My sister would deny this, but when she and I were kids, she was one hell of an instigator. She knew how to push my buttons. Just like in most good sports fights, the referee (Mom or Dad) usually caught the second one in…which was me. My sister rarely faced the long arm of parental law.
Me? I usually got the business end of my Dad’s leather belt or my Italian mother’s wooden spoon.
My youngest daughter, thankfully, is the only one of my three that seems to get dragged into the teen girl drama that I absolutely abhor. I was spoiled by my older two in that regard.
But the younger one’s promised me a number of times that she is keeping herself under control, despite constant sniping and verbal grenades tossed at her and her friends, with malicious intent, by another girl in her class. Until a week ago. My daughter confessed to me, without my asking, that she had a verbal retort because she no longer could take the abuse without defending herself and her friends.
Fair enough, I responded, just don’t get caught by the powers-that-be. Even though you’ve resisted and have kept yourself under control, with our family’s history (well, just mine) you will be the one to get dragged down to the principal’s ofice instead of the shrew who’s been tormenting you.
The instigator never gets caught.
But here’s the dilemma. My daughter has a bit of a temper, at times (from where she gets that I have no idea) so I’m proud of her that she’s realized that she can’t get coerced into retaliating every time this other girl attempts to frazzle her. And I’m proud that she recognizes the fact that she’s inherited, from someone in the family, a gene that might cause her to smack this girl upside the head, and she’s made a conscious effort not to do so.
But there’s a little-known song by my country favorite, Trace Adkins, that says (paraphrasing) that it’s good to practice sel-restraint, but “you have to whoop a man’s ass sometimes.”
While I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to resort to physical retaliation (it wouldn’t be a fair fight), how much does a kid have to take before she strikes back?
The perpetrator in all of this already has been called down to the counselor’s office to discuss her behavior; an appointment to which she did not show up. Of course, my daughter and friends reported for their discussions with the counselor as requested. It’s pretty apparent that the administration won’t do anything further until something bad happens. I’m not sure if they’re inept, hapless or clueless.
We hear all this talk about bullying. Bully, smully. Back in the day, someone would take this little instigator, put her up against a locker and either rough her up a bit or scare the crap out of her. Maybe even stuff her INTO the locker and leave her there until the custodian found her around dinner time. Most likely, she’d get the message and she’d either straighten up or she’d just leave and go somewhere else and bother kids at another school.
Unfortunately, you can’t do that nowadays. A teenager could do jail time for such actions. So I’m not sure what advice I can give my daughter, other than to avoid any contact (even though they have classes together) and to ignore the other girl’s complete stupidity and immaturity.
I’m not sure how long my daughter’s patience will last, but that appears to be our only course of action at the moment.
P.S. Don’t forget to tell your daughter that you love her.