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To the Kids Bullying My Daughter: “She Can Be Annoying. I Know. I’m Her Mother.”

Dear kids who’ve been bullying my daughter,

She can be annoying. I know. I’m her mother. She doesn’t like to take no for an answer, voices her opinions loudly and likes to bend the rules in her favor at any chance. She’s likely to tell you her life story — whether you want to hear it or not. She wears outrageous clothes that don’t match, gets excited about small things (like playing outside at recess) and sings whenever possible. She wants so much to be your friend that she sometimes enters your personal space, begs to be allowed to join in a game and laughs too loudly to hide her disappointment when you — once again — say “no.” These things bug you. I get it.

To you, the fact that she screams with delight as the bell rings for lunch is a quirk that makes her different. To you, the fact that she will tell you about her latest crush is annoying; you would only tell your very best friend. To you, the fact that she cries in the corner when her feelings are hurt is yet one more thing she does to “get attention.” You smirk at her tears and run away, moving on to play a game of tag that you’ll never ask her to join.

I can guarantee, if the tables were turned and it was you crying in the corner, my daughter would be the first one there, holding your hand and asking what she can do to help, even though you called her “weird” the day before. If you fell down, she’d rush you to the nurse’s office, even though you purposely stomped on her foot in the hallway that morning. That’s because she has the kindest heart of any child I’ve ever met. She’s enthusiastic and joyful. She’s able to see the spark of bliss in small, everyday things and she’s not afraid to show her enthusiasm. Once you smile at her, she’ll likely consider you a friend for life. To me, these things make her awesome.

When you made that bar chart in computer class titled, “Who hates [my kid],” you thought it was funny, didn’t you? You and your friends had a good laugh over making the “hate” bar go higher and higher while the “like” bar remained a mere slit at the bottom. You probably didn’t even notice when my daughter’s eyes first registered what you’d done. You certainly didn’t feel the immediate stab of pain that pierced her heart, the lump that jumped into her throat, threatening to choke her. She was devastated, but she wouldn’t let you see that. She’s too brave.

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Remember that time you bribed her with a pen? It was a sunny day and she was heading out to the playground to run around. You intercepted her on the stairs and said, “If you promise to play somewhere else today and leave us alone, I’ll give you a fountain pen.” My daughter’s always wanted a fountain pen, especially a white one like the one you promised to bring her the next day, so she agreed. In fact, she arrived home that night all smiles about her imminent reward. What she hadn’t realized was that you were doing two things: paying her to go away, and making a promise you never intended to keep. My daughter learned a hard lesson that day, one that I hope she’ll never forget, and one I hope that you won’t have to learn in such a painful way — never sell yourself short. Stand up for yourself.

Shandley McMurray
Shandley McMurray
Shandley is a freelance writer whose works have been published in Chatelaine, InBetween, Time Out New York Kids, Parents Canada and Today’s Parent as well as sites like Planet Ware, University Health News, Travel Mindset, and AKA Mom. In her spare time, Shandley parents two adorable (and hilarious) kids with her husband and has written four books, including two for kids: On The Reef and Under Your Nose (Firefly Books). Visit her website to connect and learn more.

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