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Yes, Bette, I Believe It Is!

So yesterday, beautiful Maisy who is about to be barely 9 had her first cat fight.
Over a boy.
Ohhhh ye gods and little fishes.

There’s a fifteen minute window between her car pool time and her brother’s, and she spends it in study hall. Yesterday, she came trailing out to the car with her backpack down, just weeping her guts out. She could hardly speak.

Me: Maisy! Honey! What!


Every kid begins the day with a behavior score of four. Maisy almost always gets fours.

Maisy: *wailing between freshets of spurting tears* First I got bumped to a three because I forgot to have you sign my agenda. And yesterday I didn’t do my math because I forgot, so then I was at a two. And then just now in study hall, I hit a girl in the face with my backpack. And *hitch* now *snort* I GOT A OOOOOOONE. *full blown wail*

Me: Wait, whoa, what? You whatted a girl in the where with your…WHAT? WHY?

Maisy: *small voice* I lost my temper. (I do think it is important to note here that the backpack in question held a folder and a stack of papers—nothing that could break teeth. Heh. BUT STILL.)

Me: I’ll say… (SO then I took ten minutes and I said all the things moms say in this situation. You know, about the finding other ways to express anger, and using our words and not our tiny, enraged pink fists, and asking what she might do NEXT time she loses her temper, and how it didn’t matter what OTHER kids did TO her, all she could control was her OWN actions, and her own actions should not ever include whanging people in the face with backpacks. And once we had walked that whooooole path, I asked…) Why did you lose your temper?

Maisy: I told her my secret. She asked. She promised she wouldn’t tell, and I still didn’t want to tell her, but she SWORE, Mama, and then as soon as I whispered it to her, she jumped up and she she yelled it. She yelled my secret TO EVERYONE IN STUDY HALL. OVER AND OVER! *fresh bursts of tears*

Me: Hrm. What was the secret?

Maisy: *horrified* Oh mama. I can’t tell you, Mama. It is very deep! And you would be so mad.

Me: I promise I won’t be mad.

Maisy: No matter what the secret is, you swear you won’t be mad?

Me: Maisy, I can’t tell you that your actions won’t have consequences. Because they do. But I can tell you this—you can always tell me your secrets. I won’t be mad.

Maisy: But it is SO SECRET AND DEEP. This is my DEEPEST, Mama!

Me: Except, well, I mean, NOW the whole study hall knows, so you might well tell me.

Maisy: …Ilikeaboy.

Me: Ahhh, I see. Is it *name redacted*?

Maisy: *in total shock* HOW DID YOU GUESS?

Me: *dry* There were signs.

Dear Cupid, my kid is 8, so hows about you point your bow elsewhere. Don't think this can't happen to you, buddy. Love, Mama Bear.

Like, for example, this male name is invoked in our house daily, in the same reverent whisper nuns save for chanting the names of martyred saints.

Like, for example, once I asked Maisy if she liked this boy, and she cocked her HIP at me like a supermodel shilling juice boxes and TOSSED HER HAIR and said, “I don’t LIKE LIKE him, not like THAT.” Which is universal girl speak for I SO SUPER LIKE LIKE HIM, EXACTLY LIKE THAT. Just not a stance and a sentence I expected to hear from MY girl’s mouth for, oh, two or three more years. THE CHILD IS NOT EVEN NINE. Boys? Really? Yes. Really.

So I had her write a note of apology that included her planned strategies for how to handle her temper next time. And let me tell you, if you hit another kid on MY watch? The wrath of all the heaven descends upon you and you suuuuuuffffffer. I am talking OLD Testament wrath of heaven. The flaming sword kind. None of this GRACE and PEACE business. Ask my son, who resorted to fisticuffs once when he was little. Key word here: Once.

But…oh me, oh my. Maybe….maybe not. Not this time. I know ALL kids do this power-flexing sort of cruelty at one time or another. This girl is eleven years old—-that’s much more sophisticated than Maisy. She sat and whispered with Maisy about boys and gained her confidence and asked and asked her what boy she liked, and swore she would never tell. Stick a needle type swears. Mother’s grave. She winkled Maisy’s deepest secret out of her, and then leaped up and started chanting it to a room full of children in that hateful kind of cruel sing-song every child employs at one time or another in the service of tormenting others. Over and over. And when she wouldn’t stop, Maisy backpacked her in the face…

Yeah. It was wrong. But. To be brutally, awfully, hatefully honest?

If I was Maisy? I might have backpacked that kid in the face myself. I think the 1 in behavior and the written apology and, OH MOST OF ALL, the having to face that boy in class today KNOWING it has gotten back to him—-gahhh. I think it is enough.

In totally unrelated news, I have decided Maisy needs more hobbies.
And a pony.
And to go to Convent School.

27 comments to Yes, Bette, I Believe It Is!

  • I was in 4th grade when this happened to me. I wish I’d had the guts to respond as your daughter is, right or wrong. LOL! Might have changed my entire future.

  • Shelley

    Did one of the non-violent strategies include repayment in kind? Or making up stuff about the evil 11 year old and spreading said lies? Girls can be so cruel. I hope Maisy isn’t mortified for long. Fortunately boys have short memories.

  • Winkle is a great word.

    Poor Miss Maisy. I’d have clobbered the little brat, too.

  • Bev

    I just found your Blog and I believe I’m in love!

    My husband (the Pastor) once told my daughter NOT to turn the other cheek to one of her tormenters in Middle School. It was a case of Daddy being so fed up with his daughter coming home traumatized by the mean girls, he couldn’t take it anymore. “God calls us to be meek, not weak,” he said in justification. Eventually, he calmed down and we had a nice chat with the school officials and the child’s parents.

    I’m sure this will be a character-building memory for Maisy as she matures.

    On another note, I’d just like to thank you for helping me to identify my writing style. Apparently, I am as organic as they come and I really thought there was something drastically wrong with me, until I read your blog. Also, the pics of Alan Rickman thrown in for good measure were totally win!


  • Bless her. That is a painful (on so many levels) lesson to learn. The same thing happened to me when I was in 7th grade. . .and it was my really TRULY best friend. She already KNEW my secret, but her BOYFRIEND wanted to know my secret too. So she gave him a hint in that manner of, “He’s wearing a pink shirt.” It was a polo, and it was 1983, and not even THEN did many boys wear pink shirts. It stood out nicely against all of the green football jerseys on the side-line where he was standing due to an injury. I dumped my Coke on her head. She threw her Sprite in my face. We were in each other’s weddings. But I DID NOT tell her my secrets for a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time.

  • Oh, my heart is just breaking for Maisy Jane. Have we not all lived through some similar torment that still smarts just a little, even now 20+ years later? Though – the age is a bit concerning. My own Preshus Niece is proudly seven-and-a-half, and now I’m terrified of the day my sister calls me with a similar disaster tale. I thought we had at least 4 or 5 more years. Apparently not. 🙁

  • Em

    Oh, my face is so hot for Maisy right now. Promise me this, when that little girl, that 11 year old, who for the sole reason of her being 11 as why I am not calling her very very unladylike words, when it all comes back to bite her, please blog it. I need to believe in cosmic retribution and when she slips on spilled water the day she wears a skirt and her mom was washing all of her nice underwear, leaving her with the Care Bear ones her grandma sent, flashing the football team, I want to know. When she gets brought home by the police for necking in the back of a parked car and the whole school nicknames her Hickey, I want to know. And when she farts doing a sit up in gym class with the cutest boy in school holding her feet, I WANT TO KNOW. Please, follow this story up and tell Maisy we have ALL been there and she will grow up to be the sweet girl who liked a boy while that awful 11 year old mean girl grows into the town’s farting hussy in Care Bear skivvies. Or something.

  • Aimee

    Oh NOES! Poor Maisy. Poor, poor Maisy. I mean, YES of course empirically speaking one should not hit another person with a backpack in the face. Of course one shouldn’t. But I have to say that I think Maisy was dreadfully provoked and that the Very Mean Girl is lucky she got off so easy. Oh, and I certainly hope that the VMG was duly dinged on her behavior score as well. Surely tormenting another student should count against her, no?

    Speaking of Alan Rickman, the word “winkle” reminds me of that great scene from the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman/Kate Winslet version of “Sense and Sensibility” where Mrs. Jennings is trying to find out who Elinor is in love with. Mrs. Jennings says, “We’ll winkle it out of you sooner or later”, and Mr. Jennings says, “She’s horribly good at winkling.”

  • Haley

    Poor Maisy. I remember how dramatic it was to like boys in the third grade. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to change much when you get older.

    P.S. You should probably sue the BBC for plagiarizing Maisy. If you’ve never seen or heard of the show MI-5, season 1 features a blonde child named Maisy who I think looks a little like pictures you’ve shown here. This was in 2002, so I’m not sure who has the rights here. But you know, you can’t let the BBC get away with this.

  • I really think the older girl will think twice, because, um backpack to the face. NOT THAT I AM CONDONING BACKPACK TO THE FACE. Lordy! But the older girl now knows… If you push people hard enough, you can get hurt, too.

    And truthfully? I do not AT ALL think this older girl is a BAD kid. She is 11, and she played a mean trick…Well, at 11, I played some pretty MEAN tricks. And had them played on me. 11 is ALL about testing boundaries and learning about power and balance…. ALL girls do these things at that age….it’s part of growing up.

    I HATE That it happened to Maisy, I do…but Maisy will think twice about baring her DEEPEST secrets…

    Man growing up is hard!

  • I have betrayal stories, although none like this, but only because I didn’t SPEAK to anyone until junior high.

    I’m so sorry that she had to experience this, and while I am an advocate of “just walk away”, I think that just the humiliation of having this meanie scream her secrets to the whole world is plenty punishment enough for losing her temper. Oh, and don’t tell, but GO MAISY!

  • edj

    Oh stuff like this is so painful. I actually love what Em wrote…about Hickey and her Care Bear unmentionables 😉 And don’t tell Maisy, but I think she did the right thing. Sometimes you have to do what it takes to get the other person to SHUT THEIR MOUTH! (ok, his or her mouth, not their mouth, but seriously folks, who has time for uptight grammar?)
    8.5 is young, but I also think she’s just being a little more honest than most. And I know she can’t realize it now, but soon even the boy will have forgotten all about it. Maisy won’t, but with any luck it’ll turn into a short story some day.

  • Kim

    “Like, for example, once I asked Maisy if she liked this boy, and she cocked her HIP at me like a supermodel shilling juice boxes and TOSSED HER HAIR and said, “I don’t LIKE LIKE him, not like THAT.” Which is universal girl speak for I SO SUPER LIKE LIKE HIM, EXACTLY LIKE THAT.”

    This just slayed me…because even at 42, this truism still holds. LOL!!!

  • Jill W.

    Poor Maisy!

  • Oh poor Maisy! I had a pretty similar thing, with a crush that was already painfully obvious, when I was 16, and it was still absolutely MORTIFYING. Another similar incident, and I’m afraid I slapped the boy involved (not the one I liked, the one making fun) and while it was definitely not my finest moment, I still can’t help but think HE TOTALLY DESERVED IT 😛

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    Ditto to what Kim wrote two posts above me about Maisy’s girl speak. Add to it the talking-while-sobbing — another type of girl speak that only other girls can understand.

  • Trish

    “backpack” is now officially my favorite verb!

  • liz

    No no no no. Beautiful Maisy cannot possibly be old enough to like boys! She’s still, like, two, right? Please?

    The picture of the cupid and the caption under made me laugh very hard. But poor Maisy’s story did not.

  • Les in AZ

    As a teacher I can’t officially condone Maisy (but secretly) I am cheering her on! That was a mean thing to do – bratty 11 year old bully.

    Sometimes karma comes back 🙂 And tomorrow she can get back to her 4. We all need a 1 day once in a while!

  • Les in AZ


  • At least it was a almost-empty-backpack…

    A girl took my scissors without asking me once (because my mother told me you always ASK to borrow things – you just don’t take them without asking it’s rude! Soo…. I did have a temper… I took my scissors back from that girl and chopped half her beautiful long raven black hair off.

    I was in Kindergarden… so… yeah….

    YEARS (I mean YEARS later!) in High School… this woman comes up to me at a school function and starts ranting and raving about how her daughter’s hair was never the same after that… I guess the woman figured out who I was since I was just announced for the year book committee. It was weird… I just looked at her like she was crazy and walked away…

  • Poor Maisy. Those days when the boy you like KNOWS you like him and you know he knows I remember thinking my life was OVER. And you swear up and down to everyone you know that you don’t LIKE like him but as you said that’s exactly what that means.

    Le sigh. Her first lesson in figuring things out.

  • Brigitte

    *secretly cheering Maisy on*

    My daughter is only 6 and has blushingly declared (secretly, to me) intentions of marriage. Luckily, she’s fickle and keeps changed her mind about her intended. But frighteningly, at least a couple of those intendeds are a LOT older than her!

  • JulieB

    Oh dear. I am pretty happy she stood up for herself though. I would not have done so, and only ended up learning those skills in college. Fortunately, my oldest daughter is almost past the worst, and the second oldest is in 8th grade, so the end of most of that is in sight. (I truely think 7th grade is probably the worst of all).
    Sadly, my littly guy is just beginning his trek through the swamp of baiting and biting.

  • Oh, man, those are hard lessons for both girls to learn. Growing up is so complicated, isn’t it? Hilarious and touching post as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  • Leslie Noon

    That 11 year old did more than do a mean thing. She did a mean thing to a little kid. Phooey on her! I love that you give her the benefit of the doubt. I hope you’re right and that some day she feels really bad about being mean to one of the littles and she teaches her own kids how to be better than she was. It could happen.

    In the meantime! I predict that, since if Maisy really likes this boy, chances are he’s a really, really great little boy, and now he knows that she like likes him, he may give Maisy an awesome Valentine. Maybe even involving chocolate. And if he does, you, as the mother, MUST guard that chocolate from Bagel. Because if a girl’s first Valentine chocolate, received in 3rd grade, gets eaten by her dog, her mother will end up feeling awful and spend most of the day after Valentine’s day trying to find an identical chocolate to replace it before said daughter finds out that the dog ate it. And there are NO Valentine chocolates to be had on the day after Valentine’s Day.

  • Duckiemom

    Poor Maisey! The course of true love never runs smoothly! I think she showed remarkable restraint by just swinging her book bag – I’m afraid I would have followed that by jumping and stomping on the little witch.8^)