Tattle (verb): to utter idly; disclose by gossiping.
Confide (verb): to impart secrets trustfully; discuss private matters or problems
As parents we work really hard to teach our children not to tattle. We don’t take pleasure in hearing the endless cries of “he hit me” or “she called me stupid”. The monotony of it all just makes one want to jab an ice pick in their ear. We try our damnedest to teach them the difference between tattling and confiding in someone your fears. That telling just to get someone in trouble is not fair, but to confide in someone that you are afraid for someone else’s safety is so very important.
Eventually, after hearing MOOOOOOMMMM for the millionth time in twenty-four hours, you give up all hope that they will ever learn the difference between the two. You want to just throw your hands up and walk away. Fighting a losing battle is just not on the agenda today. You come to terms with your failure to teach them the difference.
Then the unthinkable happens and you realize that you have actually done something right. That you might just be on the right path. That they actually were paying attention all this time.
Mom, Monica has been bullying Jennifer all year long. Today it got really, really bad and Jennifer sent me an email at school and said she was going to go home and kill herself. I was really scared.
Those are words you never want to hear from your eleven year old. EVER.
So what did you do?
I told the teacher.
I can’t say it enough. She. Told.
My eyes welled up as I thought about what happened in that one little class at our little school on this day.
Tears of fear as I looked at my daughter and saw the fear in her eyes. Fear for her friend. Fear that maybe she would become the next target. Fear of being labeled as a tattle-tale. A fear that I never want to see on my child’s face again. Fear of the “what-ifs”.
Tears of sadness as I thought about what the internet is doing to our kids. Sad that they feel the need to hide behind a computer screen and beat each other down. Sadness that they care so little for each other’s feelings. Sadness that it now starts so young. Sadness that they feel that suicide is the only answer. The only way to make it stop.
Tears of relief as that wonderful teacher immediately took action. Relief that no matter the sincerity of the email, it was treated as a very serious issue. Relief that her friend told her. Relief that my child was brave enough to tell someone who would take action. Relief that she felt comfortable enough to approach her teacher. Relief that she. told.
Tears of hope as I realized that she is confident in herself. Hope that she continues to stand up for what is right. Hope that she sees that doing good is always better than the opposite. Hope that she continues to keep her caring heart. Hope that her friends see in her what I see in her. Hope that she sees in herself what I see in her.
Tears of pride that she was brave enough to say something. Pride that she loves her friend enough to look out for her. Pride that she told not only the teacher, but me as well. Pride that she did the right thing. Pride that she stood up against the hatred. Immense pride. So much pride that my heart swelled to twice its normal size.
While we are fairly certain that suicide was not really on the menu that day, there is no way of knowing for sure what was going through the mind of a middle school student adrift in a sea of hormones and the constant stream of hateful verbal (cyber) attacks.
What I do know is that she. told.
And I’m so thankful she did.