Family / Parenting

What Happened at School?

IMG_2406Last week, my daughter came home from school in a bad mood and when I asked what was wrong, she said, “Nothing,” but it was the kind of “nothing” that most definitely felt like something.

She was quiet throughout dinner and the early evening, and I knew there was something bothering her so I morphed into the Most Annoying Mom Ever and kept asking if something had happened at school. Finally, my persistence paid off and she said, “Yes, something happened at school, and I don’t want to talk about it. I’m fine.”

The words “something happened” set off some deeply primal protective instinct within me, and I was suddenly like the mighty African Elephant and not just because I haven’t worked out this winter–I was going to protect my baby! Never mind that she had specifically told me that it was none of my business. I was going to find out what had happened, and I was going to set it right!

So, I gave her space for as long as I could stand and then went into her room and said her name in my sweetest, most caring and thoughtful mom voice. She turned her attention from watching Rosanna Pansino and said, “Yeah?”

“Can we talk?” I said with The Mom Voice.

She tilted her head, “About what?”

“About what happened at school.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes and said, “I told you that I’m fine! A kid said something to me, and it hurt my feelings because I feel like it might be true, but I’m dealing with it myself.”

What I heard was, “An ignorant jerk of a classmate said something horrible and broke me into a million pieces that only your motherly love can repair.”

“Tell me what he said.”

She sighed again, “No, it’s not a big deal.”

I begged, “Please!”

Then, my nine year old daughter lectured me, “Mom, when I am older and no longer live at home, I am going to have bad days. Things will happen that make me sad or people will say things that hurt me and I will have to deal with them without you. So, I’m trying to learn how to do that and what happened today is no big deal.”

I pointed out that it’s important to share the hard things with people in your life and that, especially in adolescence, it would be important for us to be able to talk about hard things. I truly believed my sincere Mom Voice would lull her into spilling her secret.

She smiled the sweetest of smiles, put her hand on my forearm and said, “You are making this a bigger deal than it is.”

I could no longer maintain my Mom Voice and switched to Feral Toddler Voice and said, “Tell me!”

She laughed and I decided to run through every possibility and with each question, my intensity increased.

“Did he make fun of the way you dress?”

“Did he make fun of your family?”

“Did he accuse you of having a crush on him or on a girl?”

She was rolling her eyes so much at that point, she looked like a cartoon character who’d just been hit with a frying pan. When she finally answered, she said, “He doesn’t care about any of that and if he did, why would I care?”

And that’s when I realized how far we have come. She has been made to feel different for every reason I imagined and laid out in those questions to her, but she is over it and it seems that most everyone else is too.

She never did tell me what he said but she did tell Luisa, probably because Luisa doesn’t bother with the Mom Voice and doesn’t conduct emotional interrogations.

So what did he say that bothered her so much?

He thought she had a bad temper.

I never imagined I’d feel so relieved to hear that.

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5 Comments

  1. Love this.

  2. I wish our kids could hang out. I have a feeling they’d be fast friends.

  3. I think we’re twins. Sort of. For one thing, I’m a guy. But more than that, my inquisitions are only one part protective instinct. The rest is the sheer love of gossip. Even 3rd grade gossip. There I’ve said it.
    Excellent essay!

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