When a 6 year old asks you a question, sometimes, it makes us think. We begin by explaining it to her in the simplest terms possible, and in doing so, sometimes we realise that what we’re explaining, ISN’T as complicated as we grownups like to think it is...
“What is a Bully Mammy?”
“Erm…A bully is someone who needs to make others feel bad to feel good.”
“That’s not very nice Mammy.”
“No it isn’t.”
“Are bullies not very nice?”
“Well some bullies are nice but they’re just a wee bit sad.”
“Why are they sad?”
“I don’t know pet. Some Bullies don’t even know that they’re sad or angry. But they are and so if you are happy or excited, they don’t like it because it makes them feel more angry and sad. And so they think they should stop you from being happy so that they can feel happy.”
“That sounds silly Mammy.”
“Yes. Yes it does.” (Actually Darling. It sounds utterly ridiculous…)
“Why can’t they just be nice?”
“I don’t know Honey. Sometimes they can be nice, they can even pretend to be nice when they’re not really.” (And they’re the ones you need to watch…)
“Because it makes them feel better about themselves.”
“That’s just stupid.”
“Yes. Yes it is.”
“What’s their problem like?”
“I don’t know pet. But remember that if someone doesn’t like you or is being mean to you, it’s not your problem. It’s their problem…”
And there, just like that, I have turned into my father.
“Remember who has the problem Darling” he has always said. And do you know what? As usual, he was and is right.
Whether you’re 5 years old in a playground, or 16 years old in a locker room, or 23 years old in a flat-share, or 32 years old in a staffroom, or 43 years old in an office, or 56 years old in a committee meeting, or 67 years old in a group or club… or 87 years old at the bingo, other people will sometimes have issues with you.
Other people will always have problems. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You don’t have to be.
But remembering that the issue or problem is THEIRS, not yours, helps.
I hate that I can’t protect her or her sister from Bullies. I hate that I won’t be beside her everywhere to show her the false smiles or to point out the ulterior motives of some people. It makes me sick that she might ever feel how I did for many many years in secondary school.
But while I can’t be there and she will of course have to deal with other people’s “problems”, I CAN and I will arm her with the understanding that she is in control of one thing.
She is in control of HER. Of HER feelings and HER self-worth and HER behaviour. And while she will make mistakes and poor judgement and absolute feck-ups, by God I hope that she will always be kind to others.
She will applaud them for their achievements rather than resent them for her failures.
She will congratulate her teammates even if she lost the game.
She will not put people down for being different.
She will not allow others to put someone else down in her company.
She will recognise that if someone else’s success annoys her, that it’s HER who has the problem, not them and by being bitter, she is gaining nothing but her own downfall.
Other people hold up a big mirror to us.
The person who gets to go on 3 holidays a year, reminds us that we don’t.
The person who wins, reminds us that we haven’t.
The person who has lost weight/bought a car/gotten married/been promoted/changed jobs etc., often highlights to us that we want something and haven’t yet got it.
Rather than belittling them for it or being angry at them, try realising that if you really wanted it, you would have it. If you really want to make something happen, who’s stopping you? Because surprisingly enough, it isn’t THEM who has the problem is it?
Bullies are to be pitied. Many don’t even realize that they do it. Many would be broke to the bone to think that their behaviour or comments have upset you.
But then, there are others who wouldn’t give a shit. And they are not worth your energy.
Remember who has the problem. If it’s you, that’s your problem. If it’s not you, why are you wasting your energy worrying about it?
Because if someone could work out an app for that, life would become soooooooooo easy. 😭
Today, we met my friend for coffee. She recently broke up with Gobshite. A grade A gobshite actually, but one of those Gobshites who was always nice to everyone, and so it’s difficult to actually say much bad about him.
He was especially nice to my Mini-Me and so on the road to, (let’s say), Gemima’s house, she asked me:
“Will (let’s say) John-Joe be there Mammy?”
“Nooooo Sweetie. John-Joe doesn’t live with Gemima anymore pet. They broke up so we won’t be seeing John-Joe anymore.”
“Never EVER again?”
“No Darling. But it’s OK because Gemima is very happy since he moved out and she’ll be fine.”
As we pulled into the driveway, I remembered to warn “Don’t ask about John-Joe please Mini-Me. I don’t want you to mention him while we’re here. OK?”
Yeah right S-Mum. 😂😂😂 It took all of 3 minutes before she started.
The conversation went something like this:
MM Hi Gemima. Where’s John-Joe?
Me Mammy already explained this Mini-Me, now go play with the cat.
MM But where IS he?
G John-Joe doesn’t live here anymore pet. We broke up.
Me That’s enough now. Where’s the cat?
MM Well John-Joe was my fwend and I wuved him so you can’t have broked up. Can you wing him and tell him to come back here RIGHT now so I can see him please?
Me OK, Who wants a biscuit? Mini-Me! Have a biscuit! (fuckitty fuck fuck!!)
MM I don’t want a biscuit. Why did you bweak up wif him? I WUV John-Joe.
Me Enough now Madam. Hahah! She’s such a rascal. hahahhahaha ( Where is the fecking cat? Please GOD, send in the fucking cat.)
G She’s grand. Sure she doesn’t understand.
MM I have a boyfwend you know?
G (smiling at the subject change) Do you Sweetheart? Who is your Boyfriend?
And I KNEW, there and then, what was about to come out of the little Demon’s mouth… I knew by her face. I knew by the excitement on her face. I knew because I KNOW her and her imagination… and I wanted the ground to open and swallow me up…
MM John-Joe is MY Boyfriend.
(Yup. She did it.😭😭 Like a mini Cameron feckin Diaz in a movie where she’s happily playing the mistress. I couldn’t breath. I looked at Gemima’s face, honestly uncertain about what I was going to see… THANKFULLY, she was laughing.) 😄
G Oh is he reeeeeeally? Well good luck to you pet.
MM Well YOU bwoke up wif him, so you don’t want him anymore anyway. Can I have another biscuit?
me Yes Darling and then you can go out and play with the traffic…
Enter the blasted fucking CAT, 2 minutes too late. “OooOoOOoh CAT! Hellloooooooo witto CAT!” she screamed as she ran out the door after the terrified and unfortunate creature. Better late than never. Stupid cat.
And then we laughed and laughed and I’m pretty sure she did a super job to not cry, and we (half) joked that we would love a glass of wine rather than a coffee,(hahahahahahaha) and she joked about how funny Mini-Me is and how she has nothing to learn.
And I disagreed profusely because she has LOTS to learn, the most important and urgent thing being how to SHUT UP!
Followed by how to say NOTHING when you’ve been warned to say nothing.
Followed by how to up her choice of Gobshite… but maybe we’ll leave that for another 10 years or more.
I’m still cringing.
If the ground had opened, I would have jumped in, (but not before I’d grabbed the biscuits!)
How was your day?🍷