My husband and I have always known the day would come when I would be summoned to the principal's office to hear about something our 5-year-old has done to get in trouble. In fact, it's been a kind of running joke among our friends and family pretty much since she could walk.
But I never imaged it would happen as early as preschool, and I never expected it would be for taking out her own personal bully. I also never dreamed I wouldn't care.
My daughter is the happiest, cuddliest little girl I know. But she's also always been a handful.
She's strong-willed, outspoken and completely unafraid of anything. She also kind of thinks she's a ninja. All of these traits are completely adorable and endearing (to us), but they're also loud, flashing signs that let us know what we're in for. And they're traits that will serve her well as she ventures out into a world that's not always kind or easy.
Turns out, my little ninja won't take crap from anyone, including pushy little boys on the playground. And yes, that's something I'm proud of.
As her teacher told me the reason my tiny little girl had spent the better half of her day with the principal, it was really hard to keep the smile off my face. A boy, one who is nearly twice her size and who has been nagging her since the very first day of school, had been at it again. The teachers saw him invading her space and doing his best to drive her crazy. And they pulled her aside and gave her a warning when she told him she was going to hit him if he didn't leave her alone. Nothing was done to get the little boy to actually give her the space she was asking for. If you ask me, they shouldn't have been surprised when she finally did hit him. She warned him, right?
After they filled me in on her "transgressions," they let me know I should talk to her with my husband, and strongly suggested she be punished at home.
Is it wrong that what I really wanted to do was give her a high-five and take her out for ice cream?
You see, this little ninja isn't my only child. She's my youngest, and she's a stark contrast to my older daughter, who is quiet, shy and timid. My oldest is only in the first grade, and already has dealt with her share of bullies at school. We've sat up countless nights and talked about why kids are mean, trying to give her the courage to deal with these children who just don't have it in them to be nice. But my daughter, she's too kind and concerned with being liked to ever do anything but bend over backwards trying to make these bullies her friends. It's painful for a mama to watch.
After a couple years of dealing with this, my younger daughter and her no-holds-barred self-preservation methods are a breath of fresh air.
I'm thrilled to know I can send this child to kindergarten next year and never worry about her falling victim to playground bullies. I'm happy to know that this little girl is strong and brave and will stand up for herself when it's needed.
I'm not condoning violence. By no means do I think it's OK for kids to start hitting when they don't get their way, and I did talk about this with my youngest. I also warned her that next year, in elementary school, the consequences for similar actions would be much worse.
But on the other hand, she addressed him with words first, and she was the one who was reprimanded by the teachers. I don't blame her one bit for being a normal 5-year-old and lashing out when all else failed.
I don't think this makes my kid a bully, and I don't have one single worry that she'll grow to be one. She's kind and caring, and a very good friend. She just doesn't have much tolerance for kids who don't have those same values, and I'm fine with that.
I've been the parent of the kid who does nothing and takes it, and the parent of the kid who takes nothing and defends herself. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd rather be the latter — even if does land me in the principal's office every now and then.
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