As we pulled away from their after-school care, all the kids were buckled up being their general rowdy selves. Each day they try to talk over their siblings in efforts to command my attention; you can imagine the noise could challenge that of a crowded stadium. Today was a tad different, my oldest was quiet, drawn within herself watching the passing pines.
"Alia, sweetie, did anything make you mad or sad today?"
You'd think that I wouldn't have to ask this question - that if something was bothering one of my kids, that they'd be a gushing waterfall to share it. But no. I've learned I have to ask for them to know I'm interested and care.
It's as if I'm giving them permission to be vulnerable.
Alia, did in fact, have a rough day. One of her best friends called her dumb, and apparently this has been going on for a long time. If that wasn't bad enough, he seems to dropping her friendship to smooze another gal which has led to him ignoring Alia. She doesn't comprehend it all and is understandably hurt. One of the things she said over and over was, "I don't understand why he calls me that; I don't know how to get him to stop."
This is heart wrenching. I try not to look deep into things like this, but I see a dangerous path for Alia if she allows this to continue to happen: To change to appease others, to allow others to demean her to maintain relationships, and to think verbal abuse is normal and acceptable. And so I have to fight it - but how do I help with this?
Help her set boundaries.
She doesn't understand the implications of boundaries, so I changed it to Laws. Laws, I explained, are rules that are consciously set to protect. Just like a country, she can make some for herself. If her laws aren't thought about and established, how does she know (other than feelings) that someone crossed the line? To further this thought, just like if a law is broken there are consequences, what happens when a person breaks one of the Laws of Alia? Of course she didn't have any answers, but the conversation certainly spurred some new thoughts for her.
Our next step is to outline the Laws of Alia. I'll keep you updated. Do you have similar expereince? How did you deal with it?