It was a Halloween party! Some of us school friends (all girls, of course, 4th or 5th grade) were going to Trick-or-Treat in our friend's neighborhood, then go back to her house to enjoy candy and cokes. I loved Halloween, and had decided to make a pumpkin costume using papier-mache over a chicken-wire frame.
I worked on my costume in the garage for days, tearing newspapers into strips, dipping them in the papier-mache paste, plastering them on the frame, waiting for it to dry, then painting the finished pumpkin a gorgeous, bright orange with the traditional black triangle eyes and zig-zag mouth.
Man, was I proud of it! It seemed huge, extending about two feet from me all the way around; my head, covered with green cloth, eye holes cut out, was the stem, and my legs from my knees down were exposed. Oh, and of course my arms were partly out so that I could get candy!
Trick-or-treating was so much fun, at first; I loved seeing how people reacted to my costume, and even though I was uncomfortable and had some difficulty walking in my pumpkin, I didn't care-- it was totally worth it!
Then we came across a group of boys from school. At first they just taunted and harassed us, but after that got boring they surrounded me and began kicking my costume. My friends tried to shoo them away, but they kept showing up! They'd sneak up from behind or jump out from bushes, kicking, laughing, and tearing large sections of the papier-mache from my costume.
There was nothing I could do to stop them from inside my chicken-wire cage, and running wasn't really an option; they'd have been too fast for me anyway. My amazing costume was destroyed and I was devastated.
By the time we got back to my friend's house I was crying, but didn't want anyone to know it--I really wanted not to care about it, to be able to laugh it off--it would have been much cooler--but I couldn't. I called my mom and asked her to come get me.
Most kids will be picked on in some way during childhood, or else they'll be one of the mean kids, (just about any kid is capable of treating other kids badly) and there's not much you can do about it. In fact, parents don't usually even know about it, because kids don't want to tell them; it's too humiliating.
I know I missed a lot of what happened with my kids; I was preoccupied with my own stuff, and often didn't pick up on things that might have been bothering them, especially the quieter ones.
What can we do for our kids when we do find out they've been picked on? As much as we can, when they're willing to talk, we have to be willing to listen, all the way to the end, without interrupting or probing.
We can comfort them, reaffirm our love for them, hug them, and pray with them; and we can gently help them move forward; we should let them know we've been there before, that you can survive and come out on the other side. Even more, we can remind them that Jesus himself was mocked, made fun of, and humiliated, so he knows better than anyone how they feel.
As hard as it is to see our kids hurting, we have to trust God, who loves our kids more than we do, to help us love them through the pain of growing up.
If you have thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at kwparenting on Instagram or Kaye Wilson Parenting on Facebook.