All was quiet in the house, but I could hear the chorus of voices coming from the yard next door. A foot and a half of snow combined with a day off from school meant the biggest snowball fight of the season. From my kitchen window, it appeared that every child in the neighborhood between the ages of six and fourteen were wailing on each other with some of the largest balls of wet, icy snow I had seen since Christmas. Laughter, shouts, and cries of victory filled the crisp air and echoed off surrounding mountains.
Happiness prevailed until my daughter burst through the back door and collapsed in my arms. Water poured from her soggy snow pants almost as quickly as tears ran from her eyes. Her face shone with the redness that comes from below freezing temperatures; however, I could see the beginnings of a lumpy whitish mark forming on her cheek – the footprint of an ice-ball.
In between sobs, she told the tale of the older boys bringing the younger children to their knees with a snowball assault campaign that would make the United States Marine Corps proud.
“They kept hitting us in the face and they hurt me.” She managed to squeak out between sniffs, sobs, and wiping her slimy nose on my sweater.
Although I felt badly that my daughter’s cheek was swelling with a peer induced welt, I knew there was a lesson at stake. One she could learn in the snow and perfect on the playground; a lesson that could potentially shape the course of her life.
I looked into her eyes and asked the seemingly heartless question, “Did you tell them to stop throwing snow in your face and hurting the younger kids or did you just start crying and run inside?”
Her answer was a mixture of “Well, they…” and “I’m hurt…” and “They won’t listen.” The look on her face was pathetic enough to make my heart melt and want to protect her forever; however, I knew that even in the second grade, I am not always present to fight her battles. If she is to be heard in life, she needs to find her own voice.
“But did you tell them that they were hurting you and that they needed to stop?” I clarified.
I already knew the answer was no. My daughter is only learning the sound of her voice and faced with the challenges of snowball armed tweens, hers is weak at best.
“I’ll go outside and talk to them today, but next time you need to use your own voice and tell them to stop hurting you before you run inside to get me. Deal?” I offered.
She nodded her tear-stained face and her flower-power fleece cap fell over an eye. I went outside to exercise my voice, loud from years of overuse. The youngsters silently smiled at my tirade against the older kids.
Later that week while my daughter and I sat at the kitchen table with vanilla wafers and milk, she told me the tale of the playground.
“I stood up for myself today and for my friends too.” She proudly stated.
I encouraged her to elaborate. It seems a boy was being mean at lunch and my daughter told him that he wasn’t being nice and he needed to stop.
“And did he stop?” I asked hopefully.
“Yes! And he left us alone.” My daughter happily giggled. “Then my friends came over and gave me a big hug.”
My heart swelled with joy for my daughter’s small victory and pride at her courage. She found her voice near the swing set and with practice, I know it will become louder and stronger. She’ll come to love the sound of her voice and I’ll feel better knowing that she can stand up for herself.
Second grade playground problems may not be very important, but one day soon those same children will be seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen. Their problems will transform from snowball squabbles to decisions that can alter their future. The sound of a little girl’s voice may just save her from a lifetime of sorrow.
I don’t want to fix all my children’s problems, because I would be doing them a disservice. I want to equip them with the tools necessary to make good choices, stand up for themselves, and let their voice be heard and headed.
I pray that my daughter’s sweet voice grows stronger with every snowball.
What a wonderful post! My daughter is 2 and this is one of the biggest things that I worry about. It took me so long to find my voice (and at times I feel like I am still struggling to find it). What a wonderful lessen you gave to so many of us! 😉 Thanks
Christina Ashby says
thank you for this… it was just what i needed for my daughter
sue diamond-phillips says
That was beautiful.
Wow! God has blessed you with awesome wisdom, FringeGirl!
I wouldn’t have handled it so well.
JD @ Honest Mom says
” pray that my daughter’s sweet voice grows stronger with every snowball.”
Oh, this is lovely. What a great post. I can see why it’s your have post for TLATLB.
I have two daughters and giving them confidence and helping them find their voices is a main goal of Hubs and me. You just showed how simple achieving this goal can be sometimes.
I’m so happy your daughter got it. Some kids have the personality to pull it off and others don’t. Your advised stuck in her ear and she took it with her and found her voice. Awesome
debbie york says
Atta girl…both of you!
If the PTB want to know one way to help stop schoolyard bullying…they need to read this.
Sarah Cannell says
Excellent!!! Thanks for sharing
(Also glad Mr. Fringeman talked you out of it. This stuff is too good!)
Beautiful. I say this to my daughter all the time. I know she does well without me, but when I am there it is harder for her to handle things on her own. I love this reminder to keep encouraging that voice.
(p.s. so glad your hubby talked you out of it. your blog is one of my faves.)
Well that is just wonderful. I think second grade playground feuds are very important actually. They are what teach us how to treat people, how to work as a team, how to get along, and how to solve problems. Sounds like you have a very clever and brave girl. Good for her!!
Tori Nelson says
Beautifully written, and a great lesson to pass on to your kids! Love this post!
I just love this. Glad you re-posted. We all need the reminder. And I find it quite appropriate that you encourage us to use our voice on MLK Day. Amen! ~Mindy
Such important lessons in this one. I loved it!
Curse word warning….Hell, Yea! You did sooo good! And so did she! High five from Texas! Do you drink? I’ll do a shot of Jack Daniels with you any day. Let our voices be heard! *wink* ~Mindy
the inadvertent farmer says
Great job mom! It is oh so hard as a mom not to run and fix all our kids’ problems but that teaches them nothing about being advocates for themselves…good work!
rebecca d says
I left you a little something on my blog…
I’m so glad you shared this story–as a mom of children only a few years younger–I am learning from your victories! And even though I’ve never met your daughter, I’m smiling so wide, welling up with pride for the girl who found her voice.
Now THAT is a life skill!
Hallelujah. Someone gets it.
I’m sending this to young mothers I know and love…
Dani Joy says
This is a printable! Great lessons and great teaching! I have this on a daily basis wit my boys. They are in Karate but WE want them using their voices not just their punches. Gettting boys to talk sometimes is next to stopping WWII.
wonderful story! good job momma!
What a powerful lesson! Thank you for sharing – I will have this story in the back of my mind the first time my future children are encouraged to use their own voice.
That was such an awesome way to teach a lesson! Bravo! Could you maybe cover for me when I go to Boston next month? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought of that one!!!!
Argh! I’m already feeling overwhelmed about how I am going to protect my children and at the same time equip them to handle life on their own and they are only a three year old and a five month old. I pray every day that they will learn to make wise life choices. Can a mother worry to much? Thanks for a beautiful post, I appreciate your candor and wisdom.
Way to go Fringe Kid!!! Way to teach ’em mama!
Excellent!! Well done!!! You wise woman!!!
Wonderful. It’s important to teach our kids that they don’t have to be victims. I hope she keeps “practicing.”
mrs mediocrity says
You taught your daughter perhaps the most important lesson she will ever learn…I probably would have just marched outside and yelled at the older kids…what you did was much, much better.
Patti Lacy says
What a beautiful post, FringeGirl. I love both your momma’s heart and your writer’s voice. You are amazing.
BTW, Mary DeMuth’s memoir covers this issue.
What a good and wise mother! That little girl is so cute.
Hat Chick says
Awesome! You go fringegirl!
Here is another page…
Bravo! I always love hearing about a mother who refuses to fix everything for their children. What a beautiful lesson you taught her in speaking up.