It's happening again.
Today, my Wee Three came home from junior kindergarten, fell into my arms, and began to sob.
Not the kind of weeping indulged in by an overstimulated, overtired child. This was the kind of crying that emits straight from a little person's heart, when that heart has been trodden on and squelched.
"I... had... a BAAAAD DAAAAY!!!" she hic-coughed, when she could catch enough breath to form words.
I immediately scooped her up in my arms, and carried her over to the couch, where we snuggled down together under an afghan, so that she could tell me all about it.
Wee Three is one of the littlest people in her class... and truth be told, I had serious, serious trepidations about putting her in public school this year. Although she was "of age" by September, I wasn't entirely convinced that she was emotionally ready to deal with a large, boisterous classroom with less adult-to-child supervision, after her two blissful years at a wonderful nursery school. I was deeply concerned that junior kindergarten would be too dramatic a change for her, and that she would be put-off of "big school" from the get-go.
My feelings changed, however, when she was awarded a placement in the same class as her best little friend in the whole-wide-world... the daughter of one of my own most cherished friends. As mothers, we agreed that our girls having one another for support would be a boon for them both-- they are emotionally bonded enough to be like sisters to one another, and yet, in larger social situations, the two of them easily form new friendships, and include other children in their play.
We have had a few days this school year when one or the other of them has been ill, and had to remain at home. The "at-school" child has fared pretty well alone, and so I didn't have any major qualms about my Wee One this week... For this is the week that her special friend has taken an extended Christmas vacation, and flown off to her Grandma and Grandpa's house for the holidays.
Monday went pretty well. Yesterday, too.
But today, not so much.
Today, my daughter had her first real experience with bullying. And for the first time, there was no-one there who "had her back", so to speak.
One little ringleader apparently formed a "club" at playtime, and included every female member of the class. Invited them to join, even. But when MY little one asked to play, too, she was refused. Not only that, the other children in the "club" were instructed by the ringleader that they were not to play with Wee Three.
These children are THREE, FOUR and FIVE YEARS OLD.
It's starting even younger than it did with Child Number One, who was in second grade before any of this organized nastiness first reared its ugly head...
And I have learned a lot since then.
I have learned that parents MUST be pro-active when it comes to bullying. We must not stand idly by, and hope it will "blow over". We must not accept teachers' misguided reassurances that little girls are by nature "changeable" creatures, and that "tomorrow, everyone will be friends again".
Tomorrow, I am going to approach the ringleader's mother in the school playground. And I will relay my daughter's experience. If necessary, I will include the teacher and the children in a discussion. Because I'm going to nip this in the bud-- NOW-- in a firm, calm, respectful manner.
And I'm going to show my little girl that it is okay to speak up when she is deliberately and maliciously excluded from a group. Okay to value herself enough to be assertive.
It is more than okay.
It is essential.