I mean, no one wants to be this parent:
Late afternoon, we picked up Ella and Ethan from daycare and loaded them into the car, as is our normal weekday routine. Only, the usual bubbly and playful car ride conversation was noticeably absent. Ethan was self-occupied, making random noises until he made one he liked enough to repeat 80 or so more times. Ella, on the other hand, was quiet. More than quiet...distant. Looking into the rear view mirror and attempting again to engage her, I asked her to lift her drooping head to look at me, and with sad and wounded eyes, she told me that she was not awesome. Huh?
I asked her to explain what she meant, and she then went on to tell me that she had approached a certain someone that day (let's just call him Guy) who has been a friend of hers for some time--and by the way, she talks about this friend A LOT, so it seems to reason that she has a certain affinity for this Guy-- and said to Guy, "Guy, do you like my pretty dress?" To which Guy, in front of a crowd of listening 4 year olds, said, "Ha! No! HaHa!" And then the whole crowd laughed and made my sweet little angel faced doll feel silly and ashamed. And at some point "not awesome" was a spear thrown at her tiny little vulnerable heart. How dare he!
How dare he be 4 and a boy and be put on the spot by my daughter in front of all of his friends and not like her dress or say the most amazing and perfect thing! I mean, really! D-bag!
I quickly made my best P-shaw face and snickered and said, "Well, Guy is a poop. And he must be crazy because you are definitely so pretty in that dress. I mean look at you, LOOK AT YOU, look at that smile! You are only the most amazing girl I know. What does he know?"
She beamed radiantly and said, "I love it when you say that, Mom."
Vern also made sure to tell her how pretty she was and that she needn't worry about Guy, and he tended to and mended all of the teeny tiny pieces of her little broken heart, but I think he was just amazed at this whole experience. "Shame," he said, "he really hurt her little heart. That makes me so mad." And then through gritted teeth, " I want to tell the little knucklehead to--"
I reminded him that this was only the start of peer problems, and that most likely in times to come she'll come home crying more because of girls than boys. And that it's okay because we'll coach our kids to be strong and confident, and we'll redirect as needed or intervene when appropriate...and also because d-bag is a word that is non-gender specific, really, (when used in this context) so we can still totally use it when we're calling them names in our heads.