Failing my daughter

MiaI wrote this post during the tail end of December and have kept it in draft ever since, not sure whether I wanted to post it or not.
Things are infinitely better now and we’re smiling again. But this blog was always a diary of our lives and I never want to pretend everything in the garden is rosy when it’s absolutely not.
So today I’m posting it. And reading it with a wry smile, because we have moved on and my girl has a big smile on her face again.
Circumstances have meant she has moved school midway through Year 3, not because of the below but it was definitely a contributing factor.
And this photo I snapped on my phone as we left for her first day makes my heart swell.

**************

Dec 10, 2013
I’ve sat and wept tonight. Sobbed. Big fat self-pitying tears.
I wrote this post, then I deleted it. Then I started again. Then I left it in draft for a couple of hours.
It’s one of those things I don’t want to talk about; pretend it’s not as bad as I initially thought. Told myself it would go away.
It hasn’t gone away.

Mia is going through a horrible time at school.
Girl stuff. The usual ‘you can’t play with us because . . . ‘ or the whispering a secret to everyone except Mia and then all giggling at her.
But because she is used to hanging around with her older brother and his friends she just doesn’t understand it.
“Why do they behave like that? They’re supposed to be my friends; I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong . . . I’ve tried talking to them about it but they just pull a face and carry on doing it.”
And here’s the killer.
“I hate going to school and having to go through that. There are days when I have no one to play with.”
Stab to my heart.
“I’ve tried all the things you’ve taught me mum. I’ve really tried, but you don’t understand what it’s like. It’s horrible. I hate it.”
Stabby stab stab.

The thing is Mia is 8. Sure I remember going through something very similar at school with girls who wanted to be top dog and ‘rule’ the playground, but I’m pretty sure that was in secondary school. Not when I was 8. Eight is just too young to deal with having to make a stand against someone being mean and turning everyone else against you.

Mia and I talk. A lot. She tells me how it makes her feel and I try to counsel in how to handle it and move forward. And she loves that I’ll listen to every in and out of the story as clearly she never gets to vent at school when the dinner ladies only catch the tail end of an incident and brush it off with a casual eye roll.
But my girl is coming home from school sobbing her heart out. Tears of frustration mainly I think, but tears nonetheless. It’s really not like her.
And as her mother all I want to do is reach right into that playground and sort it out myself.Β Ask the other girl’s mother if she even knows what her daughter is doing; the upset she’s causing; the influence she’s exerting on other girls.
But I don’t because I don’t know the other mother that well at all and well, I only really have one side of the story don’t I? And I keep telling myself it’s just the playground, it’s something everyone has to learn to deal with because, let’s face it, life is going to be WAY tougher once you’re out in it.
I’ve spoken to her teacher and she’s dealt with it brilliantly. But it’s not going away. And I can see her spark dimming right before my eyes.

Then this week the killer blow. A little note under my pillow as I get in to bed penned by Mia:
‘Mummy I hate it at school. Please help me’.
Please help me . . .Β This parenting lark, eh? Bloody tough.
I know I’m not really failing her, but it bloody feels like it at the time.

 

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77 Responses to Failing my daughter

  1. Strictlyjen says:

    That’s a heartbreaking note! I’m glad you listened and she’s moved school and I wish her happiness there.

  2. nappyvalleygirl says:

    Poor Mia! I'm glad to hear she's moved. I encountered mean girls at a slightly older age and looking back, I think it would have good to have moved school, instead of putting up with it for years. ( It's left me deeply suspicious of other women in some ways – I'm always sensitive to remarks that could be construed as bitchy.) I hope the new school is fabulous and that she thrives there.

  3. Kate says:

    Oh bless her heart! You must have been in pieces too πŸ™ I'm so glad you've managed to sort it out – no kid should go through that (even though it's so common) … sometimes you just have to make the decision you feel is right at the time, which is what you've done. Can't have been easy. Love to lovely Mia x
    My recent post What Makes a Good Friend?

  4. glenda says:

    there are no rules to being a parent and I think the biggest ruler of all is your heart! as a parent of two girls 9 and 6 I totally get where you are coming from with this Tara. We moved area to start afresh and my girls started a new school and my youngest got bullied emotionally and physically in her first term there! Then one day she stood in the classroom declaring "I am scared mum I don't want to be here" the sickness, fear, emotions that fill you from head to toe is unreal and it is something I will never forget. As a parent you want your children to be happy. I went straight to the head called the parents into the school and things changed from that day thank god and a year on ironically my youngest is a much stronger person and the bullies look up to her now. For Mia I think you have definitely done the right thing and I am sure she will blossom at her new school! onwards and upwards for 2014 x

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Glenda. Girls just seem like a totally different kettle of fish to me. I mean totally different. I didn't have anything like this with her older brother, so it came as a bit of a shock! Glad it all worked out for your girls too x
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  5. notsupermum says:

    Girls are horrible. And I say that as a girl (woman) myself, as a teacher, and as the mum of two teenage girls. Girls can be much worse than boys as this sort of stuff that goes on at school and between friends. As a teacher I used to spend a lot of time trying to sort of issues with groups of girls, usually when there were three of them – for some reason that is the worst number. I'm glad it's a bit better, and you're doing everything you should be doing – talking and listening – but it does get tough sometimes. xx
    My recent post Happy thrifty new year ~ or how I reduced my bills by over £100 a month

  6. Sandy_Calico says:

    Oh, it's such an enormous worry. There's not enough cotton wool in the world to protect them from mean girls. Best of luck with Mia's new school. Sending you both massive hugs xx
    My recent post 25 Years Ago

  7. Mummyofminxymonkeys says:

    Thanks for taking the plunge and posting. We are heaving similar issues – they seemed to have settled now and with two big brothers in the school I feel more secure that we do know about exactly what's going on – however I am watching every reaction to school in fear. Your post just made me feel like neither me or my daughter are all alone and that really helps.

  8. kateab65 says:

    Oh blimey, Tara. Sorry to hear that this happened and by the sounds of it, anything you said didn't warrant enough action. Sometimes a clean break is for the best; even this is not the only reason, I'm sure the fact that those same children are still there would have made things difficult for Mia if things had got so bad.

    I am lucky that Missy hasn't had issues of this magnitude, tho she does have an issue with another child, who went out of her way to tell her that she's not invited to her parties "because my mum thinks you've been mean to me". Now, I know she's not an angel but that's just not her way; everyone I've mentioned it to that knows her are incredulous, and she is well known to be the one who sorts out problems between friends. She doesn't seem too bothered about it but this same child has made a slitting throat motion to her and her friend in the playground back in summer term and once called them stupid fat idiots at a party. Yet, other days she's their friend.

    I spoke to the school and they were not aware of major issues but are keeping an eye on the situation. I suspect the root of the problem is not the child but the parent. Nuff said; I'm not going into details on the Internet. So, I've just encouraged her to stay playing with the girls she does get along with and are kind hearted.

    I hope she will love her new school. We have regularly gained children mid-year at our school for similar reasons and they are all happy kids now.

    • Tara says:

      From what I've experienced it seems like a power thing. Why would you go out of your way to tell someone they're not invited to a party if not to lord something over them?
      Thing is, you know it happens but when it happens to yours (or indeed if it's yours doing it) it's a proper kick in the guts
      She's been there a couple of weeks now and has really taken to it. Had a couple of wobbles but they're totally to be expected
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  9. Expat Mum says:

    Oh no – every mother's nightmare. I hope she has a better time at the new school. One thing I found was to have friends over one at a time; that way they get to know your child without having to "play a part" in front of the other kids. It's the pack mentality that is often the straw that breaks the camel's back. If your child has a few allies, it makes it a whole lot better.
    I am also a big advocate of getting the school involved, especially since it's happening on their time and territory. It doesn't have to be a telling off; sometimes it just takes getting the kids into a small group and talking about "feelings". Our school has Friendship meetings at lunch times, which I used to semi scoff at, but it goes a long way to getting the kids to respect each others' feelings.
    My recent post Teaching Geordie to Americans

    • Tara says:

      We did do this EM, and all was fine and dandy. When it's one on one. The minute it's back in the playground and there is someone to impress is when it all broke down again. Urgh. We also got the school involved the year before and they were brilliant at sitting both of the girls down and getting them to talk and reveal how each other felt in certain situations.
      The minute the next term began, BOOM back to square one!
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  10. Expat Mum says:

    And PS – There's no "failing" involved.
    My recent post Teaching Geordie to Americans

  11. Poor Mia. Rosemary has had some big issues with the group of girls she plays with – but all three of them seem to be at fault (or, I think, just learning about this stuff). They were actually banned from playing together for a few months in Year 2, but they have settled a bit. They are extremely close and also all three of them are very wilful and independent. They're probably going to be amazing women, but I hate how horrible they can be to each other, even though I see that it usually lasts 5 minutes. All the parents involved talk to them about it and try to help them see that they should be nicer to each other, but it's only really now starting to sink in, and whether it will stay sunk in I have no idea.

    I hate it!
    My recent post How do you teach children morality?

    • Tara says:

      It's horrid isn't it Tash? I think the trouble is we expect adult things of them and they're just kids feeling their way through life. I expected Mia to say 'I'm not standing for this' and walk away and understand that friends don't treat each other like that, but she didn't and I would get frustrated but she was just being a kid.
      Urgh!
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  12. SusanKMann says:

    Oh honey that's heartbreaking and you have anything but failed your daughter. Bless her wee heart. This is why I never wanted my kids to go to school, I remember this and it's horrid. I'm glad things are on the up and hope she is happier at her new school. Biggest hugs from me to you and Mia xx

  13. how to make me want to cry over my 3 o clock coffee!! poor mia. hugs all around and i hope it all goes well for her in her new school xxxx
    My recent post psst! need a new mascara?! read on…

  14. henrietta pretty says:

    Oh god, that note πŸ™
    I was bulled quite terribly at about 8. I say terribly – there was nothing physical, and looking back as an adult it was pretty inane stuff – but it felt huge at the time.
    The thing is that most people i talk to have been bullied at some point in their lives, and i have at times wondered whether a small amount of bullying is part of the ups and down of life, and is somehow useful in development.
    Difficult as that is to say, and I dread, absolutely dread the day this happens to my children, I have kind of resigned myself to the fact that it will happen.
    Of course i don't mean persistent, extreme targeting of a child, just the usual cattiness that moves on to the net child as quickly as it started on you / them.
    Such a difficult thing to deal with as a mum, to stay rational and balanced.

    x

    • Tara says:

      You are absolutely right Hen. I was bullied and I actually think it helped shape me into who I am today. And you do expect it. But once it's your child you become an irrational mess! I think had the other school place not come up we would have stayed and I would have found a way to help her through it, but as fortune had it we had the opportunity to move and took it.

      My recent post How to fall asleep

  15. Kathy says:

    Bloody tough for sure! So glad it has worked itself out now tho. But honestly, the thing I got out of your post more than anything else is THIS….your daughter talks to you! As long as you have that open communication…everything will eventually be fine. Not all parents have that. You are blessed.

  16. Erica says:

    She's a top girl and you're a top mum – so pleased that things are better now – must have broken your heart at the time.

  17. Kathryn Brown says:

    Heartbreaking stuff, but you are not to blame. Like you say, it happens and we all know that girls in particular can be incredibly mean to the point of evil in some cases. Amy went through some pretty tough times at first school (when she was 7/8) but that was 2 boys, bullying her because she was too vulnerable to stand up for herself. It was horrendous and I went through hell with the school but because she is autistic and then had a statement for being in a mainstream school, it would have been more of an issue trying to move her school than it was trying to sort out the problems with bullying – which is why I took to the blog and was threatened with legal action after the Head got hold of the post. Long story, done and dusted long ago, but very worrying at the time.

    Looking back now, I should have just taken Amy out of school. End of. And homeschooled her. Parenting is bloody tough but with those tough times comes the wonderful memories that keep us going through the bad.

    Take care, CJ x

  18. mamacookblogspot says:

    Oh my. That note made me cry.

    My 3 year old son was told by his best friend at nursery that he didn't want to be friends anymore one day. He was beside himself. I wish I could protect him from hurt but sadly adults are no better.

    Oh and I was bullied when I was at primary school. Sadly it's all been around a long time.

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  19. Oh that's so sad. I really feel for you and I'm so pleased you got through it and have come out of the other side smiling. Girls can be so cruel – my 11 y/o went through a bad stage last year and it was awful. It sounds like you've got a great relationship with her too x x
    My recent post 25 things you should do this year with your children….

  20. You might have warned us to have tissues ready for that last bit. Through my tears I'm writing to say I'm glad she's come through it and can now move on. And I agree with all the others – a mother's nightmare. xxx
    My recent post When Everything Breaks At Once

  21. Molly says:

    Horrible, horrible, horrible. As the mum of a little girl (only three years old) this is definitely one of the things that worries me about my own daughter starts school. I know bullying and playground nastiness happens with boys and girls, but as a girl myself I remember how unpleasant all that stuff could be. Glad it's all sorted now though. Must be horrible to feel powerless to do anything about it.
    My recent post The Motherhood Test

  22. Oh bless her, I was bullied at school when we moved. I was 14 and it was hell, sadly kids seem to start everything at a younger age these days. I hope she settles well in her new school, with nicer girls around her.
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  23. pobbingalong says:

    Cripes. How fantastic that she told you though. Heartbreaking x

  24. nuttycow says:

    Oh Mia, oh Tara! How blessed you are to have a relationship where your daughter trusts you so much that she'll talk to you about this. I'm also thrilled to hear that she's moved to another school. How's she enjoying that?

    (P.S. Didn't get how you'd failed her – I think you did everything you could)

    Much love to you both.
    My recent post First impressions count

    • Tara says:

      She's been there a few weeks now Nutty and she's settled in really well. Had a couple of wobbles which I think are totally understandable. But she tells me she loves it as they give her more homework!
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  25. cosmicgirlie says:

    Jeeeeeeeesus. I have no words. Noah occasionally comes home and tells me the other children won't play with him, even after he "asks them nicely" (but they still run away laughing), and I do everything within my mental power to talk him through it, brush it off, go play with your brother instead…ahhhhhh I have no answers. I'm no good at that bit.

    But Mia's note? Lordy. I would be immensely thankful that at least she was able to come to you. Big massive luffy squooshy hugs, lady. After 5 solid years of being bullied through high school, I can already tell you that, just in taking an interest in Mia's pleas for help, you're already doing the right thing. I always wish I was able to tell someone, but I never did. Mia is incredibly lucky to have you be there for her. Much love. x
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  26. Elaine Livingstone says:

    you havent failed your daughter. You love her and protect her, listen to her, advise her and then listen some more. She feels enough love and had the confidence to leave you a note, your a great mum. You have taken on board everything she has told you, spoken to the people is so called authority and then made a hard choice. This choice is designed to help her, to protect her, to make her feel happy again, to stop the bullying and let her enjoy her childhood….I would hardly call that failure.
    Your a brilliant mum and she is a cracking girl and she will thank you for this one day.

  27. Nickie says:

    There is no way on this earth that you are failing Mia. No way at all. You've taken action when she's asked for help – and I'm so in awe at the relationship you and her have (even after reading about her occasional challenging behaviour in the past). She knew she could turn to you and you've found a way to fix the problem.

    I think half of the issue is that Mia is so much more mature than the other 8 year olds in the playground because of the relationship she has with her brother and her peers didn't know how to cope with that – so they resort to all they know… sticking together to become the stronger force.

    I'd be interested in what steps the old school took to help you both and how the new school is supporting Mia. That's hugely important too.
    My recent post There's Juice Loose Aboot This Hoose

    • Tara says:

      Her old school were actually really good Nickie. They called the girls together to talk through things without ever being accusatory or making either of them uncomfortable. I think it was just a power thing. You're absolutely right that mia is a lot more mature than some of the others in her class and where she can be level headed and want to sort things out, they will do the arms folded, bottom lip right out and ignore you kind of thing and that drove her mad!

      My recent post How to fall asleep

  28. storminakcup says:

    Oh my word! The note! No wonder you have sobbed Tara. I am so glad you have reached a happy conclusion and I hope Mia will be happy, settled and loved by her fellow students in her new school. Gem x
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  29. Been there. Heartbreaking πŸ™
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  30. jessicamilln says:

    Heart breaking stuff this parenting lark and such a journey. This was my post. Similar pain just over 3 years ago. My vulnerable boy is now embarking on his GCSE's this year and I'm preparing myself for the months of roller coaster emotions ahead. http://jessicamilln.com/2010/11/12/my-angel-in-gu
    My recent post Very Underprepared in the Feeling Festive

    • Tara says:

      Oh my goodness Jessica that is so heartwrenching. You just want to take all the pain and hurt away and give them your adult understanding of situations. But you can't and it's utter agony to watch them go through it
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  31. WallyMummy says:

    God this really made me cry x kids are so cruel πŸ™ I hope things get better for her. It’s so un fair x don’t know what else to write but I just hope it all works out xxx

  32. Oh gosh this gave me a huge lump in my throat. Especially the note.

    I’m SO glad she is happier now. This post has really upset me – not just how mean children can be, but that my little girl starts school in September and I have to teach her about all of this.

  33. Coombe Mill says:

    So pleased you have moved on and now publishing this as a reflective post. Kids can be cruel and no one wants their daughter on the receiving end of bullies. I hope she stays happy in her new school. Thank goodness you are a Mummy she could talk to and who acted for her. Never easy to know what to do but sounds like you got it right..

  34. Cara says:

    absolutely heartbreaking, ur poor darling Mia & urself too. I have such a heavy heart, this is too cruel! Ur daughter is so wonderful to tell u and u are a WONDERFUL MOTHER to instill the confidence in Mia to of told u knowing you would help. Sending huge hugs and love to u both. You have not failed her…absolutely not!! xx
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  35. Katie says:

    Wow. I’m heartbroken on your behalf, your poor daughter. Kids can be do cruel and I’m dreading the school age. Someone told my 3 year old he was stinky at pre-school recently and that one incident alone nearly made me cry!
    Really hoping Mia is much happier at her new school and she makes lots of lovely friends there xxx

  36. Jude Hurrell says:

    Sob, sniff, sob. I've been there as a child and am already dreading it as a parent. Wow, though, what a great relationship you have. Sounds like she can tell you anything. Glad to hear things are better now. Onwards! And by the way, although it was horrible and I'd rather it never happened at all, my experience of being bullied did make me stronger and in the end, it was the bully who came off worst. When I took a stand, people gradually started agreeing with me and he lost power. Think most people knew it was wrong but were too scared to stand up to him. I gained respect for having a go. Hope your little one never has to go through it again but hope that's of some comfort if she does.
    My recent post A few admissions about School Admissions

  37. mimiindublin says:

    That is heartbreaking, poor little Mia.
    As long as she knows that you will always listen and look out for her, you're not failing her. But it is really important that she knows that you will still listen even now she has moved school.
    Some girls are terrible for picking on anyone who is different, but there are many good kids out there too. I hope Mia meets loads of lovely new friends, fingers crossed for her.

  38. Notmyyearoff says:

    Oh gosh what a heart wrenching note πŸ™ you’re a brilliant mummy for helping her so quickly and grabbing the situation by its horns. I hope she loves her new school. x

  39. Trish says:

    This is something we all dread as parents and I'm thankful I've never encountered it with my boy, although as a child myself I was subject to some bitchiness from other girls, so I remember how it feels.
    So pleased to read how things have improved – that big smile says it all x

  40. becky says:

    Oh Tara we moved my son in year 3 too partly becaus eof bullying like this and he is far FAR happier at a school whre superision is higer and meaness is taken VERY seriously He could never understand it nad we gave him lots of statergies..well done you for encouraging a fresh start. brings out all your protective instaincets doesn't it.. My little giel is now 6 some of the kids in her class (girls) are so mean to each other over who can cant play I am truly shocked. she knows never to do this but it makes her sad. Parenting touyh!

  41. Elsie Button says:

    Ooh it can be so heartbreaking and hard. This post made me well up. Am so glad things are massively better for you both. Sending love xxx
    My recent post Hands off my phone!

  42. nazima says:

    Oh Tara, my goodness. I am wishing you lots of love and happiness for her and that things are better in new school. xxx

  43. OMG that is so heartbreaking I really feel for you. Girls are really really mean in that respect. A friend of mine was in a very similar position a few years ago with her daughter who at the time was in YR5.Her daughter had started wetting the bed she was so unhappy! In the end she changed her school although she was worried she had gone over the top- when I caught up with her a few months later and she said it was the best thing she ever did- she got her daughter back. Her daughter is so happy now she knew she made the right decision. I know this is extreme but sometimes it takes a difficult decision to make things better. A very heartbreaking situation to be in πŸ™
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  44. Karen says:

    This is heartbreaking and my big worry about having daughters… My words on finding out Peanut was to be girl’ oh my god girl are horrible’ I can not understand how we can show such solidarity to our sisters yet as a species be so torturous as well !!!

  45. 25castleson25clouds says:

    So pleased to hear she is in a better place. People can be cruel – I was bullied out of my previous boss by my job so I can understand how she feels. It is brilliant that she has talked to you about it and that she feels she can.

  46. This post brought tears to my eyes. I don't remember going through stuff like this at age 8. But my younger brother faced it through most of middle and high school. His experiences have left him deeply wounded. There really is no other way to describe it. My little girl started the year with friend issues too. She's 7 and also doesn't get it. We spoke to the teacher who said that it seems to be starting younger and younger. Thankfully for us, our little girls seems to have resolved whatever it was that was going on. As for Mia, I am glad that she's moved to a different school and I hope she thrives and is happy there. I'm glad you shared this. It definitely drives home that we're not alone. Thank you.

  47. Trudi says:

    We went through something very similar last year, our daughter was 8 at the time and was experiencing similar issues. Unfortunately she is also a severe asthmatic and all the stress was affecting her health. She is now at a school where she is supported and the pastoral care is excellent, it was really tough going through it all, but she is now in a far better place and loving school. I hope that it all settles down for you and well done for publicising this all too common issue.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks for commenting Trudi. You always feel that nag nag nag that you're overreacting, but at the end of the day you know you child and what is best for them and so you have to act on it. Glad it worked out for you guys. So so horrid
      My recent post How to fall asleep

  48. Linda Green says:

    Hi Tara. That note just had me in tears. A year ago we pulled our then 8-y-o son out of his school for various reasons including the fact that we could see the light inside him gradually getting dimmer because he couldn't be himself at school. A friend who used to work with children told me that if they couldn't be themselves it took them twice as long to get back to how they had been as it did to lose themselves in the first place.
    We found a school in which we thought he could be himself. We had to move to go there. A while after he started his new school, the little boy who gets so attached to people and places that he would never have asked to leave of his own accord said 'I didn't like my old school one little bit Mummy.' It hasn't been without its problems. We have learnt that there are children who will pick on other children for being different at every school. But we have seen our son come through the difficulties, seen the light coming back on and burning brighter now than it has ever done before. So glad to hear Mia is smiling again now and hope she'll still will be smiling in a year's time. And you're right, this parenting lark is so bloody hard! X

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  50. sarahmo3w says:

    That brought tears to my eyes. What an awful thing for a child to go through. As the parent of the daughter the same age I know how young and innocent they still are and how heartbreaking it must be for you. You absolutely did the right thing in moving her. I hope she thrives at her new school.
    My recent post Making a start (the new house)

  51. youbabymemummy says:

    Oh how upsetting. i'm glad she is happy now x
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