Shaping Our Shadows: The Power of a Parent

We found ourselves established into a new “old,” routine one month at our new duty station. We dealt with the usual not sleeping through the night, getting to know our new surroundings learning process, but nothing seemed terribly amiss.

On a Tuesday in September, my 6-year-old walked to greet me after school with a less than jubilant spring in her step. I asked her about her day, hoping to discover the source for her discontent but nothing out of the ordinary was discussed. We went home and while carrying a basket of laundry to put away I heard a faint sob from her room. I went in and hugged a visibly hurt little girl. Almost immediately she asked me, “Can I please wear a dress to school tomorrow?” Confused I said, “Yes, of course, but why are you sad?”

The next two minutes would have a lasting imprint on my thoughts. “Because when I wear pants with a button (jeans), sometimes my belly hangs over when I sit down at my desk…pretty girls don’t have belly lumps. Dresses don’t let everyone see my lump.”

Immediately my heart filled with sadness and rage…a bully. I’ve never had to deal with a bully, but I felt the textbook rage and urge to show up on the principal’s doorstep. “Who told you about belly lumps?” I asked her.

“You did mom,” she said between breaths.

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