My oldest daughter, Bailey is really one of a kind. When she was little she’d give away her toys to anyone who asked. She welcomed anyone who wanted to play. She was happy and beautiful on both the inside and the outside. Then came the bullying.
Bailey had a rough time growing up. She dealt with Sensory Processing Disorder and hearing loss in her left ear. One little girl in our neighborhood could smell out a difference with great skill (perhaps a genetic trait?) and chose Bailey has her target of misery.
This was back before the days when bullying was at the front of the nation’s attention. I remember calling this little girl’s Mom and trying to talk with her only to be told ‘that all kids did this kind of stuff.’
Unfortunately this was back in my ‘don’t rock the boat days.’ Looking back I should have gone up to this Mom, explained what was going on, and then explain that SHE could solve this issue of bullying or I could. However I could promise her that she wouldn’t like how I chose to solve the issue.
It’s one of the issues in which I feel as though I failed Bailey as a Mom.
Because of this experience with Bailey that I have NO issue going toe to toe with ANYONE to advocate for Parker, from lawmakers to those who insist on using the r-word.
Because of this experience I believe that Bailey is now such an excellent teacher. Excellent.
And, boy, does she love Parker.
Last Sunday Bailey and her husband came for dinner. Afterwards I was holding Parker and Bailey came over to give him a goodbye hug. I smiled and told Bailey that maybe she’d be lucky enough to have a kid like Parker one day.
I’m not sure how I thought she’d reply. With worry? Asking me what her odds were? Telling me one Parker in the family was more than enough.
No, not my Bay.
She instead looked me straight in the eye and told me that she was sure, one way or another, that she would have a kid just like Parker for her very own.
Bailey had told me that she and her husband wanted to have both biological and adopted kids. They both believe that every child deserves a home with parents who love them. Especially kids with Down syndrome.
I spent the rest of the night thinking of this little girl who was treated so horribly by so many of her peers as she was growing up.
I realized that the experiences she had while growing up helped to make her the outstanding young woman she is today.
Not someone who feels inferior. Not someone with low self esteem. Not someone for whom the most money means the most popular. Not someone who needs to tear down another in order to build themselves up. Not somebody filled with jealousy of anyone else. Not somebody who needs to create an imaginary perfect life in order to give them an imaginary sense of self worth.
Rather, someone who has risen above the bullies of her youth to set an example of what truly loving one another really means.
I still see this bully and her friends from time to time. And I smile wondering if they know that what they meant to tear my daughter down served to make her a stronger, more compassionate woman. A young woman who has left these other girls in the dust of life.
I almost…..almost want to go up and tell them about Bailey’s accomplishments and how terrific she is. But I don’t. As my daughter continues to set the world on fire, I know those little bullies, who have most likely grown up to be big bullies, will take notice all on their own. I imagine the shock on their faces as they realize they didn’t destroy my daughter, but only helped to create someone far above their level of pettiness. Someone who has set a goal to make the world a better place.
I have no doubt that this firstborn of my will do exactly that. Make the world a better place, not just for herself, but for everyone.
Something a bully could never, ever understand.