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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Important Life Lessons OR What a 7 Year Old Can Teach YOU

Recently my 7 year old daughter came to me and said that everyone in her class hated her.  Try to follow along because it's an arduous journey of 7 year old reasoning here.  They hate her.  Therefore her name has to be changed.  Also there's a girl in her class who wants to be her friend but Cressy doesn't want to be her friend because you can only have one friend and the girl is ugly.  Of course, Cressy did say that she knew that was a mean thing to say but it had to be said.  Then there was something about one girl who told her that she couldn't be friends with any other girls.

Let's see.  How to wade through the quagmire?  First, I have to look up the meaning of the word 'quagmire.'  (It can mean swampy or it can mean a precarious position where disengagement is difficult.  Wow.  I like that.)  Back to the quagmire.

Okay, I have to say that whilst I was listening to my daughter, her father, HIM, the man to whom I am married and probably will always be married, was sitting in the background with a certain look on his face.  The best description of the look is akin to a wild animal who is crossing a road and suddenly realizes that a car is racing toward him and will most likely smoosh him into little bits of blood and guts.  The animal looks into the headlights and freezes because he doesn't know what else to do.  That's HIM.  Caught in the headlights.  But behind the big eyes was the fleeting thought, 'If I don't move or make any noise, they will forget I'm here.'

Note the expression of dismay.  Behind these eyes is an exotic, well-laid plan
of escaping to a third world country where HIM can live on the beach
and drink pina coladas.
The alternative, you see, would be the following:
Whoops.  Wrong picture.  I'm still laughing about that.  This is my sister's cat who got smeared in the last blog.  (Hint about the quote reference: for those of you under 40, it's a movie called Hellraiser.  Lots of gore, guts, stuff.  It's kind of like parenthood except you get to eat highly buttered popcorn while you're watching everything around you explode.)

Here we go.  This is what would happen if I hadn't been in the house when Cressy decided to offload childhood baggage:
HIM dispensing sage parental advice to our only child.
However, it was me who had to right wrongs, to balance her innate sense of unfairness, and to let her know that she was still okay.

Here's what I had to say.  1.  Your classmates don't hate you.  2.  Treat other people the way you want to be treated.  3.  Judging someone by the way they look is wrong.  4.  If someone doesn't want to be your friend then it's their loss.  5.  Other people don't have the right to tell you who you can and can't be friends with.  6.  If you want to change your name that's fine, but it's not going to change who you are.  (And I didn't even have to break out the rule book to spout these fine witticisms.)

All of these were taken with sincere aplomb.  "Good ideas, Mommy," Cressy said thoughtfully.  "I concur with your adept psychological and sociological adeptness at gauging the situation."  (Not really.  She just nodded a lot.)

Then came the killer statement that was not unlike a bomb being dropped on an Asian island in WWII.  She announced with unerring accuracy, "This is just like when people don't like Bubba, Mommy."  (My daughter is referring to one of the books I've written, Bubba and the Dead Woman, and my recent negative response to critical reviews, which apparently I've broadcasted a little too loudly.)

I looked up at HIM, but HIM was trying to count the bumps in the popcorn ceiling with amazing determinedness.  That ceiling certainly was awe-inspiring.

Only seven years old and she says that.  (What I was thinking was, 'How much was I talking about the reviews of Bubba?' and 'I thought she really wasn't listening.'  Both of which shows me, doesn't it?)

So what could I say?  "Yes, dear, this is like that.  Sticks and stones."

Cressy: "Sticks and stones?"

Me: "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you."  (Unless you let them hurt you.)

Cressy, scoffing: "I wouldn't hit anyone with a stick or a stone."

Then she watched The Smurfs and life was pretty much okay again.  Interesting about life's little lessons, isn't it?

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