The Girl with the Split Upper Lip

So, my kid has a fat lip.

I got a call yesterday afternoon from the school office. The director only left half a voice mail, because just as she was leaving the message, my husband got there to pick her up. "Shae has a fat lip and ..." I listened to the message in the car and I thought: it's finally happening. I didn't call the school or my husband back, because I wasn't sure I really wanted to know.

She's at an age where she knows hitting is not a good choice. Everything I've heard and read tells me that almost all kids hit at one time or another, usually before their language skills are as developed as Shae's, before they can adequately express their frustration, before they can tell people around them what they really want, before they can tell others to leave them alone. Now she's old enough and verbal enough to do that, and so hitting is an act of anger, of violence.

We know enough about her background, about her life before us, to know that there is a history of violence. I think she was removed from that situation early enough that she doesn't remember anything that might have happened between the adults in the home, but we have paperwork. Documentation. There were PFA's and hearings and restraining orders. Stuff happened. Her biological parents both had tempers.

She has a temper, too. Not a particularly bad one, nothing that seems unusual compared to other kids her age. But I have a temper, a quick and hot one, and while I do everything I can to control myself, sometimes she sees flashes of anger and hears harsh words. I worry what she is learning from me. I hope I never have to tell her about the time that I popped a guy right in the nose at a football game, when he called me a nasty name and I didn't control myself and walk away. It is not something I am proud of, but I won't deny that it happened.

Sometimes we see those flashes of anger in her, moments that suggest that she may be capable of the same kind of reaction under similar circumstances.

And a couple of days a week, when we can get ourselves together early enough, she spends time in a classroom with older kids, some as old as ten or so, who are waiting for their school bus. I don't like those days, because the older kids play differently than Shae's usual friends do. They're rougher, cruder, meaner. She knows enough to stay near the teacher and keep away from the troublemakers, but I don't know what she sees and hears. I don't know what she's learning from them, but I know what she might be, and it concerns me.

So when the director of her school called to tell me that something had happened, I gritted my teeth. It is never a good thing when the school has to call. Shae is a good kid, a very good kid most of the time, I know this, but she is stubborn. We have had some issues. Nothing serious, but I still worry. She doesn't always listen to her teacher. She isn't always quiet during "circle time." She sometimes won't go to the potty until it's too late, and sometimes she does that repeatedly during the day. She's willful and bull-headed. Her teacher lets us know when this happens, and she doesn't seem to be concerned, but I am.

Plus, there have been times in the past when I had to make demands, to raise a stink, because other kids were misbehaving, and Shae was tangentially involved. She has been picked on and bullied. She has fought back, usually by going to her teacher and being a tattle-tale, but she has also bitten other kids and thrown things. We have always tried to make it clear to her that hurting other people is unacceptable. Even when other people started trouble, we have had consequences for Shae if she got involved.

I was afraid that yesterday was going to be the day that my kid got expelled from pre-school for fighting.

Pretty Girl with Fat Lip

Turns out, she was running in the classroom, tripped, and fell face first into an end table. So I jumped to the wrong conclusions about my own kid over absolutely nothing. Projecting my own issues on to her. I am, like, the worst parent ever.


  1. wait till the teen years !!!!!

  2. My friend says that whoever invented the phrase Terrible Twos must have killed their child before they turned 3.

    yeah, sorry. that's all I've got. (hug) you're doing fine.

  3. I think all parents do that,atleast I know I do. :) We just want what's best for our kiddo's and sometimes we worry about our negative traits rubbing off on them.

  4. I think all parents do that,atleast I know I do. :) We just want what's best for our kiddo's and sometimes we worry about our negative traits rubbing off on them.

  5. just remember ... grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, courage to change the things i can, and wisdom to know the difference. you're doing a great job.

  6. Here I am delurking again, mostly because I feel you... oh how I feel you... I do the same with my 3 1/2 year old, but I don't think it's because you or I are bad parents... it's because if we think and plan for the worst we aren't freaked out if it really is that and when it turns out to be something not bad at all then we get a huge sense of relief. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. I personally think that is an excellent and brilliant parenting strategy. If the worst we can do is love our kids so much that we try to protect them from and prepare them for all of life's evils and challenges, then let's be the most worst and awful parents ever. Shae is getting something from you that is bigger than anger or tempers. She's getting unconditional love and she IS seeing how you try and learning what you teach her. Shae is a very lucky girl indeed.