I know it appears that I have abandoned my blog, but I have NOT abandoned my cause. Next post will be a catch up of all my Brazilian accomplishments.
But first… mean girls.
Friday I went with my daughter to a birthday party. This party was extravagant in a different, very cool way. The party was held at a shop called The Craft Studio.
A little house on a nearly deserted street in Higienopolis, the space was what I imagine would look like if Martha Stewart and Rachel Ashwell became lesbian lovers, adopted orphaned girls and bought a weekend house together.
My daughter was overwhelmed by the place and the party. She could barely contain herself and chatted incessantly about what was around her – in English. I encouraged her to speak Portuguese, which she did with the other girls. But she was mostly talking to me, so she mostly spoke in English. She was the youngest there by at least a year. There had to be at least twenty girls in the 5 to 6+ year range and another ten in another room that were a couple years older (friends of the birthday girl’s older sister).
Of course, my daughter attracted attention. All the girls go to a Brazilian school, but one in which they spend half the day learning in English. Despite this, very few of the younger crowd could utter more than a few words of English. Although a few were very sweet and excited to speak English with us and show me things.
So they all ate mini hot dogs and sandwiches on cute little colored plates. Then came the really fun part. Each of them got a dollhouse to decorate. Each. Each one. A big one. Seriously. To take home.
So we sat down at a table of four little stools, four huge doll houses and three other girls and began to work. Two girls were 6-years-old if not a bit older. The one next to us was probably 5.
After a good 15 minutes, I recognized that the two older girls across from us were making comments about my daughter. This soon accelerated into mean looks and then they told the little girl next to us not to interact with us. My daughter remained totally clueless and totally, giddily engaged in the project.
About 20 minutes later, I think the girls asked to be moved away from us. The owner came by and made some excuse and then put the girls in a space in the front. Thankfully, my daughter still had no clue about what was going on and continued to have a blast decorating the house.
But eventually, this wasn’t good enough for these little monsters. They came up and said something, and then my daughter said to me, “That girl said she doesn’t like me.”
Well, that was it for me. I was so shocked that these girls would act like that when a parent was around! I yelled at the one who said it, “Vai! Vai agora!” And she scooted off. But it was time for us to go.
I told the mother that we were leaving and she asked us not to go until they sang “Parabems” for her daughter. But then I told her what was happening and how I didn’t want my daughter, who kept calling out “This is the best birthday party ever!” have this wonderful experience turn sour.
The mother went bananas. She asked me to point out the girls. I told her it didn’t matter, but she insisted. So then I gleefully pointed out the girls and she did everything but pick them up by their necks and shake them to death. It was awesome.
This was my first experience with mean girls in Brazil. I’d hear about it from friends, but now I know first hand. Of course, there are mean girls in the U.S. too. Like most of us, I’d had my own experiences as a child. But I’d never before felt such an urge to beat the crap out of a kid as I did that afternoon.
Why was my child the target? Two reasons:
1. Her mother was there.
This may seem like a reason for kids NOT to go after other kids. But you have to understand that many Brazilian moms do not spend a lot of time with their children. I’d put money on the fact that these girls do not get a lot of mom time. So they observing me having fun with my daughter was a painful point for them.
2. We were speaking English.
Despite the fact that these girls should be speaking fluently at this point, they don’t. Why parents bother to spend the money on schools that give the kids an English experience without actually valuing the language is beyond me. One of the brats actually said that she didn’t like English. So, I’m guessing that because my daughter spoke fluent English was another reason to be jealous.
The mother texted me that night to apologize and tell me that she spoke to the girls’ parents. While I got some satisfaction from this, I also figured that it was probably the parents who created these monsters in the first place.
When I left my career to be with my daughter, I gave up a lot. I gave up my professional identity. I gave up the ability to buy and do pretty much whatever I fancied. I gave up the security of not having to eat out of garbage cans when I’m old. I gave up the ability to go somewhere and shut the door. But I wouldn’t trade that decision. I’ve never regretted it for a moment because I know who my daughter is, how she acts (not always lovely all the time, but at least I know it) and what she is doing with most of her day. I realize there are a lot of mothers who are not in a position to quit their jobs. But I know a lot of other mothers that are more worried about buying that beach house or putting their kids in designer clothes than about how their offspring spend their days. And even more Brazilian mothers who don’t work and still don’t spend time with their children because they have babás to teach them the daily lessons of life, like morals and kindness. I was lucky. My mom was there when I got home from school every day. And while she had four kids, there was always someone to tell if I had a bad day and someone in turn to tell me I was great. It makes a difference.
What’s really sad is while my daughter was over-the-top overjoyed about being there and getting to experience such a great party, these girls could have cared less and seemed to be neither enjoying nor appreciating any of it. I don’t think kids, aside from the occasional bad seed or spawn of Satan, get mean on their own. I think jealousy, frustration and people being mean to them, whether it is their babá or their parents, make them mean.
One mean girl I interacted with as a child eventually shared how rough her life had been and how her mean mother was still effecting her. Sure, not an excuse, but certainly an ingredient.
I’m not judging. I’m just saying that I don’t think parents really realize how much their decisions impact their children, or how much gets lost when they are not around.
I know that little girls are mean. My daughter was none the wiser in this situation that she was being attacked. But some day her feelings will be hurt. Or worse yet, she might learn to be a mean girl too. But I’ll be damned if I let her get away with it. And beware little Brazilian mean girls. I’m already scanning the internet to find ways to place hexes on you.