Hi. We don’t know each other, in fact, we haven’t even met. You weren’t there today. What I gather is that your daughter came to the city with a couple of friends before school starts. Fortunately, they weren’t homeschoolers from our area like we thought at first. I’ll fill you in on the details that you missed. The trampoline park was full of kids today. I have a feeling that the parents who brought their kiddos and your daughter weren’t expecting it, since schools here went back to school today, but the homeschoolers decided today was just the day to celebrate back to school with a trampoline day.
My girls were there, excited and anxious. They’ve wanted to go to the trampoline park since they first saw it when we moved here a year ago. They were also excited to meet some other homeschoolers, since they moved away from all their friends last year. When we got there, my youngest was scared of all the kids running crazy and literally jumping off the walls. My middle was struggling deeply with the great desire to play freely and join in, but terrified to speak to strangers or have too much attention put on her…she’s always been the introvert. Then, there was my oldest. She’s 7 and a half and the definition of “social butterfly.” We only went there today because of her. The other two and I are happy as clams to stay home and make our own fun, or only go to parks when we have it to ourselves. But, London needs interaction like she needs air. So..we went. Plus, she truly desires friends in a way I’ll never understand.
Right from the start, London spotted a group of three little girls her age. Your daughter was one of them. She instantly looked at me and said, “mom, can I go play with them? what do I say? how do I start a conversation with them?” I smiled and coached her gently telling her that they looked like they are in gymnastics. I told her to ask them if they are, and tell them she is starting gymnastics herself this week, but doesn’t know much yet. And see if it goes from there. Maybe they’ll even teach her some! I thought humbling herself would be the best fit, because who wouldn’t want to talk to a sweet girl approaching you about your hobby, and acknowledging already that you are superior to her.
So, she went over and started talking. And, I’m not going to lie, the girl can be awkward. She is pure of heart in a way I never have been. She does not read social clues well, because she always thinks the best of others, ESPECIALLY kids, which means she didn’t catch the vibes your daughter was sending immediately. However, the two sisters instantly welcomed her, even giving grace to her three year old sister who kept jumping in on the lane when it was their turn, waiting and laughing patiently as I hauled her off again. But, I could tell from the start that your daughter was a “mean girl”. I hate to say that, truly. Because, I love women. I don’t even say that lightly, I LOVE women. I have laid down my time, resources, and all of my energy at times to teach, lead, serve, and encourage women from little girls to women much older than me to women inside prison. And I am raising girls who will do the same, even if they don’t know it yet. So, when I see a mean girl, it breaks my heart. And from the start, your daughter undermined my daughters. She ignored London repeatedly, pushing for the other two to leave her and go play elsewhere. She cut in front of my smiling three year old who had no idea how rude it was. She cut in front of my five year old who knew exactly how rude it was, but felt helpless to do anything about it.
Everywhere we met them, the two sisters interacted, smiled, played with us. And your daughter usually left and went to pout elsewhere, even though my girls and I continuously tried involving her. Finally, I was jumping with the three year old on a tumbling lane. The five year old was off doing her own thing, just as she liked it. And London was playing with the other girls, but when I looked over, I saw her crumpled on the ground and crying. I instantly panicked thinking she had broken an ankle or something. She was crying so hard, but silently (which, you know as another mama means a much more intense pain than when they’re screaming and carrying on). I practically dragged the preschooler along, trying to get to London who was now alone. “What’s wrong?! ARE YOU HURT?!?” I couldn’t get there fast enough. I scanned the area to spot the five year old, thinking I’d need to call her in and get London to a doctor pronto.
I got to her, and dropped down beside her. “What’s wrong?!?!” And what I heard broke me in places I’ve never been broken before. London gasped between sobs, “She said they hate me.” Hate. Just like that, your daughter introduced hate to my daughter. She’d known hatred of the stories of people killing our police officers. She knew of hatred of people hating African Americans simply because of their skin color. She even knew of hatred of human trafficking, kidnapping, and other crimes, but this was her first personal connection. I couldn’t even process. I was so mad. So, so so mad. WHAT? She said WHAT? London cried, “she said they hate me and they don’t want to play with me. I tried to hold it in. I tried to get away, but she chased me and said it again. said that they all hated me. and she said that I was a cry baby when I couldn’t hold it in anymore.”
At the time, I didn’t want to even speak to your daughter. I couldn’t think of anything to say or do that didn’t include something I would do if I had ever heard my own daughter speak to another person that way, and that’s just illegal and frowned upon. I needed to be away to breathe, and I needed London away from prying eyes to process. I told London that we were leaving. I called in the other two saying that we were going. The three other girls knew instantly that they were caught, one for being the meanest thing I’ve ever met, the other two for allowing it. They ran over, the oldest sister asking what happened, as if she hadn’t been standing right there. I told her and the other two flat out what your daughter did, that it was NOT okay, that it was mean, and that we were leaving because we don’t play with mean girls. What did your daughter say? Did she apologize? Feel guilty for being caught in her hatefulness? No. She pointed a finger at one of the sisters and said, “SHE CALLED HER A CRY BABY!” And just like that, your daughter threw her friend under the bus. We left. The other parents came over as we were leaving and heard, but didn’t make a motion to right the wrong. We left with them all playing and laughing. Their lives will probably never be effected, but my seven year old’s world will never be the same again.
And yet, I do not wish for this to be reversed. Because, even though I wish your daughter hadn’t been so unkind, and I wish you had been there for me to speak to, I don’t wish the roles had been changed and your daughter had been spoken to as such. Hopefully, some where deep down, her heart took a snapshot of my daughter crumpled on the ground in tears, cut deep from the words your daughter spit out. I pray that the Holy Spirit uses this for God’s Glory, and she’ll be changed forever. It was our first day of school, first day of trying to make new friends, but we learned new lessons instead. I pray that you don’t brush this off if you hear of it like the other parents did, thinking of it only as something that happens with kids, particularly girls. Because your daughter is embedded in our memories. She will be spoken of for years, living eternally as a lesson of what not to be. My girls will hear mention of hatefulness, and instantly think, “right, like that girl at the trampoline park.” Because kindness and unkindness lasts forever to the recipients. And who in the world would want that for their child?
But, we are praying for you. We are praying that your family is safe and happy, and that you are blessed. We pray that the girls have a great start to school and that they do great this year in their gymnastics they’ve been working on for three years, as they said. mostly, we’re praying you know Jesus and that His amazing love warms the parts of your hearts that thinks so little of words and hurt. Because I’m not going to lie, today, your daughter was mean, but she is gifted with boldness…we can’t deny that for sure. She is made in the image of God, and contains His thumbprint in that boldness. With His love replacing her jealousy, she will be an amazing witness of His grace speaking truth to all, no matter the environment, audience, or expectations around her.