My Daughter Was Afraid…

…and I couldn’t do anything about it.

[UPDATE!!! See below]

This post has taken me a long time to write. Maybe it’s been germinating but I think it has been festering. The week before Christmas we received a call from the school nurse informing us that our daughter was involved in a playground incident. She was playing tag and didn’t want to keep playing and a boy, we’ll call him, Buddy, became angry and started hitting and kicking her. He even attacked the teacher who tried to stop it. Needless to say she was quite shaken up but they assured us she was okay. They said we didn’t need to get her, so we just sat there in shock. How could this happen to our innocent little girl? What made Buddy attack her like that? Why is this happening in first grade? We felt helpless, angry, and perplexed. Why would anyone want to hurt our daughter?

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting her you’ll agree that she’s awesome. I’m a bit biased but take my word for it. She’s fun, beautiful, kind, and very smart. Here are some pictures that are worth a thousand words.


Buddy was suspended for five days, we had the week off after Christmas, and honestly the incident didn’t come up and we figured it was over. We were wrong. On the third day back, we got an email from her teacher. Buddy was back in school and Ainslie was scared to be around him. He was making threatening faces so they were keeping him away from the other kids. The next day our daughter chose to stay inside and even talked to the social worker about her feelings.

The school staff has done a great job in dealing with this situation. We’re trying to work through this with our daughter, but it’s been a slow process. We’ve tried our best to assure her that her feelings are normal but she needs to move past the fear and trust that she’ll be safe at school. It wasn’t her fault. We explained to her that Buddy lashed out likely due to some other things going on that we probably won’t ever know about. We feel badly and are concerned about him too. But what a drag for a first grader to not want to play with her friends! I get upset even writing about it. It’s maddening to see her spirit crushed and at such a young age.

So, how will this turn out? I’m optimistic and I know that my daughter will be okay. She’s already thinking of ways to be kind to Buddy, and might have found her Prince Charming. This other boy stood up for her, punched Buddy in the belly, and got in front of her during the incident. He’ll have to wait about 20 years if he wants a chance, but he has a head start on other suitors.

Have you had to deal with bullies? How would you deal with this?

[UPDATE 1/17/12]

Ainslie came home today and told us that “Buddy” apologized to her and she forgave him! Then they talked about how his mom just had a baby boy and that he has to be careful with the baby’s head. Ainslie was able to share that her mom is about to have a baby too.

She told us she felt better in her heart and isn’t afraid anymore. Her “prince charming” heard about this and was confused why Ainslie forgave Buddy, it was a novel concept! Wow, I was floored since it’s second nature in our family as we teach our kids that when they receive an apology they offer forgiveness. I was extra proud of my daughter that she was able to explain this concept to her friend. And the best part, all afternoon and evening she was in a great mood as if a huge burden was lifted.

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Comments: 13

  1. Dan February 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm Reply

    Sweet! I read this initially when you first posted it, but I missed the update…which is the best part! I love it when our kids have those authentic moments – usually I end up learning from it as much as they do.

  2. Oma January 20, 2012 at 10:45 am Reply

    So proud of my granddaughter and such a great example of Jesus’ love! Keep Making a Difference one kid at a time—You are special!

  3. Aaron January 18, 2012 at 9:27 am Reply

    Wow, rough times, man! :( My son is getting ready to start school this fall and things like this scare me; I was bullied in elementary school and found the administrators to be mostly unhelpful, and my parents didn’t have much help either (in retrospect, I understand that it can be difficult for an adult, who has a much more vast view of the world, to grasp how big the microcosm of school is for a kid). It’s good that your daughter was able to talk with people at the school and with you and your spouse; and even better that she was able to resolve the conflict with him.

    My first guess was that he “liked” her but didn’t know how to express that in an appropriate way (maybe that’s still the case?). Glad that she was able to resolve it with him peacefully. :)

  4. janulee January 18, 2012 at 9:01 am Reply

    Yup! Our God is in control!!! I would be so proud of my little girl, too. You are great parents. Incidentally, I did not know you were expecting again. Congratulations!!!!! When is the new one due? Boy or Girl?

    • Nathan January 18, 2012 at 9:15 am Reply

      Thanks. I guess you missed the post back in October when we announced it to the world. Check it out here.

  5. MHA January 18, 2012 at 12:05 am Reply

    I hadn’t seen the original post, but what an encouraging update! I already knew Ainslie’s a pretty awesome kid, but her reactions today say a lot about her and her awesome parents.

  6. Melissa Luznicky Garrett January 14, 2012 at 8:39 am Reply

    It sounds like your daughter is a very compassionate little girl and that she has a lot of loving, supportive people on her side. :-D

    My son, who has Asperger’s, was bullied all last year by three different boys. One of the boys even said to him, “No one likes you, so why don’t you just kill yourself?” My son was 9 at the time.

    Thankfully the principal and social worker intervened, and measures were taken to make sure my son was at least physically safe. Still, the verbal bullying continued off and on to the point we had to seek outside private counseling. He was depressed and anxious, and he cried *all the time*. By chance, all three boys moved away at the beginning of this school year, and my son is having a *much* better year. But he still talks about those boys, and I’m sure he will never forget them.

    • Nathan January 14, 2012 at 8:49 am Reply

      Thanks for sharing about your son. It’s been encouraging to know we’re doing the right thing and sounds like you are as well.

  7. Alaina Wiens January 13, 2012 at 11:14 am Reply

    I won’t suggest that every little girl who gets bullied travels the same road, but I will tell you that I was very much where your daughter was many times when I was young. I was the “easy target” (as my parents informed me) for most of my elementary school years. The bus stop, the school bus, the playground, friends’ houses–no place was safe. It wasn’t always violent like what your daughter’s experienced, but at times it was. And, like your daughter, I was often afraid of being in situations where I’d become the target again. I was shy, withdrawn, and scared of the world… for a short time.

    There is good news, though. At least there was for me. The first bit is that as I got older and got involved with caring, nurturing people, I realized that my childhood bullies were not “the world.” I’m so encouraged by how supportive you and your wife are being. I can’t tell you how much hearing “it’s not your fault” can really matter. And with such a great support system, your daughter will be so much more likely to realize that the world is not full of bullies. I have no doubt that she’ll get her footing again soon.

    The other bit of silver lining in my situation was this: Those childhood years of being called names, picked on, kicked, hit, tricked, and taunted contributed a bit to my character. I’ve got more empathy than I know what to do with. And the process of realizing I was more than an easy target really taught me to be comfortable with who I am. I know that I am strong and worthwhile, no matter what some small-minded person might say or do to me.

    My heart hurts for you and your little girl, but I am just sure that this is just a small bump in your daughter’s road. She’s lucky to have such great parents and teachers, and she has a good heart. No bully can take that away. I hope she feels more comfortable at school again, soon!

    • Nathan January 13, 2012 at 11:30 am Reply

      Thanks for sharing and the encouragement. Sometimes it feels that as parents we aren’t doing enough, just goes to show that we also need to be reminded that it’s not our fault.

  8. janulee January 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm Reply

    I got teased (not bullied) as a child because I was very long-legged, very skinny and had big teeth and glasses that looked like the bottom of coke bottles. I remember my mother always telling me, not to be hurt because they were just jealous of me…..I could never figure out why they would be jealous of such an ugly little girl. I have a photo of me at that age. I WAS ugly….haha. I vaguely remember running home from school through the snow (Wisc) scared because boys for chasing me, and I know I blocked out some other happening. It left me being afraid of people even into my adult years, and never feeling like I was acceptable, which I struggle with now and then, BUT after I met your parents, Nathan, and they led me to the Lord I started loving and accepting who I am because of His love for me. Sometimes it is a challenge but I am not the little scared girl anymore! Yes, what happens to you as a child at school is VERY impressionable. Because Ainslie has such warm and loving support from you and your wife, I would say that she will get through this incident without great damage to her little, sweet heart. I also learned, like Ainslie is doing, to be nicer to those who bully you, because they are always the ones that need it most! I will send up a special prayer for your beautiful daughter for a special healing in her broken heart and to learn to trust again.

    • Nathan January 13, 2012 at 8:22 am Reply

      Thanks for the comment and especially for the prayers.

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