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Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Daughter Was Thoughtless Yesterday, And My Heart Aches For It

Last night was a hard night. I got a call from a family friend, who put me on the phone with her daughter, and then I got my heart broken.

My beautiful, usually kind, mostly thoughtful girl did something awful yesterday.

She gossiped.

That in and of itself isn't the end of the world. Girls will be girls and twelve year old girls will gossip. Hell, I've been known to indulge a bit myself, despite my best intentions. What made this offense so egregious is that she betrayed some very, very private things about this girl to some gossipy middle school girls, who made short work of spreading it around.

We live in a small town. There is nowhere for this girl to hide.

My daughter's thoughtless actions have emotionally eviscerated and publicly humiliated her.

Wait, it gets worse.

Anna was at her father's house last night when I got this call, so I immediately hung up and called to speak to her. Half an hour later, after a lot of tears (on my part) and back-and-forth between us, I ended the call because she just. didn't. get. it.

I didn't hear remorse. I didn't hear responsibility. I heard "Mom, I only told two friends, it's not my fault if they spread it around."

Yes, it is your fault, I told her. They couldn't have spread it if you hadn't given them the knowledge. And do you understand the gravity of what you've done here? The hurt you've caused this girl who never did a thing to you to deserve it?

This isn't you, I said to her. I raised you to be kind. And this was mean. This was just mean. And hurtful. You are better than this.

And all I got was a twelve year old girl, full of attitude, telling me she got it, OK? I got it, Mom. I'll call her tomorrow and say I'm sorry.

After her call with me, I hung up and dialed her father, going over it all again. Then he sat her down and had a similar talk, with similar results. And a similar sense of frustration.

And today, I sit at work and my heart is heavy, for this beautiful young girl that was hurt by my daughter's thoughtlessness, and for my daughter, who needs to learn empathy. I find it odd that I'm writing that, when her brother is autistic and would never knowingly hurt someone this way. And if he had unwittingly done so, his remorse would have rendered him unable to function once he'd learned of the offense.

His sister is becoming a young woman now, and she needs to understand that words are powerful things, that can wound or heal. I can only hope that her sincere apology to this beautiful girl will help the girl find some peace with the situation. And I hope, as well, that my daughter hearing the pain in her voice as she speaks with her will teach her far more than my lecture did.

I hope it hurts her to hear. I can't say I've ever wanted my daughter to hurt before, but I want it now. Because it's what she needs.

I want the pain of today's conversation to leave a permanent scar, that will hopefully seal her lips on future occasions.

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