Welcome to the October edition of Life Love Lens. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my fellow photographers through this blog circle. I know I’ve said this before, but I am honored to be part of this group…these ladies are all so talented! Please be sure to click all the links and visit each photographer within the circle (link will be at the end of this post). You’ll have the opportunity to see some amazing photography. Leave them some love while you’re at it! Back in September, I promised myself I would post something "different" for October blog circle. I realize 99% of my blog circle posts are all about Violet. Not that there is anything wrong with that!! Violet is my favorite subject to photograph after all, and the main reason I participate in this circle is to share personal work. But lately, I have been feeling like I want to show a little variety. I've been wanting to tackle some new things, like food photography or macro. These were the ideas that I was toying with for October blog circle. Well, those ideas are going to have to wait until next month. Because I’ve had a rough week as a mom, and I need to post some beautiful and happy pictures of my baby today.
The other day, I experienced something at Violet’s preschool that crushed me. I saw my baby get bullied. I’m sure some people think I’m over-reacting by using the word “bully.” That word hadn't actually entered my mind until I talked to a few people and they kept saying it. I just knew some kids were being really mean to my girl. I thought, is there such a thing as a 4-year-old bully? The answer is yes, unfortunately. Now that I’ve done some research on the subject (here is a really good article on parenting.com), I found that bullying can and does happen as early as pre-school. It’s different from typical play-based “conflict” (fighting over a toy, etc... which is to be expected at this age). It's intentionally mean behavior. Intentionally hurting someone...just for the sake of hurting them. It can be physical or verbal...in this case it was the latter.
This group of three girls basically shunned Violet (“here comes Violet, we don’t want to play with HER!!!”), all the while smiling, giggling, repeating their mean words, and visibly enjoying every second. I don't think I've ever actually used the word "shunned" in a sentence before...but I can't think of a better way to describe it! For some reason, these three, adorable, little girls who were playing together on the rug decided to single my child out and hurt her. Violet did nothing to provoke this rejection. She had not asked to play with these girls. She hadn’t even looked at them. She had simply walked by. These comments stopped my baby in her tracks, and I don't think I've ever seen her face so sad, confused, hurt.
I mean...who could be mean to this face?
Violet has mentioned these girls to me before….i.e., so-and-so “doesn’t want to be my friend” or “won’t play with me.” I figured it was just a situation of “kids being kids” and was not overly concerned. I always tell her not to waste time or energy on people who don’t want to be her friend. You don't have to be best friends with everyone...there are other fish in the sea. And if people are mean to you….just walk away. But I had no idea how mean these girls could be, until I witnessed it with my own eyes and with my own heart. I learned that day that mean girl cliques are not just for teens anymore. It starts in pre-school. Sigh.
On a positive note, I guess all my pep-talks with Violet had resonated. I was so proud when she turned to face these girls with a scowl on her face and said strongly, “I don’t want to play with you ANYWAY” and walked away. I wanted to follow up with “Yeah!!! Take that you little $#%^&s!!” but I refrained. I was actually on the verge of tears (which came later as I was leaving the school), but my baby handled the situation flawlessly.
"And though she be but little, she is FIERCE." - Shakespeare
I’m not claiming that my kid always behaves perfectly. She can be sassy and stubborn at times, and we deal with the typical toddler issues. I have seen her be mean, on occasion, but it did not seem calculated to me. It seemed more like an outburst when she didn’t know how to deal with her emotions (usually when she doesn’t get her way, or if she's woken up too soon from a poorly timed nap). Generally, she is super outgoing, sweet, loving and wants to be everyone’s friend. She’s the kid that introduces herself to any other kid within a 50 foot radius. She’s the kid that hugs other kids "just because" and openly tells them “I love you”… probably a little too soon. A lot of kids her age are usually taken aback because, honestly, she comes on a little strong. As a parent, it’s bittersweet for me to watch because, while I love how openly affectionate and expressive she is, I fear the rejection and heartache that will inevitably come when others are not receptive to it. Maybe that’s why these girls decided they didn’t want to be her friend.
I guess the reason behind their behavior is irrelevant, and I should take the same advice I give to Violet, which is...don't worry about them. I just have to keep building her up at home and continue to teach her to be the bigger person. I’m now having a lot of conversations with Violet about bullying. We've always had conversations about being kind and respectful, but I don't think I had uttered the word "bully" until this week (which I'm now learning is not even considered PC anymore...learning so much this week!). We're not only talking about what to do when someone is mean to HER, but what to do when she see OTHERS being bullied. Stand up for yourself when people are mean to you, but you also need to stand up for others who need a friend.
"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." - Maya Angelou
"Choose people who lift you up." - Michelle Obama
"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine." - Lord Byron
Sweet, kind, beautiful, strong, creative, smart, funny, fearless. Violet.
“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.” - Mandy Hale
"Don't be afraid of being different. Be afraid of being the same as everyone else." - Unknown
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." - the Dalai Lama
I shot all of the above images just last weekend when I had a last-minute client cancellation....prior to the incident at school. I feel like these images were meant to tell this story, although I didn't know it at the time. I know this is kind of a downer topic for blog circle, but it's something I've been dealing with this week, and it was helpful to write about it. I'm hopeful that the situation improves. I know Violet's teacher has been working with the girls, and there has been progress in getting the girls to play nicely together, so hopefully we will nip this in the bud. And on a positive note, I know my girl knows how to handle herself and isn't going to take crap from anyone! I take great comfort in that. And I might have taught her to say "talk to the hand cuz the wrist ain't listening." She then started talking into my wrist. I should probably let her come up with her own comebacks.
Well, thank you so much for visiting. I am always very appreciative to have eyeballs looking at my blog. :) Now, please take your eyeballs over to the very talented Rachel Coney's blog to see the beautiful images she is sharing this month. xo ~ denise