Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Part of "DON'T MESS WITH KIDS" Don't You Understand?!

I should warn you.  We don't truly "rant" very much around here, despite our name.  This post isn't funny.  Because I don't feel funny right now.  I feel stabby. 

Do you see this sweet little girl?  You may have read about her.  Her name is Kathleen Edward, she lives in Michigan and she's 7.  She's the same age as my oldest daughter.  Kathleen is dying of the same degenerative brain disease that killed her mother Lauren last year (Huntingdon's Disease).  In recent days, Kathleen has been the recipient of a shopping spree, candlelight vigils and myriad shows of support. Not because she's dying - but because her adult neighbor, Jennifer Petkov (herself a mother of two) had so viciously bullied her.

These are some of the things that Jennifer Petkov-- a supposed grown up -- did to a dying seven year old who had just lost her mother:
  • Posted images of her dead mother's face on a corpse being embraced by the grim reaper on Facebook.
  • Posted an image of Kathleen's little face on a set of crossbones.
  • Painted her pick-up truck (with her delightful hubby) black and built a coffin to display in the bed of the truck so they could drive it up and down the street where little Kathleen lives.
  • Covered their front yard with tombstones and claimed they were just Halloween decorations a few weeks early.
  • And told Kathleen, "I can't wait until you die".
Why?  Why would anyone do something so horrible?  Apparently, Jennifer Petkov didn't appreciate that the girl's grandmother once took too long to return a text message.  The grandmother, named Rebecca Rose, was apparently not prompt enough in responding to a request for Jennifer's daughters to come bounce in a bouncy house on her lawn.

Don't believe me?  See for yourself.

This woman tormented a dying child and her family because she enjoyed the personal satisfaction it gave her.  Because it made her feel good to know that she was upsetting the girl's grandmother - rubbing her ass raw.  A delicate turn of phrase from a delicate flower.  Seriously?  And then twenty-four hours later, she was completely remorseful?  I have no words.  There is only Maude.



Thank you, Maude.  I know you feel as I do.  I know you'd hold my purse while I rub her ass raw - with my powerful and indignant fists of fury (okay, that sounds gross and unsanitary, but you get the point).  And when it was good and raw, I would buy up all the Desitin in the tri-county area leaving her unable to relieve the discomfort.  Actually, this would all occur metaphorically and not literally so I probably wouldn't even have to buy all that diaper cream, but just typing that made me feel better.

It is too much for me to take.  For the past forty minutes, I've been having these Quentin Tarantino-style imaginings of me and Kate flying to Detroit, renting a big-ass muscle car like an orange Camaro or something and driving to this woman's house and roundhouse kicking her in the face while Kate cracks her knuckles, sharpens the pointy tips of her stilettos and nods. 

But this isn't a movie...  And its not a joke.  And real people were damaged.

I am not objective, and I admit it.  One of my kids was bullied by an adult.  It was nothing this extreme. I stood up for my child, as did his school and his teacher.  It's been almost two years.  I've forgiven, not because anyone asked for forgiveness or acknowledged their wrong-doing.  But because I needed to let go of my anger or lose my schmidt for good.  And because of God.  But just when I think I'm over it - something happens and I get all flushed and angry again.  Last month, someone kicked my stroller with my child in it, because we wouldn't get out of her way fast enough.

I now subscribe to the following belief: Adults who are good feel an instinct to protect children and those beings who are weaker than they are. Adults who feel no such compulsion are bad.  Evil, really.  Why are there so many bad ones?  I am so mad right now that I want to set a fire and run into the forest and do an angry dance.  But I'm also incredibly sad.  How can this be?  How can all of this cruelty be allowed?  I need to pause for some serious ugly crying while I think about this poor, motherless girl and all the children who have been bullied to death.

This is me sobbing.  This is me taking a shot.

You know what snaps me out of it? The thought of that she-devil Jennifer Pevcot (I can't spell her name now) lighting a candle on her porch for the little girl that she tormented and wished dead.  Then I get all stabby again.  I need to do some deep breathing or yoga or something.  I need to try and process this and let go of some of my crazy.  Quite clearly, crazy and pissed off are not the answer to this particular problem.    

Because I'm having whackadoodle thoughts. Like I want Taco Bell to set up a charity for her, whereby everyone who is pissed off about this can go into one of their fine establishments and kick a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Jennifer Petco in the taco and, for every taco shattered by our righteous fury, they will donate a dollar to stop snitches from being evil to children.

Help me.  I want to understand what would make a mother of two daughters do this.  I look at my daughters and my son.  I watch them walk out my door and I am gripped by The Fear.  I read these stories of bullying and I am burning with The Rage.  I have a serious problem with The Capitalization of Emotions.  Please help me learn to live with the knowledge that there are Jennifer Petcos everywhere.  How do I protect my children from this?  How do I keep my sanity? 

My kids are safely tucked in and sleeping.  I'll be drinking.  And hoping the morning brings good news.
Like that Kathleen is cured, won the lottery, and hired a big green Lou Ferrigno to bring the red you-know-what to anyone who is mean to another kid.  And if the kid is sick, she can hire me. For free. 

xo, Lydia
_____________________________

Good morning. I woke up to find that lots of people had read this post. Whew... Thank you for the comments that are helping me to wrap my head around this.  Sadly, it's the morning and Kathleen isn't cured and the Hulk still hasn't shown up.  Also, without the benefit of two ounces of single malt Scotch, I should say I'm thinking somewhat more clearly.  I should also say that I'm not entirely proud of last night's temper tantrum - the advocation of organized taco kicking (even for charity) is not a mature, well-measured response. 

I have a friend who can always be counted upon to say what I need to hear to help me make sense of things.  One of his favorite maxims is "Where is the lesson?"  I've been trying to figure that out.  Your comments have really helped.  One thing's for sure, more anger isn't helpful.  But it feels so good.  That's what she said.  Literally.  That's what she said - The Rage felt good to her and it made her do awful things. 

I discussed bullying with my kids this morning and as usual, their perspective was awesome.  As he always does, my five-year-old son quoted Star Wars:

        "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in her..."

So do I.  The world needs less fear, less anger, less hate, less suffering.  If the moms of the word can't be depended upon to do everything possible to make that happen - who can?

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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