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Backbiters: Lessons For Alicia (or me)

Alicia came from school yesterday crying. I was at my laptop drafting a letter when she walked in, eyes swollen like sponges that had been soaked in tears, lips quivering, and body hot. I almost flung my laptop on the floor. I ran to her and knelt down, adjusting my glasses and pulling the back of my top down. ‘What’s wrong baby?’ I asked her. I looked up to my driver, Bernice, and asked her ‘What happened?’ She shrugged, Also  looking worried.

Hey, look at me. Alicia! Look at me!‘ I said. She did. ‘What on earth happened to you? Did someone hurt you?’ 

Yes mama.’ she replied sniffing.

I lifted her,  took her to the living room couch, and put her against my chest hoping that my racing heart would not break her head to pieces. ‘Talk to me baby. Who hurt you?’ 

Them‘ she whispered. ‘Dola and Tolani and Meredith’ 

Those were her three girlfriends. They are children to our family friends.

How did they hurt you? ‘ I asked.

They spoke nasty things behind my back. They said my head is so big, it could house the Atlantic. They said my nose, so tiny it could pass through a needle. They said I’m not smart, that I only get lucky every time in  the exams. They said no boy would ever love me because boys only loved women and I’m not a woman. They said… ‘ she went on and on and on.

I listened to my 7 year old rant. I let her pour out everything that hurt her. I let her cry and sob as I held her against my chest.

When she was done, I pulled her up and made her look at me.’ Those were really mean things to say. They should not have said those things about you. And guess what? Nothing they said was even true. All lies. You’re beautiful and amazing. You’re smart and your husband would be honored to marry you. You know that right? ‘ she nodded unsure.

‘But mama,’ she pushed  ‘why would they do that? They are my friends. Why would they go behind me and say those nasty things?’ 

I smiled for a while before I kissed my daughter on her forehead. ‘I’m sorry to say this honey, but the’ why‘ is not really an important question. Let me give you a more important information: Those girls are only backbiters because they’re behind you. You’re ahead of them, if not, they won’t be back biting about you’

It was one of  those moments when I feel like what I’m doing is bad parenting, and yet, I like what I’m doing.

Alicia was grinning from cheek to cheek as she said ‘That’s true mama’. She gave me a tight hug and hopped down from my legs. She simply went to play.

I smiled and watched her till she made it out of my study.

I went back to my letter and completed it: ‘In conclusion, you know what?  I do not care why you went ahead to defame my name to the managing director. I’m going to send you this mail, but know that I really don’t care. I have learned a valuable lesson this evening and I’m glad you’re helping me test it. Have a great day, backbiter.’

I hit send.

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