When I was a young, I was never what you would consider a popular girl. I wrestled with several social issues. As a child, I was taunted for being Asian. I was called every stereotypical ethnic slur that you could think of. I was a rather chubby child until I reached high school, so that gave the mean kids in my school more ammunition to use against me. When I reached high school my body changed, but unfortunately most of these people remained the same. Like many schools, ours had its fair share of cliques. I was often disliked or dismissed because I was not a part of any of these groups. High school was not a fun time for me.
Our daughter is an only child. I have tried to expose her to other children as often as possible for her to understand the importance of socialization, sharing & patience. Along with daycare, we have play dates, assorted classes & playgroups to assist with these. Much to my heartbreak, I have witnessed that exclusion, cruelty and bullying are not just reserved for teens.
Recently, my child was playing with an older group of already established friends. She approached them with her usual cheerful spirit & energy, filled with excitement to meet each & every one of them. As she was introducing herself, the foursome turned and walked away, leaving her standing there alone. I felt a stab in my heart as my sweet girl watched them walk away. Luckily being a resilient toddler, she quickly moved on to independent play. I was more wounded by this interaction than she was.
It made me look ahead. It made me scared for the future. It is a certainty that through the years that she will feel the pain of hurt feelings, exclusion and children’s cruelty. With any luck she will keep her resilience. She will understand that the opinions of others do not define her. My wish is that she never tries to conform to be accepted by others. As time goes on and she encounters this more and more, I hope that she keeps her same gentle spirit, that she does not give in to the taunting of others and that she is always true to herself. In the meantime, I will do my part to try to instill these values in her & pray that her adolescent pain is kept to a minimum.