On the weekend, while in the city, the girls discovered some long fake braids while at the dollar store. They were both convinced that they wanted one … blue and purple Paw Patrol for Madilyn and yellow and pink Belle for Mackenzie … so I bought them, albeit a little reluctantly.
Of course, I’ve had to “install” these in the girls hair a few times in the last couple of days. Yesterday morning, I asked Madilyn if she wanted her braid in for playschool. With a resounding “yes,” I began my work.
“Hey! That’s not fair! Why does she get to wear hers to school and I don’t?” questioned Mackenzie. I had told her a few times before then that she was not going to be able to wear her braid to school.
As I thought about why (and continued putting Madilyn’s braid in), I confessed to Mackenzie that I was afraid that she would be teased.
I knew at playschool, Madilyn would be safe … and in fact, I knew her teachers would compliment her and make a big fuss over her new braid (and they did … I witnessed it myself). She could be proud and she would feel all the warm fuzzies a mama wants her baby to feel about an item that was so obviously special to her.
I didn’t picture Mackenzie’s experience to be the same. Like I said, I thought she might be teased or laughed at or that someone might say something rude about her braid, and because it was obviously so special to her, the mama bear in me wanted to protect her … “you won’t be able to wear this braid to school, Sweetie.” I had told her that even before we purchased it from the store.
So why was I so convinced that my oldest daughter’s experience would be so damaging? Only because she’s shared with me again and again some of the mean things that her classmates and kids on the bus have said to her. She’s told me that she doesn’t receive a compliment when she wears something special or something new that it truly special to her. She’s told me that one of her classmates told her he wishes she were dead.
Now, I am not saying that my daughter can’t be downright rotten at times and she’s certainly probably been a part of the cruelty that exists at school and on the bus at times, but knowing the potential hurt my daughter might feel when wearing her braid, I refused (and will continue to refuse) to let her wear it to school.
And all my angst and anxiety about sending my kids to public school resurfaces … I WANT my children to learn and grow in an environment that is encouraging and supportive. I WANT my children to be stretched and challenged appropriately. I WANT to protect my children from all the nastiness of the world, and I CERTAINLY don’t want them to become a part of it. I WANT them to treat others well and be treated well. I want them to be KIND.
Adults often spend years and years working through all they were subjected to throughout grade school. Some get over it, but I would argue that some never do. What if we could prevent some of this hurt and heartache for our kids??? The day in and day out wearing down of their spirits? Their zest for life? Their excitement? I struggle as a mama with this DAILY, and especially once again as I prepare to send my second daughter to kindergarten this fall.
For now, all I can say is this … no fake braids at school for Mackenzie. She can wear it home where she is safe from ridicule.