Today, my kids and I had a terrible morning. So I went to their school and had lunch with them (they were fine and barely remembered the screaming match they had carried from the garage, thru the car-ride, and out to the carpool line). But while in the school cafeteria, the girl sitting next to my kid alternated between talking to her girl-friends and covering her ears while a little boy talked at her. Now, I could not hear the boy’s words, but I plainly saw the little girl with her fingers in her ears trying desperately not to hear him. The first time, I thought, “Huh. Well, kids will be kids.” After the second incident, I thought, “I really need to say something.” But the little boy had gone, so I could only address the victim — but the last thing I wanted to do was make her think the boy’s teasing was her fault, so it was several minutes before managed I to ask “Was that boy bothering you? What’s up with that?” She said, “Oh, he just says crazy stuff.”
Really? Well, the end of the conversation was the standard “If he is bothering you, tell someone. If you don’t want to tell a teacher, tell me. I’ll tell someone.”
That was eight hours ago.
Ten hours ago, a friend of mine was telling me that she needs to loose weight. It’s such a common thing for women to say (I’ve said myself for many years) that I actually gave her some weight-loss ideas.
And now, at day’s end, I’m re-capping my day and it occurred to me that I should have done more to empower these women. I should have said: “You are beautiful. You don’t need to put up with boys saying stuff you don’t want to hear. You don’t need to loose weight. You’re too beautiful for that.”
To the girl at school: You are a pretty girl. Be proud of who you are. You should not duck your head unless someone is hurling a fist or other weapon at you. You and your friends should stick up for each other. Stand proud. Use your words (“Stop saying mean things” or “Leave me alone”). Get help when needed. And remember: You are not alone.
To my friends who want to loose a few pounds: You are beautiful. Just the way you are, you are beautiful. Right now, this minute. You are beautiful and I love you. Unless you are actually unhealthy, you do not “need” to loose weight. But if you want to anyway, do it safely (and come run with me). Because you are my friend and I love you.