Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Oh how I wish this was true...
I think it must have felt like an arrow. An arrow straight into her heart. One that stung like she'd never been stung before. The words are STILL playing over and over and over in my head.
2 words. Seven letters. So much weight in two little words.
She came downstairs crying. I don't even know if I handled it correctly. We addressed it. Like good parents do. With both of them. It was over. We talked about how words hurt. The other girl was younger but I think she understood. I hope she listened to her Mom. She went home from the play date.
But NOW, the weight of those words rests on my shoulders.
What happens now. Does she let it go? Like, truly let it go? Do it play over and over in her head that she is...? Does her brain shut off at night? Does this ruin her self confidence forever? Will she always remember the first time someone actually had the courage to say these words to her face?
I have now, post-trauma, gone into Mama bear mode and now I'm outraged because I have no clue how to undo the damage it may or may not cause her. I'm instantly transported to my childhood when mean girls said mean things to be mean. I didn't like it then and damn it, I still don't like it now.
I haven't ever been overweight, so I wasn't the subject for ridicule with words like chubby, or fat *itch. I was short, small, Hispanic so they definitely found things to use, but words sting like the biggest bee and will definitely leave a mark far after the swelling has gone down. This I do remember as a 38 year old woman still traumatized by a few mean girls from high school. I know it won't ever be erased completely from her memory. That core memory we all learned about from Inside Out. Those are the ones that always stick.
My brain won't shut off. And I'm trying to figure out how to fix, because I am the parent and I can fix everything. But I don't think it is going to be quick or painless. But I will not give up and I will try everyday for the rest of my life if I have to.
I know she's beautiful, sweet, loving, kind, gentle, smart and perfect. But know the real work has begun. I HAVE to make HER believe it. I have to make her know and truly believe that she is everything that makes up a beautiful person and what ONE person says, will not define her. Self worth. Self love. Body image. My head is spinning with ideas but I all I want to do is shout, "You are amazing!!! In so many ways!" I want her to know that she is loved and surrounds herself with others that love her for who she is. The freedom of being accepted and the dialogue around a women's self-image needs to be shifted to accepting ourselves, as is, and that what truly matters is far beneath the surface. I hope she will someday understand, but I MUST start to work each day filling her head with the good stuff before the bad takes over. Now I'm on a mission.
Such deep concepts to teach to an eight year old in one afternoon. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. But I'm ready. I'm the one you want in your corner. We will not fight back with words. That's not our style. But don't worry. We got your back.
Marisa Langford is a Mom of 4 kids and lives in Tampa, FL. She blogs about life and everything in between at the award winning Tampa Mom Blog, TampaMama.com. Find here life in pictures on Instagram.
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