I remember the first time I heard someone call my child “Stupid”.  My child, the one who had never had an unkind word spoken over her in her life. (This was before the arrival of siblings.  Boy, was that a game changer.) 

I remember the questioning tilt of her head, brown curls against grey sky, and I remember that word, that awful word “Stupid”.  It felt like my stomach was turning inside out, and I might cry, and if I could just get to a bar of soap fast enough I would show that child and his mouth a thing or two about stupid. 

I remember it like it was yesterday, but it wasn’t yesterday, and there have been other words and wounds in the years since.  And I tell you, every time, my reaction is the same.  Only now I can’t say “How about we go home?” or “If I were that kid’s mother I’d….” because she knows better.  She knows that a bar of soap won’t do her any good, and that the only words that matter are her own. 


  • Kids can be so cruel, and nothing hurts a mother more than for someone to hurt our children. I think of the words of Agatha Christie: “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes
    down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”

  • i know that feeling all too well and it is so hard to watch it happen. i remember back to my school days and look at what school days are like now, saddened by the fact that the mean girls now emerge in kindergarten, ready to pounce on some beautiful, unsuspecting child and just the thought of it breaks my heart.

  • deb

    it is such a cruel world,
    in among the beauty, all that ugly.

    and I think you are right, we need to help our kids take the high road. by sometimes taking it ourselves. been there.

  • Suz

    Children can be so mean. But as long as what you express to her is more important than the cruel words of her peers, she will be OK.
    As my mother used to tell me (which I never believed but appreciated anyway) “they’re just jealous.”

    By the way, she is a beautiful girl.

  • If only I had a mom like you maybe I wouldn’t be so emotionally scarred back then. 🙂 I went to Gotwals Elem, the ghetto of all the elem schools in the N-town school district (as non-Gotwals students and parents of students consider it to be). Well, needless to say being Asian with very poor English skills (at the time) only lead to the most hideous of all name callings. It’s funny how these words are picked up first.

    Hope running has been going well there for ya!

  • Robin Mini

    Kim… I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. This entry has touched me the most. My oldest just entered the 4th grade and it has been hard for me to watch, especially since I’m with her every day at school. I have found that other parents can really be just as cruel and the behavior seems to be learned. I’m reading the book Odd Girl Out. It seems to help take the edge off the pain of it all.