My 6-year-old daughter, Bo, had a tough time this afternoon.
We have a new neighbour and, very often, Bo stands outside for as long as she can manage, calling her name, hoping that she will come to the window and agree to play.
Often, when she does this, they end up spending time together happily.
But today was different. Her new friend was having a playdate and wasn't interested in playing. Not only that, she and her friend laughed and whispered at the window as Bo stood with her heart on her sleeve, waiting to see if they would both come and play.
I spent the next half an hour with a very, very sad girl snuggled into my lap. She was able to tell me how bad it felt to feel someone whispering about her and making fun of her. And she was able to sob her way through all the other things that had been upsetting her recently too. Friends who had criticised her drawings, people who had said unkind things.
We had a chat about times when I had been through similar experiences. Usually this is what she wants to hear about. Really, of course, she wants to hear any version of 'I have been through this and I am here and I am strong and you'll get through it too' - so Robert and I tell stories of hard times with friends that we overcame.
After about half an hour, she began to come back to herself and within a few moments she was outside on the wall trying to get the girl who lives on the other side to come and play! So she definitely got through most of the feeling.
And all this got me thinking. Of course, it is uncomfortable when someone is unkind to someone we love. AND I have to say, I love how these things give us all a chance to join together, to really stop and be present to each other and to reaffirm what we think is important.
Because, actually, what is important to me is that Bo knows her worth from the inside as much as possible. It is important to me that she knows how to be vulnerable. That she takes risks. That she tells people she loves them after spending one afternoon with them. That she is willing to stand outside the house for half an hour calling someone's name.
Because that is what we get talked out of, so that we don't get hurt - so that we keep ourselves protected and our hearts under wraps.
We are supposed to be 'cool' about these things. Coolness is the armour we are taught to wear and it makes us unkind and stand-offish and aloof.
I know because I survived much of my school life by disguising myself as one of the 'cool' people in an attempt to escape the ridicule and whispers. But I ended up feeling very empty and had to fight to get my heart back.
We need to stay vulnerable and keep our hearts on our sleeves. And we need to help our children do the same. And we need to support them when they get hurt and affirm their strength and wonderful-ness when others are being cool and unkind.
Because the 'cool' people are just vulnerable people with their armour on. And they need to see the other path that is available too.