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Other People’s Children

by Deborah Cruz

I’ve come to that point in parenting where my daughter looks at me like I don’t know anything.  In one way, I feel insulted because…hey, I know things. I have documentation and degrees that prove it so. But in other ways, I am in complete agreement with her.

Some of the stuff kids face today, I don’t know anything about (there was no Internet when I was their age…. thank God) but mostly it’s the same shit, different decade.

Hey, little girl, I’ve been where you are. It’s been awhile but some things you don’t forget. The tween and teen years are like bad shoes, they leave a scar and you don’t soon forget the trauma they’ve caused and if you do, just take a look at that scar.

And so we’ve come to this point in parenting where, I’m not sure I much like other people’s children.

Oh, no, I’m not talking about your child. I’m sure that your child is (all caps) AMAZE-BALLS (wait does anyone even say that anymore? Probably not. Scratch that.) Your kid’s probably awesome. But the rest of these kids, I’m going to be honest, they are straight up assholes 97% of the time. I know this because I did a study. I’ve been researching for the past 12 years and yep, kids are dicks.

My girls have always been pretty friendly but, even if they hate to admit it, their best friend is each other. This is exactly as I was raised and exactly as I planned. Brothers and sisters are the first friends that you can never get rid of. No matter what stupid shit they do, you have to have one another’s backs. #builtInBestie

The thing is it’s been that way for as long as they’ve been alive. They’ve had friends at school but even when their clique was small, no matter, they had one another. I saw this happening and tried to redirect the direction but I watched them segregate themselves with their inside jokes and shared experiences from their classmates. It wasn’t a bad thing but I felt maybe some variety might not be terrible. After all, there is just the 2 of them.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed them making more friends outside of the friends they share and themselves. Honestly, I’ve taught them to take in the broken-winged birds because I feel like they are lucky to have one another so if you see someone who is alone, go be nice to them. I also teach them, and if you are a long time reader of The TRUTH you already know this, you can’t control how people react to what you do. You can only control how you behave and what you put into the world so put good out there. But that’s it. You can’t make someone appreciative or make someone care. You can just do good, do you and the rest is between them and God. That’s also where I insert the reason why we don’t judge. Not our business. Let people be happy.

But not everyone is like that. My girls are perfectly content with each other on most days but they have made these other friendships. It’s hard to make the jump from a sister to a friend. You expect that same loyalty and love and it is not a given. Not ever.

I see my daughters placing trust in others and it’s like watching your toddler walking towards a cliff. You want to stop them. You can see the train wreck coming from a mile away but you won’t always be there to save them so you have to let them learn. You can try to guide them with your wisdom*ahem* but I can tell you from recent experience, it doesn’t always take. It almost never does.

This happens all through parenting and it always shocks me and I find myself wanting to push other people’s kids down flights of stairs because, you toucha my kid (even metaphorically) I breaka yo face. (Remember those stupid signs from childhood road trips? I’m sure they are somehow not PC. No? Get off my grass.)

Anyways, Houston we have a situation. First let me start by pointing out the fact that tween girls love nothing more than the sound of their own voice, except for drama and attention from other tween girls. Everything is so BIG!

I feel like it’s my job to teach my daughters some of life’s greatest clichés like “Beauty is pain” (been drilling that in since birth) and “rise above”, “Kill ‘em with kindness.” But all that shit is easier said than done, especially when your tween is crying because some “friend” is “being mean.”

Remember when I said earlier that I do know some shit? I do. Because I’ve been the kid who got her feelings hurt and I’ve definitely been the bully (to my little brothers and sisters for sure) and I may have even had my moments as a mean girl in college. The point is that I.HAVE.BEEN.THERE! Right where they are.

This kid, my daughter’s “friend”, this is her third strike and like baseball, when you strike out three times in my eyes…fail me thrice and b*tch, you are out. This kid loves drama, she thrives in it and if it doesn’t exist, she will create it via 3-way calls, text sharing and good old-fashioned lying behind people’s backs. She’s pretty good at it but girl, I’ve got your number.

She broke my daughter’s heart for the first time, last spring, then again this summer and now, again yesterday. It’s like a damn ballet blister that tries to heal but she keeps picking at it and pulling at it until it bleeds. Well, I’m done watching my kid bleed. F*ck that cliff. Mama’s about to be a parachute and we are going to jump off that cliff. Make that cliff our bitch.

This kid likes to talk a lot of shit about everyone. She gets some kind of weird pleasure from dangling people on strings. Snip.Snip. NOPE.

My kid got hurt and if you think mama bears are just for toddlers, you were sadly mistaken. I won’t go all into the details but let’s just say that if you can’t trust your friends, what’s the point? If your friends don’t have your back and they enjoy hurting you, why bother? A friend is someone who loves, supports and cares for you and in return, you do the same. As my daughters were taught in preschool, to have a good friend you’ve got to be a good friend. I believe this. Of course, if my kid’s being a good friend and you are being an asshole, you are a waste of time and vice versa. All friendships are not meant to last forever. You move on not drag it out and try to punish the other person for caring about you.

I’m trying to teach my daughter that the best reaction to an attention and drama seeking bully is to ignore her. Of course, when you are a kid your first natural instinct is to cry and try to hurt them as much as they hurt you. The thing is you can’t fight fire with fire when you’re fighting with the devil.

My daughter was so annoyed because how dare I tell her not to respond when she was so clearly insulted and attacked. So, I told her to give it a couple of days. This angered her even more. She insists that I am trying to protect the other child when in fact, I am trying to protect her. We’ve all been there when our emotions have gotten the better of us and we say things we wish we hadn’t said and we let the other person get the upper hand by seeing us distraught and crying. Then they know….they won.  I’m looking at you every ex-boyfriend ever.

I insisted that she ignore her for a couple days. That drives attention seekers insane. And then in a couple days, if you want to end the friendship, by all means tell her you don’t want to be her friend.

The thing is I don’t care about this other kid. She’s not my problem. She is a hair away from being pushed down a flight of stairs if she hurts my kid again. Just kidding, I don’t advocate violence against children. I just want my kid to keep her composure when she is bringing down the hammer. Shatter her. She’s earned it. But don’t let her see you sweat. Smile and pretend it doesn’t matter to you at all.

What would you tell your daughter in this situation? I’m new to this age and these situations. I know I can’t be there to protect her forever but I feel like I need to be there to support her and keep her from getting completely destroyed if I can guide her in any way.

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