My twins are in the same class at school, and for the past few months my daughter has complained off and on about a boy bothering her. He is rude to her, insults her, yells at her, the list goes on and on. Every time she brought this up, my son would get very angry because it just so happens that this other boy is a friend of his. He felt hurt that she said bad things about his friend. She felt hurt that he didn’t believe what she was saying. Everyone would blow up at each other and then go off to their own corners until the topic inevitably came up again.
Things came to a head a few weeks ago when my daughter tearfully told her brother how horrible it felt for him to ignore what she was going through and take his friend’s side just because the friend treated him well. Finally, finally my son seemed to fully understand and the two hugged- something I don’t see them do too often now that they’re approaching ten.
Last week my daughter was venting about another incident that had happened. Things had escalated, and the other boy had gotten crueler and more aggressive with her. This time my son blew up, but not at his sister. He vowed to talk to his friend the next day. He puffed his little chest up, telling her he’d defend her even if it meant he got in trouble. He even swore he’d quit the project he and his friend have spent all year working on- something he has chattered about excitedly every single day- if the friend didn’t shape up.
And that moment was so gratifying and humbling and bittersweet all at once- not just because they’re my kids, but because it was like witnessing a tween version of the #metoo movement play out right in front of me. The cry for help, the disbelief, the hurt and anger. And ultimately the ending we all want: to be seen and heard and understood.