cradled in kindness

I was picking up loose papers one night when I came across it: an innocent calendar for some club and a sketch of a girl, complete with horns and a booger, hanging on the edge of her nose. I could still read the title, the girl's name. I shuddered.

She denied it was her handwriting. She denied she drew the picture. She may be telling the truth.

But it landed in my house; she erased the words. Lexi was party to making fun of a classmate.

I didn't freak out or call for an intervention. I know nine year-old girls can be cruel, but it still stung. She has always been kind, kinder than most.

She outed her friend as the one who drew the picture and justified it because this new girl was haughty and terrible. Thought she was better than everybody else.

I reminded her of her first day at her current school, when she transferred the week before Christmas. A small boy had poked her wrist with a pencil each day, because she was new. I found the holes in her white blouse first; she never would give up his name.

She lowered her head. She was ashamed. I never raised my voice, let her see how rattled I had become. I just asked her to consider how being cruel changes who you are, even when someone may deserve it. Could she understand that?

She squirmed in her chair. She tried to understand. I hope it sunk in because it is easy to jump on the mean girl express. I hope my words, my actions, sink in.

Stephanie and I went to see Lars and the Real Girl yesterday. The movie made me uncomfortable and at times, made me laugh as one might expect as the protagonist goes through his life with a anatomically correct, life-size doll.

But what stuck, stayed with me all night: the gentleness, kindness of strangers in the film. Sure, I imagine the fictional characters snickered privately at Lars's expense, but they showed him respect, gave him space to work through his delusion.

I wonder if a Real Boy Lars would be embraced in my town, cradled. Because I imagine we all know people on the fringe who could use a warm smile. Some encouragement.

I sat in my bed, after Greg had nodded off and wept for a bit; for the times I've been too quick to judge, and the times I've felt misunderstood.

I woke up puffy-eyed, a little raw.

My heart, stretched.


Anonymous said…
Lars (and, of course, the real Ryan Gosling whom I'm trying hard not to worship because that's weird) has been in my thoughts since last night. I can match parts of him to many of my students; it's unnerving and haunting.

I, too, hope I would do the right things and be the good person should I ever meet this kind of sadness & heartache.

Thanks again for coming with :)
flutter said…
This was wonderful of you, to show her that kindness counts
katydidnot said…
mean girls. i've been one. i'm sad to say. and i've been the target of them. both ways hurt. good for you for handling like a pro.
Suzanne said…
That movie was fantastic. I loved it.
This post just about made me cry. So beautifully written. Really cut me to the quick.

I was a kind girl, a victim of mean girls as a child. I hopped on that mean girl express once and it was so very horrible, I swore I would never do that again.

But I have. And like you, that's what has me on the edge of tears.
Dedee said…
I don't know what to say. I've been both. Painful.
Mrs. G. said…
Mean girl victim here as well. I think you handled this brilliantly. Yelling and carrying on never accomplishes much. It is good to remind our kids how it feels to be the victim of sucky behavior. I just applaud the fact that you didn't ignore know the old kids will be kids defense.

Can't wait to see Lars.
Beck said…
It's always ghastly to realize that our children have been cruel. I think you handled your situation very, very well.
JCK said…
This is a really raw post and I admire your courage for writing it and the honesty it took.

That is SO hard. I think you handled it beautifully.

I've heard great things about Ryan Gosling's performance. Ahhh...what I'd give to see a movie in a movie theater....
lapoflux said…
Good luck imparting the wisdom of the kind. I think it's so hard as a kid to not join in - you can just hope you teach them right??
Daisy said…
What a wonderfully insightful, wise and perfect response to the nasty letter Lexi took part in writing. I hope that I can remember that kind of response when my daughter does that to a classmate or worse, a friend.
Anonymous said…
Beautiful Lisa. Perfect time to get that book out, The girl with the 100 dresses.
K. said…
What a beautiful post, and I have to echo the sentiments of many here in saying that I don't think you could have possibly handled the situation with Lexi any more pefectly than you did.

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