I dropped my kids off at camp yesterday. It’s a thing that should be normal. They’ve gone to camp almost every day this summer. But this time…it was not OK.
It’s a good camp. A great camp…but this is so not about the camp. This is about a little girl who has been encouraged, her whole life, to be who she is—unapologetically. A little girl who wanted to wear her shirt inside out to camp, because she felt like it. And, hey—why not? (The ’80s taught us this is totally rad.)
But this little girl was mocked by her group as I signed her in. They laughed, and pointed, and told her she wasn’t “dressed right.” I gave them a “mom stare” (my North Valley stare is not as effective as Carmelina’s South Valley version)—but then I had no choice but to go off and work. But work waited as I cried in the car for 20 minutes, because this little girl is…a little girl. A girl who has endured a very long time of watching her family and friends deal with medical emergencies. A girl who has a room filled with fluffy stuffed animals and her own baby clothes because she refuses to part with them. A girl who is on the brink of becoming a woman and doesn’t understand what the heck that means. A girl who is trying to make sense of the world.
A girl who is…a girl.
I remember that I was mean-girled when I was little. I remember the sadness, the confusion, the sting of their words—to this day, what they said still sticks.
And I remember, too, upon holding this sweet, brand-new baby girl that already smelled like sunshine and hope and laughter, I had the back-of-the-brain knowledge that she’d eventually have to encounter those same kind of sticky words.
I guess I just didn’t think it would be now.