I knew at the first parent and teacher conference of the year.
Emily has been having issues with one girl in her class. Emily wants this girl to like her...and this girl simply wants to hurt Emily's feelings.
The week before I had been in to speak with Em's teacher as the little girl had placed a rubber spider inside Emily's desk in order to frighten her. Emily, true to form, had flipped out and broken down in tears at the sight of the very fake spider.
This only encouraged the girl to target Em some more ala "Look, she makes exciting noises when I poke her!" What hurts Emily more is that a different girl that she has liked VERY much seems to have fallen under the sway of this future hoochie and has discarded Emily in favor of the allure of the bad girl.
The heartbreak of being ten. Emily is angry and jealous and longing for a best friend of her own.
At the parent-teacher night two weeks ago, I stayed last to have a long heart to heart with Emily's teacher. Frances has had Emily for two years now, so she has a good feel for the personality of my child.
"What worries me is that Emily keeps putting herself back in the line of fire of Demonic Hell Child. If DHC keeps bothering her, why does she keep going back? You know Dawn, some of it is the appeal of kids who "seem" like teenagers...and Emily is still a little girl. She is attracted to DHC because she acts like a teen, and Emily's heart is so tender that she can't figure out why they reject and tease her - she has no armor to protect her from that."
As a female, I remember. I remember being ten and wanting to be cool and grown up and knowing far more than I should for my age. By ten I had already smoked pot from a bong, and been sexually abused by my father. I had seen terrible fights between my parents in which shots were fired at the departing car by my father as my mother drove away with me in the back seat.
I suspect that I have kept Emily sheltered in a certain way, as I never wanted her to know about the harsh realities that sit outside ( and inside) the door. For all our disagreements about how to raise Emily - and they have been EPIC - Terrance and I have always been on the same page about this. Preserve her childhood.
I have been thinking about Frances' words since that meeting. I have waffled back and forth over my desire ( and sometimes my RIGHT, I assert angrily to myself in the middle of the night) to allow my child her extended childhood and my practical knowledge that I need to equip her for life among women. Life among children who have not had her space and time to be a child. Life as a teen where her peer group will supercede (naturally) her parents.
This Wednesday, it all reached a crisis point. Emily flipped out before and on the way to school, hyperventilating, because she didn't want DHC to be mean to her...and she lost a tooth.
In our house, the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny have remained large and in charge. She has repelled attempts by her peers to disabuse her of the notion of these magical entities.
Emily believed in Magic. And I encouraged that belief.
I crept into her bedroom that night. I replaced her tooth and her note with a toonie and a hairband token from the Tooth Fairy.
And I lay in bed awake, worrying about the teasing that she would endure at the hands of DHC tomorrow, when she proudly showed the toonie and the hair band left for her by the Tooth Fairy.