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19 June, 2013

Last night saw the culmination of more angst in the home. The problem with this angst is that it is in my girl’s heart. “My” problem with this is that her idea of an easy fix is to move back to her old school. “Her” problem, I think, will not be so easily solved.

So let me take you back a bit… Four years ago our middle boy was in grade 7 and was being bullied. We spoke to the school and they said they would address it. Nothing happened and his school work and morale suffered.

Friends of ours had moved their boy to another school, swore that he was now thriving in it and we could see that for ourselves as he began to excel in his new environment. After going back and forth with the teachers and staff we decided to take the middlest out of school and we moved him in the middle of the year feeling unsupported by a weak resolve.

The middlest went on to thrive and make some solid friendships in that school and so we decided that this school might offer the same opportunities to our younger two and we would consider moving them when they both reached high school.

Last year, almost daily, our daughter in grade 6 was constantly locking heads with one of the girls in her class. She was picked on, bullied, left out and she became a miserable kid. She cried nightly as we prayed and hugged goodnight. This helped us to make the decision to move them out of this ineffectual school which did nothing to support parents with kids in conflict.

We made arrangements to enroll them in their new school. Our youngest boy, as usual, was compliant. Our daughter, more reticent, hated saying goodbye to her friends. Of course her best friend was moving interstate at the same time and even if she had remained in the school we knew they would miss each other.

But we’d made the decision, committed to the decision by buying school uniforms and then the school text books. Our daughter repeated that she didn’t want to go to the new school over time but I hoped as she worked through term 1 that she would begin to make friends and enjoy the new environment.

Sure, she still missed her friends from her old school but she caught up with them in youth group each week (especially when we actually brought her there). However things didn’t improve with her shocked stories of 12 year old girls shaving their legs and arms and caking on “orange makeup”.

She started off going to school in her normal school skirt which just covered her knees. I brought her up to be a modest kid and she wore some short leggings under her skirt. As time wore on and winter drew in the tights came out and I noticed that her skirt was rolled up so it was higher than her knees.

She denied that she was being bullied, challenged or having the level of her skirt pointed out to her by her school mates. She never understood the need for the other girls to worry about vain things like shaving (she’s currently blessed with fair hair).

She doesn’t understand the need to go into the bathroom and cake their faces in orange makeup. She has even gone so far now as to ban makeup from her bedroom forever. When I asked her if I had an orange face when I put on make up she of course said no. Although I don’t wear make up as a norm anyway. Actually what she did say (and I was so proud of her) was that “God gave me this face, why would I need to cover it up.”

As I watch this girl grow into a young woman my heart swells. As I watch her transform from child to teenager I notice how the sunlight catches her hair and shines the most stunning copper highlights into her hair. I watch how in the middle of her fringe in the front is a chunk of hair that curls. I love that curl (she hates it).

I watch how she has such moral strength and deals with so much in her teen way of right and wrong, black and white, justice and injustice. She is stubborn. She will fight tooth and nail for her friends if they need help. Yet she yearns for something that seems to be missing.

She draws constantly, wears out pencils on a regular basis and is very much a people person, extremely intuitive and empathic. We get on really well and when hubby tears her down it cuts me in two.

Again I watch as her mood changes, subtle telltale signs that she’s not happy. She attacks quicker when someone says something to her at home. She retreats to her room more, she snuggles up with me and I can see a million painful conversations behind her eyes but don’t know how to get them out of her.

She’s begun to tell me again almost daily that she wants to go back to her old school. She’s begun crying again in her deep despair. I feel as if there is more going on at her new school that she is trying to shield me from and don’t know how to get it in the open.

This morning she told me she had a headache again. She had been complaining of a bad back. She’d had a week off work when I had some time off with a headache – she also had one.

When she had an argument with hubby she began to leave her dinner and not eat. This was a tactic I’d seen hubby do when he’d have a dummy spit. She’d say she would go to school hungry but break down in frustration when we asked her to let us know what to buy her (sandwiches are so yesterday) as she was unable to articulate what she wanted.

When I spoke with hubby about her troubled heart I’m not so sure he understood. He was adamant that she would not being going back to that “useless school”. He thinks talking with her school teachers will be enough. Maybe from the lack of help in our other school I don’t hold out much faith in this school – which I know is unfair.

Either way I don’t have the answer. All I have is a hurting daughter and as her heart breaks so does mine. I don’t want her to hide her pain from me either, to spare my pain. I want her to share it, to have someone just walk the walk with her.

I want to stop her pain and know that it will happen with time as she makes some solid friendships but there is a niggle of doubt. What if it won’t get better with time? What if she continues to fight the new regime? Shouldn’t she fight against some of the insecurities the other girls are showing? Does a 13 year old have the inner strength to be an example to her peers when it leaves one in a lonely place?

I don’t want her to conform to their standards. I don’t want her to think she’s only beautiful by slapping on makeup, drinking or sleeping around (something the girls have talked about). I don’t want her growing up into such an insecure woman that she can’t see her true worth and value.

I’m an oversensitive mum with no point of reference with this being my first girl to bring up through teenage hood.

Mumma bear in action


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