The door from the garage opened abruptly, and slammed with a thud, as two pairs of kid-feet stomped into the house.
"I'm SO mad!" my daughter yelled, tears falling from her eyes, and she shook her fists in the air.
"Yeah, me too! They were being mean to us!", said Tot.
"What happened?" I asked as my husband, the ever-protective Daddy, stood up and looked out the front window.
"Calvin and his friends are outside, and they were spitting on our chalk drawings, and erasing them with their feet!", Little Bit replied in a loud, furious voice. Tears were still falling, and her skinny little body was shaking with anger.
"They said my horse drawing looked like a cow with a unicorn horn! They were laughing at us!"
"Yeah! They were making fun of us and wouldn't go away!", Tot chimed in.
My husband opened the door, and stalked outside to confront the group of 12 year old boys, still standing in the middle of the cul de sac laughing. Despite being skinny kids from the suburbs in their Little League jerseys, I'm sure to my husband they looked like a group of gangsters or a pack of wild, snarling dogs.
Calvin is a neighbor boy, who is usually very nice to Little Bit and Tot. I think my daughter has always had a small crush on this normally good natured and sensitive kid, and Tot looks up to him.
As their father was outside talking to the boys, I comforted my daughter as best I could, and then she and her brother went upstairs to watch tv, Little Bit still sobbing.
"I'd better come back inside before I say or do something I'll regret to those little punks!", my husband stormed angrily as he came back in the house.
"What did you do to them?!", I asked, worried now.
"Nothing. I just told them that they shouldn't be teasing kids younger than them, and that they'd better leave them alone."
"Well, that sounds ok. What did they say?"
"Nothing. They just ran off laughing as soon as I turned around. Those little punks. I'm going to get myself arrested if I go back out there!"
"Boys that age are like that, especially in groups. They have to try to be 'cool' with their friends around. I'm sure they'll leave them alone now." I tried to reassure my husband that Calvin, normally a very respectful kid around adults, probably took the scolding very seriously, despite his reaction with his friends.
"You know, every time I start to think he's a pretty good kid, something like this happens. I don't trust that boy." My husband's motto tends to be "Trust no one" where our children are concerned.
Let me stop here to clarify that the last time "something like this" happened with Calvin, he was in 1st grade, and my daughter was in Pre-K. They had been playmates for months, when Calvin saw us outside, getting in our car. He was in his driveway with a friend, and enthusiastically called "Hi, Little Bit!" (ok, he used her actual name in real life, but you know...), and waved.
His friend loudly remarked, "Oh, Calvin, is that your giiiirrrlll-friend?", in the sing-songy tone that generations of kids have instinctively adopted in times like these.
Mortified, Calvin no longer would wave across the street, and rarely played with Little Bit after that. Needless to say, her Daddy was incensed by his behavior. But you know? The kid was only 6 for Pete's sake. Who holds a grudge against a 6 year old boy?
Daddies of little girls do, apparently.
So, as my husband was cooling off, I heard my daughter tell her brother, "I'm still SO mad at those boys! I'd like to spit in their faces and stomp on them, just like they did with our pictures!"
"Don't do that!", Tot replied, clearly horrified. "You'll have to go to 'juvey'!" How does my 7 year old son know about 'juvey'?
An hour or so later, after the kids had gone to bed, Little Bit came downstairs, still distraught and crying, but now more sad than angry.
"I can't stop thinking about what happened earlier. They hurt my feelings and made me so mad."
I felt helpless-times like these are when I wish I could channel a little Claire Huxtable or June Cleaver and say something helpful that will make it all better, but I must have skipped that part of the parenting handbook.
Clearly, my husband was feeling the same way. He looked at our 10 year old daughter with a mixture of helplessness and compassion, yet there was still a spark of anger in his eyes.
"Come here, honey", he said, and Little Bit curled up on the couch next to him with her Daddy's protective, loving arms around her. Her sobs slowly quieted, and her fists finally unclenched, as she relaxed.
Two days later, as I think back on that moment, I realize that some day, she's going to have her heart broken by a boy. She'll have disappointments, and people will do and say things that hurt her tender heart. We won't always be able to shield her from the hurt, and I won't have any half-hour sitcom type magic words that make the pain go away before the next commercial break. The mother in me wishes she could stay little and innocent, tucked away at home, sheltered from the hurts of the world, while the rational part of me knows that this is just all part of the growing process, and she will be fine.
My husband on the other hand (who is still stewing over the whole incident), is going to need some Xanax to make it through the growing years ahead.
By the way, last night I realized that I had forgotten to accept a blog award that I recently received! I don't know how I forgot-maybe it was the heat (our AC is humming along nicely now), or this little situation with the kids-but I am grateful for the award, and will post about it tomorrow!