Half an hour before bedtime the other day, 2 days before grade 3 would end forever, Phemie decided she had to make cards for everyone in her class. Classic Phemie. Is it a universal law that all children remember something they absolutely must cannot wait under any circumstances do, right before bed?
“Everyone Phemie? Can’t you just do them for your friends?” I asked, selfishly, hoping the whole endeavour might take a little less time so close to bedtime.
“No, mama it has to be everyone or some will be upset, and that’s not nice.”
Sigh. Of course she’s right. Damn it, another late bedtime, I thought. “Okay Phemie, that’s lovely.” She glowed with pride. She knew she was right too. We’ve always tried to teach her this, as my dad taught me. Be inclusive. Bring people in, don’t leave them out.
Phemie found a design on the net, and we helped her print them out and fold all 28 into cards. But the writing was up to her. It wasn’t enough to say “Dear Talulah, Love Phemie” (for example). She thought about every child and looked for something kind and specific about them to say. For her teacher, she wrote a poem. For one little girl, she thanked her for having “a lot of empothy“. I didn’t correct her spelling. She’s so sincere, the message was so heartfelt.
Then it came to the girls she’s had some struggles with this year.
“What should I say to her mummy?” she asked looking slightly concerned.
How about I’m so glad they made sure you weren’t in my class next year? No Mia, be good, be kind. Be a role model…
“Ummmm, how about for these ones you just write To …, From ….?”
“No, I can’t do that mummy, I write something nice for everyone else, they won’t be happy if I don’t write something nice for them too…”
Pfffffftttt. “But Phemie. It’s okay. They were not kind to you, you don’t have to pretend. You shouldn’t pretend. Frankly they should be happy you’re even acknowledging them at all after everything…” I trailed off, aware I was in danger of getting a little too upset. She just looked at me and retreated to her room to think up something positive to say. She came back a few minutes later.
“I’ve written in Hermione’s* card… Dear Hermione, You have been kind around your mistakes. Love Phemie.”
My face must have said it all because Phemie immediately insisted, “No, mama, really, she has been. And she said sorry.”
What she wrote had sounded passive aggressive to me but that was not her intent. Kids are pretty literal and blunt at this age. The other girl, Ginny*, outdid herself during one argument between them by telling Phemie, “You’re a bitch, my mum thinks you’re a bitch AND, Phemie, your mum is a bitch too”. The trifecta! Charming right?
I won’t apologise for not wanting Phemie to shower these girls with love. I’m only human and I did not appreciate the vitriol that girl heaped upon my baby. But I am so proud and grateful that she is growing up this way- to forgive (unless it’s her little sister), to look for positives, and try to be kind, always. Funny, because, I taught her that. Chab and I both teach her that. Yet when it’s hard, for me, to forgive, look for positives, and be kind…she’s the one reminding me. ❤
*Hermione and Ginny are not their real names.