“Your shoes are ugly.” What would you have said?

Brynn (4) came to me this morning as we were getting ready for school.

“Mommy, do you know what my classmates said to me?”

“What did they say?”

“Well, they were looking at their Hello Kitty shoes and saying they were pretty.  I told them I thought they were pretty, too.”

“That was a kind thing to say.”

(Tears well up) “But Mommy, they didn’t tell me thank you.  They said, ‘well, your shoes are ugly.”

She has pink Skechers, and they’re cool.  I’d wear them.  But they don’t sparkle or make noise or have any up-to-the-minute branding.  I asked Brynn if she liked her shoes, and she said she did, that they were her favorites.  I told her that’s what’s important.

She seemed to accept this but, if I think waaaaay back to grade school, I remember it was the sting of comments like this that stayed with me.

Yes, it’s all part of growing up.  Kids can be mean, and we won’t be running out to buy Hello Kitty shoes just because some of her little classmates haven’t quite learned to filter.  But I feel like I could have said something better, something more helpful or affirming.

So, if you were in my shoes this morning (pardon the pun), what would you have said?


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on ““Your shoes are ugly.” What would you have said?

  1. becomingcliche April 12, 2013 at 10:12 am Reply

    I tell my kids that sometimes kids are unkind and to find people who treat them well, that life is too short to waste on mean people. It’s a hard thing to watch. I’m sorry that happened to your daughter.

    We do have chats about empathy often, too. Some of the kids who have been the meanest to them have pretty awful life-stories, even at a tender age. Talking about how sometimes people who have been treated poorly themselves do the same to others has been helpful to build empathy, but they also have permission to not subject themselves to poor treatment.

    I think this issue is one of the hardest in parenting.

    • Julia Weston April 12, 2013 at 10:16 am Reply

      It’s so hard. There’s a delicate balance between having empathy and sticking up for yourself – and then trying to teach this to a preschooler… Thank you for your kind words and your thoughtful advice. I have a feeling she’ll bring it up again, and now I have another idea on how to approach it.

      • becomingcliche April 12, 2013 at 10:22 am

        My daughter dealt with three of the meanest little girls I have ever met. I talked to her about how Christ instructed us to pray for our enemies, and she did for two years. It changed how she felt about the girls, but she still wisely avoided them.

  2. Jonathan Caswell April 12, 2013 at 11:26 am Reply

    Can’t say anything much except to say that both of the above ideas sound good…we don’t have children. I know I faced something similar as a child, but how did we handle it? I was made fun of for other reasons. But I had a similar experience as an adult. Was invited to see one guy’s train layout and collection…then found out he really only wanted to boast about his own, receiving praise, and didn’t really want to check out mine.

    • Julia Weston April 12, 2013 at 11:58 am Reply

      Thank you Jonathan. Some people – both kids and grown-ups – can be difficult to deal with. I appreciate you sharing your experience here.

  3. mydailyminefield April 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm Reply

    I remember, eons ago, when some mean girls were teasing my best friend. She was a “pastor’s kid” and did the Christlike thing and just walked away, in tears. I, in turn, punched the meanest loudest girl right in the mouth. Guess I was a bit of a tomboy and I just couldn’t stand the idea of my friend hurting.

    I never really knew what to say to my son, when he was treated meanly. I couldn’t tell him to hit the kid. And telling a teacher labels you as a snitch. Usually, we prayed for guidance and understanding – and he’d go back the next day and get his feelings hurt.

    I hated this part of parenting. When your kids hurt and you really can’t fix it. Sounds like you are doing the right thing. I wish both you and your little one the very best 🙂

    • Julia Weston April 13, 2013 at 7:58 am Reply

      Lol! You sound like me as a child. I had a hard time just letting things like that happen. But I’m with you, I can’t counsel them to punch the mean kids, and can’t counsel them to tattle. My little ones want to believe that everyone is good and kind and nice. I hate watching their bubble get burst, though I know it’s part of life. I remember that feeling as a child, when I learned that some folks are just flat-out mean.

      We pray all the time. It helps my son (7), but my daughter is still very literal – if she prays for the mean girls she expects God to make them to cease and desist immediately, and she’s confused when they don’t. We’re working through it.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      • mydailyminefield April 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        I’m with your daughter – cease and desist!!!!

  4. Kathy April 13, 2013 at 8:04 am Reply

    I can’t believe the kids said that! But I suppose it’s a lesson we must all learn – no matter what age. People are going to be mean whether about our shoes as kids or about our faith as adults or about our books as writers. Good reminder to stand in our strength and identity as a child of God.

    • Julia Weston April 13, 2013 at 9:24 am Reply

      It’s amazing the things I hear while I’m spending time at the elementary school. You’re right; we can’t control what people say and do…for me, the hard part is that I’m still figuring out the whole, “light of the world/city on a hill” thing – and now I’m trying to teach it to my children. Needless to say, I’m praying! And, by the way, for many reasons I’m encouraged by the comments to this post. Thank you for your wise words.

What say you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s