Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Passing Notes

Every day, I pack Lucy's lunch for school
And when I pack her lunch, I also write her a note
Just a quick little pick me up note for her to read whilst she eats her lunch
Usually just a few lines (we love you, have fun, be the reason someone smiles today, do your best, don't be a jerk and be proud of who you are) signed Love Mum and Dad, a smiley face, a heart and hugs and kisses (😀❤️xxoo)
I've done this every day since first grade, twice a week in kindergarten
Even when I have traveled for work, I leave notes behind for Sean to put in her lunch box
And when I've forgotten, Sean's remembered
And when Sean's forgotten, she lets us both know about it that night
Lucy has saved all these notes
We know this because one time, we came across a shoe box overflowing with the notes
Some notes were soaked with water stains and the words were blurred or faded
Other notes bore dried remnants of her lunch
But they were all there
Occasionally, I catch her flipping through the notes
She just smiles when I catch her eye and gives me a wink
When I came home from work tonight, we sat at the table talking about her day
Lucy informed me with a trembling lip, tears in her eyes, flushed cheeks and a cracking voice, she does not want me to write notes for her anymore
Honey what happened
I reached over and put my hand on her arm
Sean was in the kitchen busying himself at the sink as Lucy had already told him what happened
A tear slid down her face
X and Y make fun of me!
They make fun of the notes you leave me
And then they try to take it and read it
And today, he got it! X got it!
He took it from me, made fun of it, made fun of me and then ripped my notes!
But I grabbed it from him.....
She trailed off not able to finish …she was gutted
I was gutted
I felt the air leave my lungs and then the room
Lucy fought back tears while I fought to control my temper
I blurted out something I immediately regretted
Sean said my name sharply and gave me a warning shake of his head
I am not even sure Lucy heard me but I should not have said what I said
Lucy then proceeded to repeat some things X and Y have said to her of late
They ranged in everything from X telling Lucy her lunch is not healthy to her clothes are stupid to making fun of the notes in her lunch box
X does most of the talking and taunting, Y seems to be along for the ride
Then the flood gates opened and she told us there was another kid, an older student, who was also making fun of her notes
Is that from your Mommy? She imitated his taunting her in that sing songy teasing voice we all remember the class bully using
And you know what else Mumma?
I was not sure my heart could take anymore
These two girls told me I was gross and disgusting
That I have a big nose and big lips
And that my clothes are awful!
I HATE Linscott Mumma!
I don’t want to go there anymore
Shit got real right there people
I mean Lucy LOVES school
Specifically, she LOVES this school
The tears were flowing and her chest was heaving as she struggled to control the sobbing
I started to say something but she darted into the living room and collapsed on the couch
Her face hidden
I looked over to Sean
I hate that her innocence is being taken away he said
I remember this happening to me when I was her age he said
I know, I said, we all do
I sighed fighting back tears and anger
I called Lucy back to the table
She came reluctantly
Honey, I can stop writing the notes….if that will help….
But I like my notes Mumma!
It’s how I know you and Daddy are thinking about me during the day
What can I do honey? What can Daddy and I do?
She shrugged
I just don’t understand why they keep picking on me, why everyone hates me?!
Honey, I don’t understand why you keep sitting with X and Y at lunch?
Lucy looked at me unable to answer
Luce this is not the first time this has happened with X
I know Mumma
Then why kiddo? Why do you keep trying?
Because I’m the only one without a best friend!
I don’t even think I really have any friends!
I don’t even k now if any of us know how to be friends…....
She trailed off
Dinner was ready and I think all three of us were emotionally drained
As she ate dinner, I sat with her and we chatted about the rest of her day:
She loves her teacher, is looking forward to seeing Mrs J the adjustment counselor tomorrow (I am totally telling her about this incident Mum!) and she still misses her 1st and 2nd grade teachers but she hugs them when she sees them
Yeah kiddo?
I don’t want to leave Linscott
I know honey
Besides, another school may not have a Walk-a-Thon
But Mumma
Will it always be like this? Will I always feel like this? Will I always get picked on?
*sigh* No Pal, it won’t always be like this….but it may be for awhile
Well, at least I have you and Daddy….and my notes!
Indeed you do kiddo
The rest of the evening progressed as it normally does
When I was putting Lucy to bed, she asked me when I found my best friends
Well, in high school I had a friend I was quite close with
And then in college I made some good friends but you know what kiddo, I made my dearest friends as an adult – when I moved away and was living on my own
And I’ve made some really good friends as a Mum….you know, other moms
But you know what Lucy? I don’t really think I have a best friend - but I have some really good friends who I know will take care of me when I need them to….who will make me laugh when I need to laugh and let me cry when I need to cry
Like A and Mrs H?
And P?
Especially P
J is a good friend to me Mumma, he is one of the kindest people I know
He is kiddo
And he has been in my life forever
Pretty close I say
H is really kind too, but I think everyone would say he is too old to be my friend but when I get older, I feel like we could be good friends
I bet you could pal ….
She snuggled deeper under the covers
Mumma, I love my notes, I just don’t want anyone to read them
So, we decided we would create a secret language, a coded language, that only we would know and from now on, I would write the notes in our invented jibber jabberish code so even if X and Y and kid #3 get the notes, they’ll have no idea what it says!
After Lucy fell asleep, Sean and I sat at the kitchen table trying to understand how we should be navigating these white waters of parenthood
Days like today make us question what we’re doing wrong….and right for that matter
Look, here’s the thing, we know Lucy has her own struggles and challenges
We know Lucy is loud and according to some accounts obnoxious
She does not always know when to quit and sometimes, she has an attitude the size of Texas
She can be competitive and bossy and gets pissed when someone does not follow the rules…and she tells them in a tone that can come off as bossy and mean…
And she has a fantastic temper – she’ll bite your head off if she thinks you are trying to take her place in line or that you are trying to get something before she does
Also, she rolls her eyes and slams doors like they are Olympic events – and she would bring home the gold in both
And we’re working on all those things with her – at home, at school with her teachers and adjustment counselor and her therapist
We’re working hard on those things
And Lucy is completely self-aware and knows these are things she needs to work on…and she owns that
She doesn’t always like to but, she owns it
So do we
But here’s the thing about Lucy – for all her “faults,” she is not a mean kid
She is actually quite empathetic and really quite sweet
It is rare Lucy makes fun of someone or mocks them
She just does not have that mean girls streak in her
Sure, she’s reactive and if you go after her, she’ll come out fighting but she’s a good kid
One time, in 2nd grade, Lucy said something mean to a classmate - completely unprovoked and for no good reason
When her teacher called, and told me what happened, the teacher said it was so out of character for Lucy that for a split second, she was not sure what had happened or that it was in fact Lucy who had said it
Her teacher then proceeded to tell me Lucy was so upset about what she had done she herself could not bear to punish Lucy anymore
That night, Lucy told us about what happened before we even asked (Lucy has always, since she was a tiny kid, told on herself!)
She then sat down, on her own, and wrote the other child an apology note along with one to her teacher
Lucy knows herself
And she knows she’s not everyone’s cup of tea
She knows that right now, she may not have a best friend, or many friends, but she has her Mum and Dad
And our unconditional love and support
And sometimes, that’s all you need ….
Unconditional love and support….. and a secret language

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