Dear Mean Girl…

Dear Mean Girl at Dance Class,

I saw you. I saw you parade out of class right after my daughter the other day. Your brown curls bobbing and excitement on your face. You looked like just another one of our adorable little dancers. As I helped my 5 year old put on her street clothes, you kept circling us. Then I heard you speak.

“Those shoes are UGLY,” you exclaimed.

Say what? Thinking I didn’t hear you correctly, I ignored it and focused in on getting my daughter changed. Then it came again.

“Why are you wearing those shoes? They are so ugly!”

This time, I looked up in sheer surprise, because surely that wasn’t what you were saying. You had to be barely 4 years old. I gave you a pointed look and went back to my business. Then again, only this time it was different.

“Mom, did you see her shoes??!!” “They are so UGLY!”. But now it was directed to your momma.

Then I looked up and saw your mom. I exchanged knowing looks with her with only that understanding that like-hearted moms have. Waiting, pleading with her to say something to you. Then she put her hand on your little shoulder and spoke.

“Honey, we don’t say things like that where people can hear them. Let’s go.”

Ummmm, come again? Say what? Did I forget to use a q-tip this morning and thoroughly clean out my ears? Cause I know you didn’t just say that. Come.on.

But your mom did. And I thank my lucky stars that my little one was so focused on sharing with me her excitement on learning a “plie” and mastering 1st, 2nd, and 3rd position that she was completely oblivious to the commentary happening right beside her. But I wasn’t.

And so in all actuality, little mean girl, this letter should be addressed to your mom. So let’s start with a new title, shall we?

Dear Mean Mom at Dance Class,

I saw you. I saw you come up beside your daughter when she was saying those most unkind words to MY daughter. And I thought I had an ally. I thought you would drop the hammer. Lord knows I have on many occasion should I find my little girl out of line. But you didn’t. You were HER ally. Which understandably I get. She’s your daughter. But what I don’t get is YOUR WORDS.

You told your impressionable little girl, the one who only seeks your admiration and love, that it was OKAY to say such mean things — as long as people couldn’t hear them. Now, I’m no parenting expert. And I don’t know you. I don’t know what kind of day you had. I don’t know what you have to deal with when you leave the dance studio. But this much I know…

You are grooming your daughter to be a mean girl. 

Saying my kid’s shoes are ugly may seem pretty low on the totem pole in regards to other terrible things she could say. But she is FOUR. FOUR YEARS OLD. And she thinks it is not only okay, but perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone out of the blue and say rude things. I can tell you one thing that I am almost 100% sure of – it’s not going to get better from here.

You gave her permission to talk behind someone’s back. You gave her permission to say unkind words to an almost perfect stranger. You gave her permission to do it in a public setting that disrespects adults. {Hello, I am standing right here!?!}

So “Mean Mom”, I can’t help but think of what my daughter is going to face in the future because of parents like you. I grew up being bullied in my elementary school years. I know the pain that comes with that entire journey. I also know that not all my bullies had parents who encouraged this behavior. Some parents did their best, but perhaps their child had a strange personality quirk or insecurity that promoted the bullying behavior. However, there was a group, just like you, that either casually dismissed the behavior like you did, or stuck their heads in the sand because surely that wasn’t “their” little girl.

Well, it is. It is yours. And she is mean. And you did NOTHING. Not.a.thing. Why? Isn’t this parenting gig hard enough? We are constantly playing taxi driver, shuffling kids back and forth to school, outside activities, making sure they eat somewhat healthy meals, helping with homework, and praying they collapse into bed without a fight. Why make your life more difficult by promoting this? I don’t get it. Can you make me understand why this is okay?

But actually, I should be thanking you. Because of your child, I was able to open an honest dialogue with my child. Up to this point, her interaction with meanies has been somewhat limited. For that I’m grateful. But next year, she will break into the wild, open spaces of Kindergarten, and I’m pretty sure that is going to quickly change. So, this year we prepare. We prepare her heart for hurtful statements. We talk about the POWER of our words. How quickly you can cut someone to the quick if you aren’t respectful. How important it is to use our “kind words” and words that praise others and their abilities. Words that offer salve to a wound, not introduce salt into the gash.

You may be wondering about my daughter. Is she perfect? No, absolutely not. Does she sometimes say unkind things? Yes, she does. But is the punishment for those words swift, immediate, and justified? Yes, yes, and yes.

You may be wondering about me as a mom. Am I perfect? No, absolutely not. Do I always parent the way I should? No, because sometimes it’s dang hard. But do I teach my children to respect, love, and give the world their best? Yes, yes, and yes.

Maybe it was a bad day for you, Momma. Maybe you were embarrassed. Maybe you were caught off guard as much as I was. So maybe, just maybe, that was the first thought that popped in your head. I hope to goodness that’s what happened. I pray that your beautiful girl with this moldable and impressionable heart gets better than that from you. She deserves it. She has a chance to do good in this small world we live in. I hope you’ll give her that opportunity.

Until then, I’ll continue to speak truth into my daughter’s life. That sometimes, for reasons we may never know, people are unkind. But that never, ever gives us an excuse to be that way as well. I’ll take honey over vinegar any day of the week. And mean mom, I can tell you after thirty-five years of walking this earth, that meanness gets you very little in the future. Sure, you might be a popular kid for a little while. You and your little click walking around like you own the place. But I guarantee you, that’s fleeting. See, even when I was bullied or saw other people bullied through middle school, guess who rose to the top in senior high? The nice kids. The ones that would go out of their way to treat everyone with kindness. True story. And it continues today. I don’t know one mom that surrounds me in our many activities of preschool functions, baseball games, swim lessons, or dance lessons who seeks out the “mean mom” to be friends with. My life is way too short and way too fulfilled to waste my precious energy on getting the meanie to like me. Those days are long gone, along with uni belts and scrunchies.

So Mean Mom, I pray that you aren’t. I’ll look for you next Tuesday at class and try to catch your eye. And I will hope that we will be aligned as like-hearted moms, who only want the best for our kids AND who desire to raise wholesome girls in this very, scary world. And then I’ll pray that your child will be kind to mine behind the closed doors of the studio. But most of all, I will pray that my daughter knows her worth goes beyond anything you could utter, your child will say, or even I will remark. That she is most precious, with a sweet, generous heart that is designed to love. Even the meanies.

Love,

The Mom Who Didn’t Have the Words that Day but Now I do.

,

19 Responses to Dear Mean Girl…

  1. Avatar
    Cynthia Aldridge September 29, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    Meagan,

    I absolutely LOVE your letter. You are so right about ‘not knowing what to say’ at the time, but you said it all perfectly!!! I pray your sweet angel doesn’t have to deal with too many ‘mean girls’. Sadly, as you & I know, it’s good that you are teaching how to handle it, because she more than likely, WILL have to deal with them. You are a GREAT mom. You inspire me in so many ways.

    Love ya,
    Cynthia

    • Avatar
      Donna July 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Love love love this! We are dealing with mean girls at church bc they dont want to be friends now with my daughter bc she is a leader not one of their minions!! So yes bullying continues esp. at 14 yrs old. But you are so right the bullies will fall one day!

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    Terry Golden October 6, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    Hi Meagan,

    You are a wonderful Mom! Could you also take a moment to mother the other child’s mother? If you approach her and talk as respectfully as you wrote this post you might do the world immeasurable good by reiterating what you heard and asking if the words were really her intention. You were right to provide allowance for face-saving in the post. However, if her true intentions were revealed, a gentle unveiling of the perpetuation of the “mean girl” personality would make her aware that you see the behavior. Each of the mothers who think like you and respectfully call this behavior out provide a positive model for your own children and diminish the power of the mean parents/children.

    Excellent post. I was moved.

  3. Avatar
    Samantha October 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    I death with a lot of nasty things from a mom when I put my son in dancing. He was 3 and he loved dancing at home, and I wanted him to have the extra social interaction, and I thought it was a good way for my to get in touch with other moms also, as I am a single mom. This particular mom said so many things under her breath about the boy in the class. Once we were in the bathroom changing and she entered the studio and started blabbing her tra about I Must be one of those confused mothers that must have wanted a daughter and Yada Yada and so when we exited the bathroom, she was pretty mortified. I just smiled in her face and said, too bad the door isn’t sound proof. Some people doesn’t realize how many actions children absorb!

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    Kryslyn October 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    I do not understand how a parent thinks any unkind words are okay, in public or in private.
    May that mother be dealt with someday with the same disrespect, mean, and hurtful things she brought onto your little one. It won’t be the “cool” or “fun” thing when it happens to her. Especially if it happens when she is elderly.
    I pray her daughter will learn right from wrong in school where her teachers will hopefully be able to right the wrong her mother started that day.
    All children are precious with gentle loving hearts; no matter their looks, their clothes, their speech, their physical aptitudes.
    Thank you for sharing and saying what a lot of mothers feel.
    I pray my lil girl never has to experience these things, nor anything I went through with those “mean moms & kids”.

  5. Avatar
    LC October 7, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Wow, no offense, but I think this is a bit over the top. Do I think the little girl’s comment was appropriate? No, I do not. However, children at this age are inherently blunt and honest about their opinions. They have no filter. The mother corrected her child. We all raise our children differently and maybe that mom feels her daughter should be entitled to her opinion about not liking something, but it is not appropriate to say such things out loud. You state how people should use kind words, but here you are calling a mom and her daughter mean over a pair of shoes. If my daughter was told her shoes were ugly, I would not focus on how mean the comment was, but rather use it as a way to instill a sense of confidence in my daughter by stating that it does not matter if someone else likes her shoes, as long as she is happy with them.

    • Avatar
      Yes October 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

      ^^^^ Yes. This. Let’s get the chip off our shoulder and teach our children to be resilient. Over the sensitivity already.

      • Avatar
        Sue October 17, 2015 at 10:55 am #

        I agree.

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      TseKah October 16, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

      LC,
      thansk for making me believe there are sane people in this world. You are spot on!

    • Avatar
      Lindsay July 29, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

      Agree! There is a lesson to be learned here, but I don’t believe mean words = mean people. We have all said things we have regretted. The lesson to me is to instill confidence in our daughters, and let mean words not take hold. Discuss why someone would say that and explain that people are entitled to their own opinions, because the one thing we cannot do is keep people from having their own opinion.

  6. Avatar
    Gina October 7, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    Great letter from a great mom! Our Kindergarten teacher has an amazing approach called “wrinkled hearts.” Basically you don’t want to wrinkle someone else’s heart or have your heart wrinkled. Its been a simple and easy concept to teach our daughter and has gone along way in navigating feelings at school. Best of luck!

  7. Avatar
    Ann October 10, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    It’s a very nicely written post Meagan. And you were there when you heard it..and the other parent didn’t do anything about it.Imagine all the words that were said out of ear-shot. So sad!And so young too!

    There’s everything wrong in that. guess you can’t protect the kids always, but they need to be given an immunity to deal with it when it happens to them. I tell my kids to just walk away and tell the other mean person that they are not being nice. I don’t see why our kids should tolerate such behaviour.

  8. Avatar
    Suki October 13, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    I often have trouble finding the words to teach my young daughter how to use her “filter” before saying her opinions out loud. So i just have to know, had you been the mom of the “mean” girl, what would you have said (word for word)?

    • Avatar
      Courtney July 29, 2017 at 9:52 am #

      I’d tell her that speaking rudely about other people and their things is not allowed. I’d march her up to the little girl and ask her to apologize. She would then have a lot more talking with me about her feelings and actions in the car ride home. Yes, kids are unfiltered. This can be amazing! We work on developing a good character from the start, putting themselves in other people’s shoes and following Jesus in our family. We aren’t perfect, and I’ve been embarrassed by my kids too. On the flip side, I want strong girls… so we also work a lot on “standing up for yourself” and “speaking up for what is right”. Because my girls have been on the receiving end of senseless and cruel comments by kids. So they need to say things like “You’re not allowed to speak to me that way.”

  9. Avatar
    Courtney July 29, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    I think we should be best friends! Haha! I’ve been through this at the CHURCH MOMS GROUP PLAYDATE!!! Yes, an older boy pushed down my much younger girl and I looked at the mother… I am a teacher so it’s way to easy for me to correct other peoples children. I have to force myself to look around for the mother. I did. She laughed. I was fuming. She didn’t speak to him about it and didn’t make him apologize. The push put my daughter on the ground and I consoled her. The mother laughed again when I went to sit back down and said “how cute?!?!!! She cried!!!”… I (in that moment) could only state “She isn’t used to that type of behavior.” And I’ve regretted how I didn’t handle it ever since (obviously). In the moment, you’re just in shock. I mean, I was in church for goodness sake?!? Loved the article!

  10. Avatar
    Dawn August 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    Well, I guess we see who the mean moms are in THIS particular group. LOL It sickens me when kids obviously recreate what they’ve learned from home. I suppose the mean girls that we had to deal with in our days grew up to be those same mean moms raising their own mean kids. The cycle continues, sadly.

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    Patti Clossman August 2, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    I am 83 years old and can remember when I was a senior ìn high school (Lash high. Zanesville ohio) one my “friends” had her boyfriend and say he was another person in our call and asked me to go to the prom. Asked my mother and she said I didn’t have a gown . Later found out who actually called . Still remember the humiliation I felt when I found out it was supposed to be funny
    How mean and have always taught our children to respect others.
    truly if I had been there I would have told the other mother of my discust.

  12. Avatar
    AJ August 10, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    I would have said something directly to the child myself. Simply “that’s not a very nice thing to say.” She made a negative comment repeatedly so was looking for a reaction. She would have gotten one from me.

  13. Avatar
    drag0nfli August 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    Great post but sadly mean moms beget mean girls!!! I have encountered some real dooseys with my 4 kids. It is the perfect opportunity to teach your child with your values and that not everyone in this word is nice but you can respond with grace. Thank you for not raising another little a$$hole, we got enough of those!

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