Excuse the blurry picture of Peanut and me. It may be blurry, but it's also one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. It was also taken after the summer, when I had a little color to my cheeks that wasn't put there by make-up. Man, I can't wait to get my tan on this summer!
But, I digress.
That is a picture of Peanut and me. Happy. About to enjoy an evening of watching volleyball, which is Peanut's sport of choice to play and one of my favorite sports to watch.
Which happens to be one of the MANY things Peanut and I have in common.
In fact, you could say that Peanut and I were most definitely carved from the same cloth. She is my Mini-Me in every way. From our similar looks, our similar personalities, and our similar sense of humor. If we weren't mother and daughter, we'd basically be twins.
I recently shared that Peanut was having some issues at school. Issues with some kids not being very nice to her or some of her friends. And, Peanut being the girl that she is, feels like it's her responsibility to do something about it. Emerge as a leader, a voice, for those being victimized and try and stop all the hate and hurt.
Her living motto is "Why can't we all just get along?"
Which, even though she doesn't use those words, does use that mentality.
She's tried confronting those girls that are causing drama, tried apologizing to them (even though she has absolutely nothing to apologize for), and her attempts have been met with laughter and even MORE scrutiny.
And, she now knows in her heart that she may not be able to fix anything. She may just have to live each day and leave it all behind. Try and not worry about it. Ignore it. And, just be the bigger person without using any form of retaliation.
A comment was made about her yesterday that "She's not all innocent in all of this". That hurt my feelings. No, I don't suppose she is completely innocent. I'm sure she's said a few nasty things in the heat of the moment. I'm sure she's tried to "rally the troops" by reminding them of what's being said about them. But, before casting judgement upon my daughter, I ask that you take some time to read some of the Facebook messages she's received JUST because she's friends with a guy that has a girlfriend. See some of the nasty things said about her for no reason whatsoever, other than her wanting to have guy friends. And, please, listen to some of the nasty things that adults have even said about her because yes, like her mother, she has a mouth on her and will use it when she feels attacked.
What makes it harder for Peanut is the fact that she is a social floater. She likes to be friends with EVERYONE. Not selecting a strict set of kids to only be friends with. She likes to try and be friends with the jocks, the popular kids, the studious kids, the "too cool for school" kids, the "mean girls", the band kids, and any other type of clique that gathers at school.
She has a close nit of friends that she considers her "best friends" but it's important to her to be socially accepted and involved with all of the cliques at school. She wants to be a friend to everyone that will let her.
Which is why it's so hard on her when a select few kids (the "mean girls") make that difficult for her. When they find fault, make accusations about her, and spread vicious rumors about her without solid reason to. And, then, it's even harder for Peanut to comprehend when the kids she's made an effort to befriend turn their back on her because they "don't want to get involved".
Ah, the life of an 8th grader. So hard.
Yet, it is music to my ears when I hear my own daughter declare "It's OK, Mom, none of this will matter ten years from now. It will be stupid kid stuff."
Yet, it stings a little when she follows it up with "I just wish people would quit telling me that, though, because even though it won't matter ten years from now, it matters NOW. And I want my childhood to be filled with good memories."
The sad truth is, though, it really won't be much different when she's older. She will run in to the same problems, the same cliques, the same issues of rumors and derogatory statements made.
I know, because I've dealt with it myself throughout my adult years.
I've worked in restaurants, retail, offices, schools...and each place has their set of "cliques". In my experience, offices, retail, and schools are by far the worst when it comes to that stuff, though.
There are the adult jocks, the popular adults, the studious adults, the "too cool for work" adults, the "mean girls", the band adults, and other type of cliques that gather around the water fountain or in the break room.
I'm sure, if you've worked in a large office environment or school or anyplace that has more than 5 employees, you've seen them.
The group of guys that sit around on break discussing the latest sporting events and games.
The group of "populars" that sit around and talk about their latest shopping excursion, or their beach vacation they're planning, or the plans for that weekend's BFF night out.
The group of people that hardly ever take breaks, and remain at their desk getting all their work done, taking on extra projects, and doing everything in their power to get noticed somehow in order to score that promotion.
The group that do nothing but complain about their jobs, how lame the new changes are, and make sure everyone knows how much they'd much rather be ANY other place but working.
The group of women that sit around whispering their gossip to each other, laughing and pointing and staring at others as they walk by.
The group that's talking about the latest bands playing downtown that weekend, or when their bands will be getting together to practice.
You all know you know people that fit in to some or all of those groups... right now, as adults. It's OK, you can admit it, as you read those words there were people that popped in to your brain to fit those descriptions.
And, like my daughter, I have that desire to try and be friendly with all of those groups.
Maybe Peanut has been given my cursed gene of wanting nothing more than to just fit in. Maybe we are both insecure. Maybe we try too hard to please others, and care WAY too much about what other people think of us.
Thankfully, both Peanut and I do have our close friends. Those people that we can turn to, no matter what, and talk to. But, it doesn't appease our desire to still be socially accepted by everyone, and for the vicious rumors and nasty whispering in the hallways to stop.
I know there are lots of people that don't like me. I'm OK with that. Do I find myself wondering why and puzzled as to what I've done to cause the whispering and stares and dirty looks? Sure. But, thanks to the support of my close friends, I'm learning to let that go...move on...and try to not let it consume me.
Which is what I'm currently trying to instill in to Peanut.
Haters gonna hate.
It's what they do...maybe to feel better about themselves, maybe because they think there's valid reason to make our lives miserable, maybe because they have nothing better to do than to entertain themselves with spreading lies and hate. Whatevs. I guess there will never be a way to fix it... we both have to realize this and move on with our lives.
At the end of the day, we do have each other. She can come to me and cry, and scream, and yell, and let out all of her frustrations. I can share similar experiences and help her try and figure out the best course of action.
She knows that I can relate. She's heard my own stories. And, she knows that even though I went through similar situations in school and still face similar situations as an adult, life is still good for me. I am happy, healthy, and have learned how to look those people in the eye and give them a mental flip of the bird while still keeping that sweet, innocent smile on my face.
Because, in reality, life doesn't get easier. It gets harder. We just figure out ways to cope as we get older.
Yesterday was a tough day for me. Which is reason for today's post. I got a hard slap of rejection, that took its toll on me. Thankfully, I had E to turn to and vent to and I needed her to tell me to get over it. Which I did.
What I've discovered, in times such as this one, is to move on. Leave the negativity behind. Find and embrace new opportunities and adventures. Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side.
I have had some opportunities presented to me in the past couple of months. Opportunities that have left some uncertainty looming... should I? Can I? Will I?
And, I've learned that those opportunities require gut and heart decisions.
Reading instruction not going the way I'd like. Hmmmm. If I change my approach, I might cause some upset within my grade level. Should I risk it? Can I make it work? Will I follow my gut instinct or just hope it all works itself out?
An opportunity to use a game like Minecraft in my classroom. Hmmm. If I decide to take on the project, it might cause some strain to my schedule and require a lot more work on my end to make it beneficial. Should I risk it? Can I prove that the extra work and time constraints are worth it? Will I be able to get the results I'm looking for?
There's a possibility of moving up a grade level next year. Hmmm. If I move to a different grade level, it might be hard to fit in somewhere else and might upset my current team. Should I risk it? Can I have better success with an older set of kids? Will I be able to teach more along the lines of how I WANT to teach, rather than how I'm expected to teach?
All three scenarios have been festering inside.
Yet, my gut told me that my students come first and I'm going to do what I think is BEST for them.
My gut told me that my kids would LOVE to play Minecraft, and the extra work will most definitely be worth it because they will show the payoff would be BEST for them.
And, even though nothing is set in stone, I think I'm ready for a change. Because I think being in a higher grade would be BEST for the students that I teach.
This is the lesson I'm trying to teach Peanut. Do what is BEST.
Nothing in life will ever be easy. There will always be choices to make that are hard. There will always be scrutiny, rumors, naysayers, and "Mean girls". But, life is really about how you make it.
Find those friends that are there for you through EVERYTHING. Hold on to them. Never let them go. Confide in them, trust their advice.
Let go of those that are not your true friends. Still be friendly. Still be a friend. But, don't let their actions or words harm you. Continue to float around, but don't let your feelings get hurt when you realize they are NOT your true friends. And, if they try and make your life hard, just give them the mental flip of the bird, but KEEP THE SMILE ON YOUR FACE. Remember MY Motto? Kill them with kindness!!
And LIVE IN THE MOMENT.
Our lives are carved by the decisions WE make, not the decisions pushed on us. We create our happiness, we create our sadness. So, stay on the right side of the path. If we do happen to stray off the course of happiness, find the nearest shortcut back.
STOP CARING SO MUCH ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF US!
At the end of the day, all that matters is what WE think of US. If we're OK with our decisions, our life, our choices...then, again, mind flip the bird to anyone who disagrees, and keep a friendly smile on our faces.
We're gonna be OK, kid, cause we have each other and people that really care about us. The rest can just blow away with the wind.