Michelle Icard, an author and parenting expert, begins every day the way every mother should — with a giant cup of caffeine at Starbucks. But this week, the mother of two says a conversation happening between some young women about another classmate at the next table stopped her in her tracks.
According to Icard, “They were so loud and I was crawling out of my skin — I was so physically bothered by what they were saying. […] They were bashing [this girl] over what was clearly a popularity issue. I kept thinking, ‘This is going to stop, one of them will say something to redeem themselves.'”
When that didn’t happen, she took matters into her own hands.
She took the time to write the girls a letter imploring them to look at the impact their words could have not only to the people they gossiped about, but to their own personal character.
“Hi Girls! I sat near you today in Starbucks and listened as you talked. You three are obviously pretty and hard-working. I wish your kindness matched your pretty exteriors. I heard you talk about a girl who sang a song about being lonely in the talent show — and you laughed. About a girl who couldn’t be lead singer because you got all the votes, about crappy presents other people have given you … and you sounded so mean and petty.
You are smart and you are pretty. It would take nothing from you to also be kind.”
We all know girls gossip. They talk behind people’s backs. It happens. It’s adolescence working itself out as you try to navigate friendships and determine your pecking order in them. But words can be hurtful, and you can’t take them back. As you get older, you begin to realize the ones who talk behind other people’s backs will talk behind yours when given a chance. You begin to choose your friends wisely. And as a mother, you hope and pray your kids will learn this as they mature. Though I still know some grown women who haven’t quite figured this concept out.
I hope Icard’s note resonated with those girls. They are wise words from a mother coming from a place of compassion. They are valuable words to live by for all of us.