Comforting Your Child in a Tough Situation
article by Cindy G Foust
When I got the text message that this month was the bridal issue for our BayouLife readers, I simply stared at my phone. Then I carried my tired self to my office to stare at my computer. Crickets. Followed by long, glassy-eyed stares out the window. And then more crickets. I guess I could have tried to find out what the latest flower girl bouquets should look like or what tuxedo you should rent for your ring bearer, but who wants to read about that?
So I began to research my options…you know for summer topics. I just couldn’t bring myself to write about how to get over your fear of water skiing (I need to know the answer to this, because I don’t want Jaws eating my legs in the Ouachita River, either) or a toenail polish DIY tutorial so you will have great summer toes.
I then considered devoting my column on ways to avoid bed bugs when traveling, but well, I decided that would be about as interesting as watching potatoes boil. Crickets again. Does anyone want to know what’s in my purse? I read an article about that the other day, but I’m scared I would need a Tetanus shot if I started going through my purse, so that’s no good. So, as I sometimes have to do when I get writer’s block, I got out the antiquated legal pad and pencil and started scribbling about recent life’s experiences.
Don’t laugh. We all have them. I know most people don’t use them to inspire a monthly column, but we all have daily experiences we could write about, especially if we are parents and still have children at home. As I evaluated some of my notes, I realized I had overlooked a certain incident of significance. Okay, so it doesn’t have anything to do with summer travel plans, but it was somewhat of a family crisis at my house. As I sit in my office this afternoon, I can’t help but think that this is probably something that has happened in most BayouLife homes, so it will probably strike a nerve with many parents.
Several weeks ago, my family and I were leaving the ballpark after watching my son play a baseball game. My little girl, who is now 11, had been playing with friends during the game (as she has cut her teeth at the ballpark and by now, is totally over it.) As it goes most days, she and I had met my husband at the ballpark, so the two of us raced to our car, because it was still so cold. The moment our doors shut, my sweet little girl burst into tears. And these weren’t those “girly” tears, you know, kind of dramatic or fake, but instead were the kind where your whole body shakes and you are crying uncontrollably.
What in the world? I mean, did someone forget to put cheese on her fries? It will suffice to say that when your baby girl is so visibly upset, you have no choice, but to, well, join the party. So there we were, crying in the parking lot at the high school, she’s buckled over nearly dry heaving and I’m just rubbing her back. And crying with her.
When she finally came to her senses and got herself together enough to tell me what had happened (I fully expected the story to include she had been arrested or perhaps she had been expelled from school), through gasping sobs she said, “So-in-So (name withheld to protect the guilty) has been making fun of me and telling me I had big ears, and they were so big I looked like a Smurf.” I know readers, this is supposed to be the climax of the story, and well, like you, I was expecting something newsworthy enough to be on Fox News.
She went on, “And So-in-So likes to make fun of me in front of a bunch of people and then make fun of the little boy at school who writes me love notes (say what? When did that start?) and tell everyone that I am not a good dancer.” Okay, let’s back up to the Smurf comment, I wanted to ask her if she was blue and had white hair, and since she didn’t how in the ding dong could she be compared to a Smurf?
But my parenting antenna went up and I realized, there was more to this story than a Smurf comparison. My child, whom we do everything we can to protect, was deeply hurt by words. Now, when I was a little girl, and I was made fun of, which unfortunately was a frequent occurance as I was rather unfortunate looking, and at nearly six feet tall in the sixth grade, I had feet the length of water skis, my parents would