nothing more than I absolutely agree about communication. Very important. And you did AWESOME in your actions taken. Exactly what I would have done.

Doralong said...

At that age, they screw up- it's what they do.. What they take away from the experience is another story. As CB said, she was probably feeling her own set of pressures from the Queenies..

I must admit one of the good things about living in a very small place is if you screw up, SOMEBODY'S Mom is going to find out about it. The more parents keep one another in the loop, the better it is for everyone in the long run.

Miss Thing gets some commentary about being "weird" but she cultivates her weird in a very calculated way. The mean girls figured out in elementary school that she genuinely didn't give a crap about their BS, so they mostly leave her be.

Good for you for recognizing the situation for what it is- she made a mistake. Instead of going down the "where did I go wrong" route, which gets you no where. This too will pass, and fact is she probably really will learn an important lesson because of the way you handled it. Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

Lilylove: thanks for the support. Every mom, I think, hopes only that she can help her kids learn to make the right choices.

Doralong:
"At that age they screw up. It's what they do."
You know, that's just a really good thing for me to remember: they're hormonally insane, they're trying to learn how to be independent, and, like babies learning to walk, they're going to fall down a lot. It's part of the process. And my job is to help them get back up. Thanks.

more cowbell said...

Hormonally insane. Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

claire said...

This is probably too much psychobabble but Thing 1 IS a good kid and maybe she sent it to the child she was hurting because she wanted to be stopped. She was under pressure to conform to BE a bully, when she's NOT a bully, and this was, on a very deep level, her way of saying, "Mommy, stop me, please."

Elizabeth said...

Claire: It does seem odd that she hit the wrong name to send it to.... and who knows? Her little body has gone through so many changes in such a short period of time that it must be a crazy confusing time for her. For me too! So for now I'm focussing on verifiable acts and their consequesces....

Kirk said...

Hey Elizabeth, I'm reading this thread at the airport, indulging in a little absentee Dad moment, and feeling very proud of how you have handled this painful situation and managed to find a supportive community to help you (and us) get through it. You are a fantastic Mom/spouse and all this work you are doing now will pay off big time for the Things and for us. Plus it's the right thing to do...

Elizabeth said...

Awww shucks! I'm blushing. Guess you made your plane this morning. Miss you.

misscripchick said...

sorry to hear this as well--- however, i hope you do not feel any bad feelings about yourself as this is something i believe that ALLLLLL young people go through during those years and happens even to the most awesomest (making up words here) parents. all you can do is make sure they've learned how their actions have affected and be there to keep reminding them :)

Elizabeth said...

cripchick: yes. Parenting teens is, I'm learning, essentially, coaching from the sidelines. "Go teen! You can do it! You can be kind and brave and.... Ooooh! Down she goes. That's gonna hurt...." Player sidelined.