I never ever like to get up in anybody's business. I believe firmly in live and let live and leading by example. I don't like to criticize as I truly believe most folks are just doing the best they can every day, just like me. We all make mistakes and we all fail as humans, continually.
All that said, I witnessed something awful the other night and I feel compelled to talk about it. It hurt my heart.
The scene of the crime, Target. The time, 7:30 pm.
A mom on her mobile phone, walking around with 3 teenage girls. The mom was clearly speaking with another girl's mom (one of the other girl's moms I'm guessing). The conversation was shocking. A grown woman berating several other teenage girls who weren't there. They way they dressed, the way they acted, what they said. The girls were of course feeding into the conversation as it happened, because Mom was doing it, why wouldn't they? The laughter and venom spouted was palpable. It hurt my heart and soul. It hurt me for everyone involved. There were no winners in that situation.
I was slack jawed. I froze. I did nothing.
This is my way of doing something about it. Later. After I've paused and thought and talked listened and meditated on it. Thank you to my friends and husband who encouraged me to blog it out.
I was bullied by mean girls in high school. I was going out with boys a year older than me and some of the older girls didn't like it. So they took it upon themselves to make my life hell. They made fun of the way I dressed (very prim and proper, but it was the 90's and we were pretty covered up), they made fun of me in the gym locker room and at auditions for different after school activities. They made fun of me on the Powder Puff field. They made my life terrible for a period of time. I will never forget what that felt like. I did nothing wrong. I did nothing but be a kid going about my business. I think if you talk to anyone I grew up with, they would tell you I was a very nice girl. Nice to everyone. My mom taught me to be kind and I was kind. I did nothing wrong.
Eventually it passed and I didn't really have to do much except be strong and kind and weather the storm. Thankfully I had my mom and my friends to help me along. Not everyone is so lucky. We hear a lot about bullies these days. There are arguments on both sides about "let kids be kids and it happened to me and it makes kids tough" and all that old school nonsense that seems to be prevalent among those who may not be so kind. There is teasing and there is bullying. There is an almost torturing of kids that if we let it go on can have absolutely terrible and lasting effects on kids for the rest of their lives.
I used to think girls were just awful. I was pretty terrible to my mom as a teenager. And I think that's par for the course. She would say, "Oh Kitty, you weren't that bad." Because she's my mom and she loves me. Today I think differently. I know many very kind girls. I don't think all girls are awful. But I think, similarly to their mothers being afraid and protective at times, that's how they act out. You throw the gang mentality in there (meaning they act out in a group, but wouldn't do it on their own), and forget about it. It's treacherous.
Where do these kids come from who bully other kids? Kids develop in different ways and are molded by their experiences and my kids are no different. If I ever catch wind of my kids being less than kind to any other kids, there will be severe consequences. But I do believe we, as parents, are the most responsible.
How we treat people is absolutely the main influence our kids learn from growing up. How my husband and I argue is important. How we communicate is important. If I were to speak ill of other kids or their parents, my kids would think that was OK, right? So they could do it too. We have to be really careful. We are being watched. We are responsible. There is a time and a place and a WAY to discuss others without it being full of hate and mocking.
We all believe our kids are awesome. We all love our kids. But the truth is, there are some kids out there who are modeling your bad behavior as an adult. I say that with the knowledge that I will be attacked for criticizing some of you. It's too important. I know my kids will encounter mean kids. I know we will deal with it together and do the best we can to get through it. But the truth is, I don't want my kids to pay the price for your bad behavior. And your kids shouldn't have to pay for mine either. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE.
I always try to give the benefit of the doubt and ask what if the shoe were on the other foot? I bite my tongue every single day. I don't feed into negativity any longer as much as I can help it online and in real life. I try my HARDEST to be positive. There is a time and a place to get angry and criticize, and you know what, this is one of those times.
We are all citizens of this planet. Be kind to each other. Model kindness to your kids. It's like paying into a bank account that will pay off for years and years.
Kindness is not a weakness. Kindness exhibits strength of character. ANYONE can be mean and quick to judge. Be better than that. Be kind. Be responsible. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR KIDS. Let's make their lives better. Let's model kindness for them, not snark and not tearing each other down. The stupid mommy wars can kiss my ass. I don't engage in that nonsense. I will continue to build you up and only surround myself with those who build me up as well. We can make this world a better place for our kids. We cannot protect them all the time and we cannot stop them from getting hurt. But we can do our best to be good citizens of the planet. To show them what that looks like.
I know most of you reading are on the same page with me. My hope is that maybe somebody out there will read my words and quietly think, "hey, I can do better." And really, can't we all do better? These are all our kids we are talking about here.
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