My daughter's backpack had just barely cleared the door of her bus when the tears began to fall. "B.* called me a baby because I like stuffed animals!" she sobbed. "And she got me in trouble again!" My 8-year-old used to get off the bus with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, but I haven't seen that smile much lately.
Instead I hear that she has a stomach ache and doesn't think she should go to school tomorrow. Instead I hear about B. B. who calls her names. B. who makes up lies about her. B. who excludes her on the playground.
B. is a bully. And I'm about to say something that will probably make you gasp.
I hate B.
I'm a 30-something professional with a husband and a mortgage, and I hate an 8-year-old. I don't hate her in the way that you hate having accidentally set the alarm for 6 a.m. on a Saturday when you could have slept in.
I loathe this 8-year-old for making my little girl cry. I despise her for taking away the light in my little girl's eyes.
Is it OK to hate a child?
I'm not sure. I've been working with the school to get my daughter some relief (and her teacher has been wonderful about the situation). I've talked to parents of other B. victims.
It's helped. Some.
But deep down, I am wrestling with the uncomfortable feeling that I really cannot forgive a child for hurting mine again and again and again over the course of three (!) years. After the latest bout of B. bullying, I was feeling particular angry ... and unsettled. I wanted to know -- am I alone? I put the following out on my Facebook wall:
Is it permissible to HATE an 8-Year-Old? (No, I don't mean my own ... I mean the one who makes mine cry every day). ARGH!
The answers came fast and furious. Parents shared their own stories of their children being bullied. Parents offered to grab their pitchforks and go after the little brat (metaphorically, of course). Parents agreed. Parents disagreed. Parents judged (gently).
All agreed they would be angry in my shoes, but a debate broke out over who that hate should be directed toward. Is it the bully or the bully's parents?
"It's probably more reasonable to hate the parents. But, yes, definitely permissible," said one dad.
"Sometimes kids with "good" parents who are trying to raise them right can still be little brats at times," a mom countered.
Still others put forth the notion that they're a package deal -- hate the kid AND the parents. Fair enough!
More From The Stir: Bullying & Your Kid: How to Fight Back
Some pondered about this child's home life. Should I go easy on her because she might not have it easy at home? Should I actually pity her?
I certainly don't wish a bad home life on a child -- if that's even the case here -- but it's hard to summon much pity for someone whose very existence gives your child nightly stomach aches. And quite frankly, my heart doesn't have the room. It's full to the brim with feelings for my own child, with trying to mend my daughter's broken heart.
Dealing with that bully's personal life, finding her the help she may or may not need, pitying her, loving her ... those are problems for the school and bully's parents, not those of the victims'.
We have to put our children first. And sometimes that means hardening our hearts to little kids who hurt our own.
Have you struggled with your feelings about a child who has hurt yours? What did you decide?
Image via MarylandGovPics/Flickr
*Name changed to protect the little shit who is making my daughter's life a living hell.