can differences divide?

divided_highway_ahead

This summer our girls attended Girl Scout day camp.  This was their 3rd year there.  It is a great full-day camp that runs for 9 days in the hills of Berkeley in Tilden Park.  What was especially nice this summer, is at this camp our girls can reconnect with some of their friends from the town we used to live and moved from over a year ago.

It’s taken me a bit to digest the first week of this summer camp and why I’m sharing now in late September.

It was quite a surprise when it happened, the differences that were making a GREAT divide.  You see my eldest daughter was reunited with most of the girls from her previous Girl Scout troop at camp something she really looked forward to.  This was a troop that had started in kindergarten and one we were part of through part of 2nd grade even after we had moved.  So both she and I were caught off guard with the questions one of our friends was asking, almost taunting both my daughter and I about.  “Are you adopted?” she asked each of us, first A during the camp day and then me at pick up “Isn’t A adopted?”.  I could see A was upset at pick up and realized as soon as I was approached by this girl that that may be the reason.  You see our family was built through adoption and we make no secret about it and this girl having been part of our circle of friends knew this.  So I pressed her what was her sudden interest, was there something she wanted to know about how we became a family?, who all our family was? why was she taunting us as she asked?

At 8 years old, A can choose who and what she shares about our family story.  She knows how our family was built, she knows and has ongoing relationships with ALL her family.  She chooses at this age not to always talk about it.  Our story is not a secret but a private family matter.  So being questioned like this was upsetting to her and me. Furthermore, this girl went on to tell everyone in their group at camp.  That truly was the most upsetting part.  Who was she to retell A’s story?  What did she get from telling the other girls?   Why did she feel this need to make A feel different from the group?  This was not very Girl Scout like for sure.  Her actions were creating differences that ultimately could divide the group and we still had many days of camp left to go.

When I was approached by this girl, my daughter’s friend, I asked her why? why was she asking this day?  Was there something she really wanted to know?  I am happy to explain more about our family make up and use it as an educational moment, but that didn’t seem to be what she wanted.

I wanted this to stop.  No one should try to divide a group and make anyone feel different.  I asked A if I could call her friend’s mother to let her know what was going on.  She agreed that it would be ok.  I did make the call, I did explain all that I had tried to share with her daughter trying to make it a positive by turning it into an educational moment about how families can be made differently.  She apologized for her daughter but her daughter never apologized to either of us.

This incident left me wondering, was this the start of others looking at our family so differently that they wanted us to feel that way, to divide us from others? Then I thought how do we better prepare our daughters for this?  How do we protect their hearts when someone is asking with the type of intent that hurts?

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