Author: Rebecca Hyde
My babies start school this week. How is it I now have a 2nd grader and a 6th grader? It seems like only yesterday I was holding their tiny precious bodies in my arms, singing to them, gently rubbing their foreheads and noses until they fell asleep. Now it’s a constant barrage of “no, you can’t wear that outside the house,” “no you can’t feed the dog your dinner because you don’t like it,” “no, you can’t scare your sister,” and “yes you have to bathe daily to stay ahead of the funk”.
We are going to the school today to drop off school supplies, and I will meet the teachers responsible for my precious babies eight hours a day. I know I will eye their teacher with scrutiny, guess their age, and probably even ask 100 questions. I’ll look around the school and take note of safety precautions put in place, but not for Covid-19; it’s the least of my worries as I send my children out into the world and to get an education.
Each morning as I enter the car rider line, I have one main concern, although I have many worries. Will my children be bullied today and fight to try and maintain their self-esteem? Will my beautiful daughters come home fully believing they are fat, ugly, or stupid? Will they be crying, mad, or confused? So many worries as a mama. When did parents stop teaching their children not to be hateful? Where did love and understanding go? When and how did we get here? My heart hurts, and I want to shield them from this hateful and hurtful world. I’m raising strong daughters, but strength only goes so far when you’re constantly worn down.
A hundred years ago, when I was in school, our biggest worry was getting in trouble for chewing gum or eating on the bus. We may have forgotten a homework assignment or lose the combination to our locker. If we were lucky, there would be an interesting fight on the playground, which was the extent of the drama. Of course, you still had the bullying, but it’s gotten way out of hand these days. Kids can be cruel and social media is brutal.
My twelve-year-old is just dipping her toe into the world of social media. I see and hear things that blow my mind. I want to remove all social media from her world and protect her as much as I can, snatch her phone from her and never let her have it back! However, I can’t do that. It’s a fine line we walk as parents. Do we protect and shelter them, hoping they can handle the world when they eventually leave the nest? Do we put our own blinders on and pretend this new wave of social interaction doesn’t exist? Or do we let them ease in while they are still home, in a loving, nurturing environment where we can guide them in maneuvering the harshness of the world?
Bullying scares me. I read the articles. I watch the news. I know how a few cruel comments can crush a kid. I’ve seen children virtually gang up on those they consider to be “weak.” How can I combat that as a parent? How do I protect my child without suffocating? How can I ensure they aren’t being bullied? They may or may not tell me. Why in the hell didn’t parenting come with a book? One that could be called, “What to Expect During the First Eighteen Years?”. So many questions and not enough answers.
At the end of the day, there is no book. There’s no instruction manual and no right or wrong way. Each child is different, and as the times change, we must also bob and weave. I’m no expert at parenting. I’m an “F-BOMB” mom and probably yell a little too much sometimes. But God, I love these human beings. In my not-so-expert opinion, the best thing we can do to combat the cruelness in the world is to simply love them. Show an interest in them and KNOW what they are doing, where they are going, and who they talk to, even on social media. Be nosy. It might make them mad, but one day they’ll respect you for it. Well, maybe not, but at least you’ll know what’s going on, and you might save your child’s self-esteem. Your love and nosiness might even save their lives.