“Are you a Heather?” “No, I am a Veronica.” Yes, for those who can remember back that far, I am quoting a conversation from the 1988 movie Heathers between Winona Ryder (Veronica) and Christian Slater. You are probably asking why I am doing this?
Well, I had an experience with my three year old daughter at her pre-school, where she was involved in being a part of the so-called “in crowd” or “Heathers“. To be honest, I am truly not surprised that cliques, kids being bullied, and peer pressure still exist, because I did after all work as a teacher in the middle school before having my kids, but more or less amazed that it occurs in pre-school and at this young age.
Let me set up a bit of background though here. My older daughter, Emma has two cousins and they all are born the same year and are the same age. They have, of course, been best friends and played with each other from pretty much as far back as they can remember.
This year when Emma started pre-school, both of her cousins did, too. They all go to the same school and are even in the same class. When Emma refers to her cousins, she simply says “My Friends”, even though they are her cousins to her they are just friends. We are so happy to see them together, because they do truly love each other.
And it is even a very cute scene with the three of them walking down the hall holding hands, because they remind me (at least) of three little old ladies with their walking pace and they sometimes bicker like them, too.
Today, was just like any other day, with the three holding hands as they waited to walk down the hall to their classroom for school to begin. One of their classmates, another little girl (I will call her Veronica), was standing with her mom. I have spoken to this mother a handful of times now and she always tells me that Veronica talks about Emma often at home. Well, Veronica was standing there and wanted to hold hands with the three “Heathers”. If you have seen the movie Heathers, then you probably know where I am going with this. The Heathers, of course, wanted nothing to do with Veronica and she stood there dejected hiding behind her mother.
My heart broke for Veronica, because quite frankly I was her when I was younger and was never one of the popular kids. I also was embarrassed and ashamed of Emma, because I have never raised her to be this type of person and have always encouraged her to be outgoing (she was ubber shy even up to last year), but to be a kind and warm person, too.
In my defense, I tried, by the way, to include Veronica, by telling Emma that they were in the same class and why not hold her hand, too. My “Heather” wanted no part of it and was left me more than a bit shocked and upset. She went into class and I stayed behind to speak to Veronica’s mother, who was nothing short of gracious and even totally understanding that the three girls did indeed grow up together. But still, I came home feeling terrible and even mentioned it to Kevin, when he called from work. He was just as appalled and was thankfully on the same page as me on this. We both even discussed how we were truly not part of that in-crowd and remembered what that felt like way back when.
At dinnertime, we sat down with Emma and Kevin started the conversation and asked, “Why were you being mean to your friend Veronica at school today?”
“She isn’t my friend and only the Heathers are (yes, she said her cousins names, but go with my Heathers analogy here),” Emma said with a straight face.
“Emma that isn’t nice and Veronica is your friend, too. She is a very nice little girl and you aren’t to be mean or hurt her,” Kevin tried explaining to our very apathetic child.
“Well, she isn’t my friend,” Emma said more forcefully.
“You are not to say that and if you continue to be fresh and hurtful to her, you will be going straight to bed and no Santa either,” Kevin now having to more forceful and threatening.
“No, I don’t want to go to bed,” Emma crying a bit now.
“Then, you better be nice to Veronica and don’t let me hear that you aren’t. If she wants to hold your hand, then you hold her hand. If she wants play with you, then you play with her and make sure to include her. How would you feel if no one wanted to play with you?”, Kevin asked her.
“I would cry and feel bad,” Emma said a bit shy now.
“That is how you are making Veronica feel. You don’t want her to feel bad or cry, right?”, Kevin asked trying to reason with her.
“No, daddy I don’t,” Emma answered in a low tone.
After their conversation was over, Kevin and I agreed that we need to keep a better eye on the situation and even try to set up a play date, so that Emma play with Veronica more and get to know her better. It is ironic, because another blogger friend from Oh Boy Mom was just talking about The Mercy Playdate and how her son wanted nothing to do with it, but how in the end it turned out more than fine and her son enjoyed himself. I even commented that I didn’t think I would have to deal with this for a few years. I guess I was off by a couple of years. But I will say this, I do not want my daughter to be a Heather and to be hurtful to other kids her age and will do anything I can in my power to make sure of this.
Here is the infamous scene from Heathers where, Veronica meets JD:
Even though this article was written and published over three years ago, I am linking it up with 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion today to spread this month’s theme with continuing to work toward a better world with a particular focus on Building from Bullying, as well as the broader topic of compassion.
You can join the movement here.