September 1, 2009
Not so nice....name-calling
Well, I knew there would come a time when someone would be mean to Hannah. Everybody gets their feelings hurt on occasion. It's bound to happen.
Today was Hannah's day.
I don't have all the details, because Hannah couldn't or wouldn't explain very much about the situation.
We went to the gym this morning for the first time in many weeks (travel, guests, my back injury). There is a Kids Zone at the gym, and Hannah usually hangs out in the habitrail tunnel climbing thingy and stakes out an upper corner where she gets a good view of whatever DVD is playing. There are many activities for the kids, generally divided by age grouping, but she usually prefers to get in some free screen time in the big room. She stays in the kids' area while I do my cardio, then I usually have her join me for the weight machines. She likes to do the stationary bike (very slowly).
Today there were many many kids--it's only one week away from public school starting and I think the parents are starting to get antsy and want to get some space! The bigger kids were in the kids' gym playing games, but Hannah chose to stay in the main play room with the younger kids.
When I went back to get Hannah, I couldn't see her in the crowd, nor up in her regular crow's nest perch. The workers called out for her, and found her in the depths of the tunnel labyrinth. I could tell that she had not had much fun.
When we went into the locker room, I asked her what was wrong. Her glasses were filmy with dried tears.
She said, "They called me an Alien. They said I was an Alien. I'm NOT an Alien." Then she cried.
I tried to find out if the kids were playing outer space or something, but apparently not.
From what I can piece together, there were a couple of boys, probably around 6 or 7 years old, who decided to harrass her. They repeatedly called her an Alien. Of course, the first thing I thought was that it was their way of describing how she is different. But I don't know that. It could be that they were playing Buzz Lightyear. She said, "No, they weren't playing. They were being bad."
I guess it's time to start working on come-backs so she has a script to use in cases like these. We usually do role playing--lately we've been working on getting her to recognize when someone is playfully teasing, and what an appropriate response should be. We'll have to broaden that to include ignoring people who are rude and mean.
We left the locker room, and went out to the pool. It's been chilly the past few days, so I let Hannah take a dip at the gym instead of freezing at the neighborhood pool. (I am so dang nice like that.)
Right after she got in the pool, a girl about her age swam up and wanted to play with her. They played together happily for nearly an hour! It was just the remedy we both needed. It also didn't hurt that I witnessed Hannah win an informal swimming race, fair and square.
Tonight we talked about what to say and do when someone is bothersome. We'll keep working on it. Hopefully the next time she feels marginalized she'll have a way to stand up for herself a little more. I considered telling her that she could respond by saying that she was a legal US citizen, but what are the chances that someone else will call her an Alien???