A little voice pipes up from the back seat. It is my oldest daughter; she is upset because a girl at school made fun of her front teeth.
According to this wretched little urchin, my daughter's front teeth stick out to much.
What makes me so sad is that usually, my daughter is a rough and tumble kid, hardly noticing what she is wearing, let alone what her teeth look like, until now.
Now, she is concerned that her teeth stick out to much, based on a comment this little Orthodontist wanna-be.
Now, we have had her to the dentist and the dentist was not overly concerned. These are after all, her baby teeth. We decide to wait until after the permanent teeth come in, so with that course of action plotted we didn't give her teeth a second thought.
That is until some little brat started giving my daughter a hard time about them.
At this point in time, I am searching for some soothing thing to say, something that will make my daughter feel instantly better.
At times like this, I wish I had a more religious background.
Whether you agree with the fundamental principles of religion or not, you have to admit that being able to whip out some teachable moment from the bible is pretty cool. Even if you can't pull out a teachable moment, there is some psalm or another that would make everything right.
Those of us who aren't overly religious flounder for some other way to put the whole moment into perspective. Because hugs and kisses don't fix these types of emotional boo-boos.
Alas, the best I can come up with is that this particular little girl is a vicious little booger.
Okay, I didn't actually say that, though I really, really wanted to, because I hate mean girls, and mean boys too for that matter.
Unfortunately, the mean kids outnumber the nice kids and the mean kids grow up to be mean adults. Yeah, I don't have the greatest view of humanity, so what?
Of course, my attitude colors how I see this particular comment made to my daughter, so I struggle mightily to keep my response G rated (and it was a struggle).
In fact, at this point I wanted to call into play the little girl's parentage, was she perhaps descended from wolves and I was on my way to speculating whether this child's head perhaps resided somewhere other then her neck.
Realizing that this probably wasn't the most helpful, I switched to my usual standby, which is to remark that the kid in question is an idiot.
I know that all little kids are cruel.
Yet, you have to wonder, why. To me there is a difference between saying something you are thinking, as kids are prone to doing and going on about someone's appearance, solely to make them feel bad. This little kid knew exactly what she was saying and how she was hurting my daughter, I have no doubts about that.
Therefore, as a parent, you try to bolster your kids self esteem. An effort, which you know deep in your heart, will not work.
It doesn't work because kids never believe what their parents tell them, because the opinion of the kid at school is move valuable then their parents.
You can tell them how wonderful they are until you are blue in the face and they will choose to believe the asshat at school who tells them that they are a loser.
As a parent, you constantly battle against what other kids are saying or telling your kids. It is a Herculean task to make your kids critical thinkers and give them thick skins without turning them into the aforementioned mean kids.
The critical thinking skills are necessary because in kidville there is always some jackass telling tall tales and spreading rumors. You have to educate your kids to think critically about everything that comes out of another kid's mouth.
Kids need a thick skin because, yes, there is always some kid willing to say something derogatory about your kid.
Soon enough my kids will be old enough to curse and we can refer to these people as assholes and that is all the wisdom they will need.
Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.
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