This is how my children learned sometimes someone tells you they are your friend, but really, the bully wears sheep’s clothing.
We moved about three months ago and my children were thrilled to discover there was a little girl next to us that was right between their ages.
It was a non-stop friendship from the early morning to the late evening.
Then it happened.
It was discreet and my children didn’t recognize it.
They only knew their feelings were hurt.
We have discussed bullies and the media has saturated us with the adverse impact it has on young children and adults.
But this kiddo was good.
It began when a third child entered the picture.
My youngest came home crying because “they can only play with one person at a time.”
This wasn’t true as for weeks they had ALL been playing together.
My kiddos would be out in the yard and the little girl would taunt them about what they were doing.
Then she began coming to our house to play.
It was what she had been doing.
But this time, as my children got their shoes on and headed out the door, she would say, “I can’t play with you.”
My seven-year-old was the first to recognize the bullying–it happened when all the children were outside.
My kiddos in our yard, she in hers.
My son was tossing a ball up in the air and catching it.
The neighbor girl told him to stop. he ignored her.
It continued for a few minutes and then the little girl marched over and said, “I told you to stop throwing that ball in the air. If you don’t stop I won’t be your friend.”
My seven-year-old stepped between her brother and the neighbor girl and said, “You are NOT his friend. A friend would have asked if they could throw the ball to each other. A friend would have said, you’re good at catching”.”
The neighbor girl said, “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble, just your brother.”
My daughter said, “My brother is not in trouble. He didn’t do anything to you or anybody. Go back to your yard and mind your own business.”
At dinner that night we talked about how bullies sometimes aren’t like they are shown on TV.
Sometimes they look like our friends.
Sometimes we want to be accepted so bad that we forfeit our role as a leader and make the decision to follow or accept what they tell us about ourselves so we will be loved. We all want friends.
Sometimes it’s not those who pretend to be your friend.
Sometimes parents bully at the bus stop.
It was a great opportunity to recognize my daughter for realizing what was happening and being brave enough to stand up for what is right.
My husband is a helicopter parent and it took a lot for me to convince him to stand back and let them realize this valuable lesson on their own.
It’s everyone’s social responsibility to recognize the wolves in sheep clothing.