UPDATE below: My dd is facing some kids at school-- - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-30-2009, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 8yo came home all upset a couple of days ago. While she was in the car pick up line some kids were talking about the meaning of their names. When they asked her, she told them her name meant powerful goddess and was an Indian name. They argued that it was a Mexican name, and that she had "Mexican skin" and was not half-Indian. I have absolutely nothing against Mexicans and neither does dd, but she is not Mexican obviously, and this hurt her to be told she's something other than what she is. We live in an area with a large Spanish-speaking population from Mexican and other places including at her school. This school has a very diverse population of kids from all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds so you would think that these !@#$ girls would be more aware. Also, my dd was Star Student a couple weeks ago, which means she created a poster all about herself and in one of the sections she put a photo of herself in traditional Indian dress, and described her trip to India two summers ago. Anway, she then named off the other people in her family. We all have Indian names (I changed my first name when I married dh) and she explained their meanings, and the two girls who were being mean said that those names were also Mexican names. I went to the internet and printed out a story about the goddess she's named after and said put it in her backpack and she could show them at school the next day. She never showed them because it never came up again. It just makes me so mad. I just don't know how to handle this, but in addition to printing out the name thing, I told her those girls were just ignorant and didn't know as much as they thought they did, and how sad to go through life thinking that you know everything when you are actually wrong about a lot of stuff.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:57 AM
 
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I am so sorry. I cannot imagine how disturbing that might be. I was going to share my story but actually here it does not really apply. It is so hard to protect our children from racism. Humor helps but in this case I personally have a hard time thinking of a joke that does not belittle the children making fun of your daughter.

They are obviously threatened because they thought of her as Mexican, and she is not- this really throws a wrench in their whole worldview of "us vs. them", and also because she has such a rich culture to speak of. Not that Mexican children don't, but clearly these girls have already (sadly) learned to dismiss that culture. They have no derogatory terms for India or Indians and therefore, to dismiss the threat must group her with the Mexicans. How terribly sad.

I do not know how to deal with it but I feel so sad for your daughter and you and also for those children... what a pitiful way to grow up. :sob

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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Old 01-30-2009, 05:01 AM
 
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I just had a thought (after my initial vent) that perhaps if she considers those girls friends, she could invite them over for Indian meals and dinner with you and your DH? India has SUCH tasty sweet snacks, and you could also make some traditional American snacks. Kind of to clear the air and give the girls an idea of Indian hospitality and also how many different cultures there are. That would be friendly, help the girls, and your daughter. Of course they may not accept which would be really painful to your daughter. Hmmm. Tough situation all around.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:14 AM
 
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So we're talking, what, 3rd grade here? Maybe 2nd? IME, this is just the beginning of the "Mean Girls" stage. It probably wouldn't matter what your DD said, if she was from the moon or whatever, they were picking on her because it bothered her, not because they really thought she was Mexican, or even cared if she was Mexican, Idian, European, or Purple. Kids that age will latch onto whatever it is that aggravates and then not let it go. I remember when my own DD went through that and sadly, there's just nothing that can really be done about it except to ignore it and pretend it doesn't bother. Which is hard. Really hard. The more she tries to convince them that she's not Mexican, the more they are likely to keep insisting that she is, and no amount of info is going to change their little minds. All she can do is ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Good luck. It's so tough to be a mom and watch your little princess go through this.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:27 AM
 
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Ummmm....
To me, it sounds like the mean girls found a sore spot and are milking it for all it's worth.

The more your dd tries to educate them, the more they'll harp on it, especially now they know she's hurt about it.

Teaching moment here: Some people are just *mean*. There's no point fretting about them. Ignore them, or make a joke about their ignorance, or do anything other than let them see you're hurt.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:19 AM
 
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I think both you and your DD handled that really well. It's totally frustrating when someone you're talking to tries to pigeon-hole you and doesn't listen or believe you, but these are 8 year-olds and kids can sometimes have very narrow views and experiences, plus some kids just like or want to pick on somebody. I think if you keep telling your DD just to speak explain respectfully who she is and where she comes from and then leave it at that. This is probably not the first time she will encounter ignorance and there is always that chance, that though it may not seem like this at first, these girls will now know that there is a half-Indian girl at their school who looks really cool in traditional dress and was really nice to them and broadened their horizons.
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Old 01-30-2009, 12:31 PM
 
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Continuing to argue with them is not going to help at all. I wish I knew what would help, I don't. But I do know that by continuing to engage in the argument, things will only get worse.
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Old 01-30-2009, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for replying. I think you are right-- it is as much a "mean girl" issue as it is a racial issue. I talked with dd about it this morning after reading your replies. I told her that those girls (there are two main culprits) are like the Emperor who is walking around naked and looking foolish, but everyone's afraid to tell them the truth because of what they might do. I said the best thing to do is to correct them once, and then pretend like they are not bothering her (even if they really are). We practiced saying different versions of "I don't care" and "What's it to me?" including body language (shrugging, walking away), instead of arguing further about it. Apparently these girls also have tried to argue with her about science facts, and my dd is really into science and knows they were wrong about their facts and tried to argue with them. I said just forget about it, let them be like the foolish Emperor and think the are right, but they are really just continuing to make fools of themselves. The joke's on them.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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Well done, USAmma.

Here's what I've been harping on with my DD, who is now 15: It's easy to be nice to the people who are nice to you. The benefit is in being nice to those who are mean to you.

It's a hard principle to put into practice sometimes.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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I just wanted to chime in and say that I was that little indian girl growing up. I grew up in the middle of the bible belt, before the boom of South Asian population in our area.

I was made fun of a ton. It's tough to be different. But I'm super grateful for the opportunity to learn how to stand up for myself, and be proud of my culture. It's made sticking out and handling peer pressure much easier.

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Old 02-01-2009, 12:12 AM
 
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So Sorry

I am so happy that my son( half Egyptian, half MUTT (8
European countries) is surrounded by children and adults from a wide range of cultures from around the world. Actually,we just came home from a Guyanese party! I believe that people who don't experience cultures outside of their own, are really holding themselves back. I guess it also depends on where you live. I am in Northern New Jersey, and there are TONS of different cultures here! I love it!
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Old 02-01-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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i agree that this is more a case of mean behavior than the ignorant aspect. they weren't even trying to listen to her about her family, so if it were just ignorance they may have been able to listen. but once she showed that she was hurt, they just took it and ran with it i'm afraid. i am sorry that she has to deal with these nasty kids. such nastiness.

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Old 02-03-2009, 11:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well guess what? I had the chance to meet one of the two mean girls today when I went to pick up dd from school. I asked Abi to introduce me to her classmates and recognized this ones name. I then introduced my SIL and nephew who were there with us and said, "They are visiting us from India right now. Did you know dd's daddy is from India, too?" The girl had this look flicker across her face but she covered it up real quick.

The funny thing is, she was not light-skinned like I expected, but was very similar to dd in her hair and skin color. I am not going to try to guess her ancestry, but I just didn't expect the girl who made that comment about dd having "Mexican skin" to look similar to dd. Anyway, I just wanted to share the update. My dd has been doing a good job with bully tactics that we talked about, like being friendly to her when she's alone, and try to avoid her when she's with her little mean friend.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:44 AM
 
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i would have paid good money to see the look on her face. you are an amazing mama!

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Old 02-05-2009, 03:06 AM
 
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Oh, that is wonderful that your daughter is doing well using those tactics and also that you had the chance to approach one of the girls in a friendly way. I kept thinking of your beautiful daughter and feeling kind of sad. So I am really glad you updated.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
The funny thing is, she was not light-skinned like I expected, but was very similar to dd in her hair and skin color. I am not going to try to guess her ancestry, but I just didn't expect the girl who made that comment about dd having "Mexican skin" to look similar to dd.
It does make me wonder if the girl might herself have Mexican heritage, and that her remarks may have been more from a place of an "uh-uh, 'cause you look like me" thing than just plain belligerence.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Ummmm....
To me, it sounds like the mean girls found a sore spot and are milking it for all it's worth.

The more your dd tries to educate them, the more they'll harp on it, especially now they know she's hurt about it.

Teaching moment here: Some people are just *mean*. There's no point fretting about them. Ignore them, or make a joke about their ignorance, or do anything other than let them see you're hurt.
I second Cappucinosmom. I taught 3rd grade. Girls at that age can be quite nasty. If she can, tell your daughter to ignore it.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:17 PM
 
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I've thought about this thread a couple of times and I was wondering something that seems more likely with your update.

For some reason, I wondered whether the girls were Mexican--there are certain Indian names (like Sarita and Amita) that definitely sound like Mexican names and I wondered whether, despite their meanness, the girls genuinely believed your daughter to be Mexican (I have no idea what her name is, but I just wondered if her name might be one that sounds similar in Spanish...)

I know that within the Mexican community there is some disdain for people who choose not to teach their kids Spanish (as if they are rejecting their culture) and I wonder if the girls' meanness stemmed from something in that vein that was expressed by their parents.

My husband, who is Lebanese, runs into this all the time. People assume he speaks Spanish and then are genuinely offended that he doesn't. Once he has explained that he's Lebanese, all is well.

Of course, none of that excuses the girls being mean to your daughter, and in any case, it sounds like both you and your daughter handled this situation beautifully. I'm glad to hear things are settling down for her.

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Old 02-09-2009, 08:55 PM
 
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USAmma, ITA with Turkish Kate's translation of the issue. This is definately Mean Girls territory - have you read Queen Bees and Wannabes? It has some wonderful ideas about how to navigate this age and developmental stage.

BTW, your girls are so beautiful :
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:23 PM
 
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I'm so happy you posted this thread. Lately my DD has been coming home from school so upset because the girls are telling her she's ugly and stupid because she has blonde hair and green eyes. She's cried so many times about it and is seriously considering homeschooling now because of it (homeschooling has always been an option for her since moving to Japan) but I don't want her to give up because of teasing. I'd like to teach her what to do about it.

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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Ummmm....
To me, it sounds like the mean girls found a sore spot and are milking it for all it's worth.

The more your dd tries to educate them, the more they'll harp on it, especially now they know she's hurt about it.

Teaching moment here: Some people are just *mean*. There's no point fretting about them. Ignore them, or make a joke about their ignorance, or do anything other than let them see you're hurt.
As a former school guidance counselor this is what I would always try to teach the children (mostly 3rd and 4th graders) who were having problems with other student's teasing (and it worked most of the time). I've tried teaching my DD (7 years old in Japanese first grade) this same thing and we've roll played at home. However, putting it into action at school has been tough for her--maybe she's still too young to understand this concept?!!?

Barbara:  an always learning SAHM of Ilana (11) and Aiden (8) living in Belgium with my amazing husband.

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Old 02-11-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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I think you've given your DD some great tips and she is doing a great job wrt this situation. Who knows, maybe one day they will be friends?
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Turkish Kate View Post
So we're talking, what, 3rd grade here? Maybe 2nd? IME, this is just the beginning of the "Mean Girls" stage. It probably wouldn't matter what your DD said, if she was from the moon or whatever, they were picking on her because it bothered her, not because they really thought she was Mexican, or even cared if she was Mexican, Idian, European, or Purple. Kids that age will latch onto whatever it is that aggravates and then not let it go. I remember when my own DD went through that and sadly, there's just nothing that can really be done about it except to ignore it and pretend it doesn't bother. Which is hard. Really hard. The more she tries to convince them that she's not Mexican, the more they are likely to keep insisting that she is, and no amount of info is going to change their little minds. All she can do is ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Good luck. It's so tough to be a mom and watch your little princess go through this.
agreed. these were my thoughts as well.

I also thought the idea someone else here mentioned about inviting them over for some traditional stuff would be good... so long as your dd understands that she is in no way doing this to be able to fit in with these girls or prove something to them. Perhaps tell her that it's always good to help others learn and do our best to get along with others and THAT is all you are trying to do. Just don't let your dd think throwing a party is a way to get kids to like her. Perhaps she can invite all of the girls from her class. That way she isn't only including the girls who are bothering her. In teaching a lesson about including and respecting others it would make sense to include more than just the naughty girls to the fun.

~TRACY, wife to loving dh, mommy to dd (10/05), ds(12/08), 3 kitties, & 2 pups.
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