Kids can be assholes. Kids can be amazing. Both of these are true.

Hailey has had a lot of battles in the last year and although she’s not ashamed of any of it her struggles are hers to share so I don’t really post details here.  What I can say is that her struggles (like all of ours, in fact) are so much more common than we think.  We all feel alone in our pain, and are so easily convinced of the terrible things our minds tell us.  Add to that the fact that middle school kids can be real bastards sometimes.  They’re finding themselves and sometimes they are racist, homophobic assholes. Sometimes they are shockingly abusive.  Sometimes they are hurting and they lash out at others.  Sometimes they don’t know the damage they are doing to others, or are just afraid to stand up against the crowd.  And sometimes they’re just fuckers.  This is a big part of why Hailey will be taking online classes next year rather than going back to public school and although we all know it’s the right choice (and Hailey is very excited about it) I worry about her not being able to explore her personality out in the world.

We decided to look into other activities that she can do, like volunteering or community theater and one of the things she wanted to do was this Rock camp that she got a partial scholarship for last year.  I was really, really scared to let her go.  She so much stronger than I am but she’s still fragile, and naive and far too trusting and easily hurt and I honestly didn’t want her to go but she was so sure she could do it.

So yesterday she flew to Kansas to attend camp.  (KANSAS, y’all.)   I got some nervous texts from her but mostly she was quiet and I was on edge and pretended I was totally fine but when my phone dinged at 2am I jumped out of bed certain I was going to have to fly to Kansas to get her.

But instead she texted that she couldn’t sleep because she was happy to have found such amazing people to learn from and learn with.  She told me that she’d gotten on stage and sang Pi Jesu in front of everyone and got a standing ovation.  She told me that her singing teacher loved the audition she sent in (that she worked on for so many hours she lost her voice) so much that she gave her a solo.  She said that so many of the kids were so kind and supportive and weird but in a good way and that no one gave her shit for being too strange or too emotional or too gay.  And I texted back that I wasn’t surprised because I think most people are awesome if given the chance but in real life I cried a bit in relief and I wanted to go out and hug every damn person who was kind to her and then send a giant box of free tacos to all those kids’ parents.

I’m not sure what my point here is but I just wanted to say that if you are a kid who is nice to other kids, you are important.  You make a difference.  Not just to the people you are around but to the friends and family of those you touch.  If you are a parent who encourages kindness and acceptance in your kid then you are doing an amazing job.  And I know it’s hard.  No one is perfect.  Not me.  Not you.  None of us.  We keep learning and keep trying and we fail and excel and we create positivity (or negativity) that ripples out in extraordinary ways.  And if you are a kid (or adult) struggling to find your place or to find kindness in the world, know that you are not alone and that you will find your people.  I promise.  They are out there.  Kindness isn’t as loud as anger so it doesn’t get the same press but if you look for it you will find it eventually.  And until then you can create it for others.

Please keep trying.  Because yesterday a girl experienced kindness and acceptance in Kansas and it rippled all the way back to Texas where I’m passing it along to you all over the world.  You make a difference.  And it’s up to you what kind of difference that will be.

This morning this was on the instagram feed.  Hailey is in the back row, second to the right.  She has a giant smile on her face.  It is the same one I have when I watch it.  And maybe you internet aunts and uncles will have it too:


239 thoughts on “Kids can be assholes. Kids can be amazing. Both of these are true.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Chills…just the amazing voices and the beauty of a pea finding its pod:) GOOD on you and GOOD on Hailey:) And as always – thanks for sending me a smile – much needed at the end of a BORING dreary day!!

  2. Theater and choir were always the places that I found acceptance. Glad Hailey is finding the same ❤️

  3. That’s awesome. I live in Kansas City. It seems like a small, closed-minded place but really, just like everywhere else, if you know where to look it’s a great big open gay-friendly city.

  4. I needed this today. Hurray for Hailey!! And hurray for all kind people everywhere.

  5. Thumbs way, way up to Hailey, and all her new friends! I’m so happy that she’s finding one of her places in this weird, wonderful, stressful, amazing world ours.

  6. This made me smile so big. Middle school was such a horrible time for me, and I know what a huge difference it can make to find kind and kindred spirits. I hope her time at rock camp continues to rock!

  7. no. i am not crying. there is something in my eye. you stop it.

  8. Theater/choir kids are some of the best kids
    Soak in the weird sister friend! ❤

  9. Ah, good for her! That camp looks very cool. I find that arty sort of kids are generally more accepting of any and everyone (and I’ve worked with kids professionally for many years). If I had to theorize, I think it’s because the very nature of art is putting yourself out there and these kids are more open and accepting because of that. They know what it’s like to risk. My kid goes to a summer drama camp offered through a university that is the most accepting place I have EVER in my life seen. The tears when these kids leave is something to see! My kid doesn’t struggle with much beyond the norm but I know some families speak of the camp literally saving their child’s life. Unfortunately, the camp is in western Canada, but if you want info for next year, let me know. You and Victor can roam the mountains (where there are no crowds as long as you stay out of a couple major tourist places – and I can direct you to prime spots) while Hailey does her thing and then pick her up at the end. Or just send her. It’s not even an expensive camp!

  10. LOVE!!!!! Assholes start out somewhere and I firmly believe, as I was a child myself once, that it is in, oh, say elementary school. YAY for Hailey for putting herself out there and DOUBLE YAY for the wonderful kids who are encouraging her at campschool – purposefully one word.

  11. Yay for the arts! My daughter (who spent middle school hiding in the music room organizing music so she didn’t have to enter the lunch room) went to an arts school. She has found a voice there, along with other kids who are just as weird as her in all kinds of wonderful ways. I think you guys are going to do awesome – you’re aware of her need to explore who she is in the world, and provide her with just enough challenges to let her grow.

  12. That. Is. Beautiful. Thank you, Thank Hailey, Thank all the lovely children & staff in Kansas. Warms my heart & soul after a very long weekend of ennui.

  13. I thought it was a rock-climbing camp. Rock camp sounds like a lot more fun. Many kids in the arts are decent human beings and get it if you aren’t what I call a “vanilla person.”

  14. This makes me so happy!! I had to leave school for awhile for the same reason. And it took me until college to find my people as a music student. Hailey is so strong, kind, and talented! I needed to read and see this today. Hailey is an inspiration! 🥰♥️

  15. She’s got an Internet Aunt here in Kansas that would definitely help if needed for anything. Truly.

    But I’m so happy she’s having an amazing time here in the Heartland! May she bring back with her new skills, new friendships, and stellar memories!

  16. Big hugs for Hailey and for you, Mama, sitting at home and worrying. And a huge shout-out to all those kids who were kind and welcoming and to their parents, who raised them right. So nice to hear good news for a change. Have a wonderful time at camp, Hailey!

  17. Wonderful! I am so happy Hailey is happy and finding people who recognize and value her for who she is. And so talented!

  18. This gives me hope for my much-younger, trusting, sweet, queer, loving child who is already getting bullied for who she is. <3

  19. My life goes on in endless song
    Above earth´s lamentations,
    I hear the real, though far-off hymn
    That hails a new creation.
    Through all the tumult and the strife
    I hear its music ringing,
    It sounds an echo in my soul.
    How can I keep from singing?

    Keep singing from your heart, Hailey.

  20. She’s with her peeps, MOM. The hardest thing is to let them go for what they love, even though we’re afraid of the hard knocks. I think it hurts us more than them. Those kids are obviously her friends for life. So happy for her and relieved for you.

  21. You better believe I smiled and cried through the whole thing. She’s such a phenomenal human being. Love to her and her mama. You guys keep me sane in times when my mind is pulling in a different direction.

  22. Yes, Hailey! Yes, kids! Virtual tacos for everybody!

    P.S.: Jenny, does Hailey watch Supernatural? Because that’s one of the songs that made a mark on the show.

    (I think she’s seen a few but not all of them. ~ Jenny)

  23. My kid found her tribe in theatre. It’s the place to be when you’re “too strange or too emotional or too gay” because they all are. I’m grateful for those kids, and I’ll fight for every one of them. <3

  24. My son just started virtual school this year and it’s made all the difference in the world. He’s generally a really social kid but traditional school where kids with severe adhd don’t always thrive just wasn’t this thing. After he finishes his school day he immediately wants to go hang out with his friends so he doesn’t seem to have skipped a beat as far as the social aspect is concerned. Granted he’s in high school and many of his friends are driving so that makes a difference. I’m so glad there are options for our “babies”! Go Hailey, go!

  25. Oh that is so fantastic! Kids can be so unknowingly cruel at that age….Hailey is such a beautiful, talented young woman and I’m so happy for her and you and your husband! Now take a deep breath, and smile, and have a nice glass of wine! You deserve it!

  26. Love this! I hear you, Momma. Seeing a pure smile on my kids face melts my heart every time!

  27. How wonderful that Hailey is finding her voice, as it were, in music. Singing has been the salve for my soul, all my life. I hope she finds that to be true also.

    Your remarks about kind kids reminded me of our old neighborhood in Buffalo. My firstborn would sometimes take a break from his brother and best buds and go play with a younger boy down the street. His parents told me that they loved to have Carter come to visit, because he always played so nicely with their son; that he played fair, and didn’t cheat, and was nice when it counted. It has always warmed my heart to have other parents let me know that my kids knew how to be decent human beings when they weren’t at home. Here’s to Hailey finding good friends.

  28. I would add to your list that these kids are at the age where the parents aren’t ten feet tall anymore. They are learning that some of the things their parents told them need to be examined. “Is this what I believe, too? Or do I believe something else?” And sometimes the larger world is telling them that their parents have failings and shortcomings. Maybe this is news to the kid.
    I had one friend who always offered me sanctuary, food and a place to sleep when my parents got too dangerous. It was still too hard to focus on school and making friends when I was Day 3 of wearing the same clothes, but I wasn’t outside. Her family never asked me frightening questions or pronounced judgement of my family. They just passed the vegetables and let me go to church with them on Sundays. It’s decades later but they are still heroes to me. Hailey’s probably around kids like onetime me. Angry, scared kids who hit out, or feel that if they say cruel things, then no one will attack them. Contrition will come later.
    Today, the more Hailey focuses on herself and expanding as an artist, the more chance those hurt and hurtful kids will have, to compare their state and step out of their bad start.

  29. “Internet aunt” is the PERFECT description for how I feel about Hailey. From waaaaay back when she was a toddler in Mama Drama, it’s been amazing to watch her grow into such a fantastic human. Love this. Love you. Love. ~mk

  30. Back when I was in middle school it was hellish. Elementary school ended with grade 6. High school started at grade 9. Some genius thought it would be a great idea to put grade 7 & 8 students in their own school (not real common here). It was Lord of the Flies. School of gremlins. Survival of the meanest. At least some of the bullies & mean kids got knocked down a peg when they entered grade 9 at the bottom of the food chain with the rest of us and most of them reverted to nice kids as highschool went on. So glad Haley found a tribe that she can be herself in. The 2am text brought happy tears to my eyes. Tribes matter and I think interest groups provide more opportunity for personal growth & development than standard institutions like school. So if she is pursuing things like this while homeschooled, I think she will get the interaction she needs in a more positive character-building, life-affirming, supportive environment. I wish I’d had that opportunity. So kudos to the parents of the kids at the camp. And kudos to you for letting her go there.

  31. My brother once said, “I knew there was a lid for that jar,” to describe a socially awkward co-worker who had at long last found a perfectly awkward girlfriend.

    I love that way of putting it.

    Hailey has found her lid!

    (I LOVE this phrase. ~ Jenny)

  32. My tribe in High School were the band/theater/art kids. We reveled in our weirdness and supported each other throughout our teen age years. And you know what? Even though they are scattered about the country, they’re still some of my closest friends. Yay for Hailey for finding her tribe.

  33. I am so happy this happened for Hailey, my heart is near bursting! May the rest of her life be as wonderful as this moment.

  34. SO glad for you and Haley! As a mother, boy do I get your fears for her, and congratulations for being brave with her! Mts

  35. As a mama of a 15 year old that has struggled so much in what sounds like the same ways as Hailey, this made me cry big ole happy tears. Way to go, Hailey – keep on rocking.

  36. This is exactly what I needed to hear about today. I encountered one of those fucker types at a party on Saturday. I was told that I am too old, unemployable, with the wrong education, and no relevant experience in my industry. While I know none of those things are true, it just sucked to hear it from someone who kept following me around the party telling me in more detail about my alleged shortcomings, despite just meeting me. So yeah, there are folks out there who don’t grow out of it. But here’s to those who do, who become lovely people who try their best to be kind. So glad that Hailey is having a great time- your family is wonderful.

  37. I love that you are a mama mountain lion protecting her baby. She is going to be a strong young woman who will persevere through the bs the pinheads throw at her.
    We shouldn’t have to worry about these narrow minded misogynistic poop balls but there ya are.

  38. I’m from a small theater town in Kansas and I’m so glad to hear that she was welcomed by our people.

  39. That camp is not far from where I live. You don’t know me, but if she needs anything while she’s here, give her my email from this comment! I’ll happily rescue her if she needs an escape until you can get here.

  40. Love this! I do cooking programs with kids all year but many in the summer. Mostly attract ages 10 to 15. I have seen so many wonderful kids come together, work together, find new friends, do something that scared them – take a cooking class at the library with strangers. And see how they smile, and are proud and did something on their own. Yes, middle school can be particularly hard. Bit then you see some particularly good.

  41. I’m a loud, brash, tell ’em like it is, cynical type person and I befriended the nicest person in the history of this state. I cherish that person like the rare unicorn he is. I want to send his mother a box of tacos every day for raising him. Those kind kids grow up to be kind adults and they shine a beacon of light on the rest of us when the world grows dim. We need to nurture and support those people! And of course, send boxes of tacos to everyone! Tacos for everyone!

  42. Oh that made me laugh and sort of ‘cry’…….Fantastic Hailey!!! And good on you Jenny for letting her go!!

  43. When I was a kid my mom got called in to see my teacher because apparently I would befriend the kids no one would talk to. Apparently this was not good because the popular kids didn’t like when I did that. True f***ing story my mom said she’s proud that I did that and she wouldn’t be telling me any different. I still do that and while it sometimes blows up in my face ohhh well

  44. Wishing all the best for Hailey.

    I think parents can instill a lot of that kindness in their children. My niece had cancer and died at age 3. The mom of one of her Montessori classmates would bring her daughter to visit and play in the hospital even having to explain the baldness and tubes. She also brought her for the funeral. To be willing to expose your 2-3 year old to that is something a lot of people couldn’t do. I know her little girl won’t remember those events, but I have to believe with a mom like that that she has grown into an amazing young woman. She would be 17 now. Sending gratitude to both her and her mom.

  45. This made me happy cry! I wasn’t having a great day, and this was really special. Thank you.

  46. She’s here in my town! I have no doubt with your support she will find her people and herself. It’s so scary and amazing to see them grow up.

  47. What a great post!! Hailey is obviously in her element there and that’s a good thing! I hope she enjoys every moment and I hope you can relax a bit now and know she’s in good hands. oxoxoxo

  48. This makes me so happy!!! Music and band were where I found my people. She has such an amazing voice! I’m just so glad she’s happy! Life is weird and difficult for us all at times. I hope she knows that she has a lot of love and support here. You’re doing great, momma! ❤️😊

  49. Rock Camp. At first, I thought she was rock climbing. Holy crap. So relieved that she’s singing! She’ll be fine.

  50. Austin has LOTS of acapella groups and a girls’ chorus group that might be worth checking out-

    I was so lucky to find my tribe in theater in the 8th grade. Kept me sane through high school (band and chorus too, but theater was the safe place to truly be myself).

    Hoping your sprog finds her tribe too.

  51. Yay, Hailey! You are an awesome young lady. Jenny, you are an awesome mom! I’m so happy that she is so happy there.

  52. I am so glad that she is finding her people! Middle school is horrible for so many people. It nearly killed my son. It is wonderful that you guys can disengage. She is going to have plenty of time to socialize and be who she is with other people. Homeschool is a great choice!

  53. My son is the Program Director for a Music & Drama Camp (MAD Camp) in the mountains of Virginia. He grew up going to this camp for eight years (ages 7-15 … he’s 21 now). AND he spent five years of his life growing up in Kansas! (Army Family). Kansas people are the best people! So happy for you and Hailey!!

  54. For future reference, something I learned teaching; weird kids do better if you send them to places populated with other weird kids so they can all be weird together. It helps if the adults are all weird too. So I recommend a lot of bohemians and D&D.

  55. So happy for her and you, Mama! We have some awesomely kind, sweet, strange folks here in Oz that she was bound to run into. There’s no place like home, and there’s no place like camp!

  56. This is wonderful. For Hailey and for you.
    My daughter was hassled so much in m.k iddle school because middle school kids are assholes in human skin.
    She found her tribe in high school and then more in college.
    Knowing she was always loved and her uniqueness appreciated in her family helped her stable stable and independent.
    Good on you for trusting your kid’s inner path. Go Hailey! Rock your stuff!!

  57. Oh, how marvelous!!! She looks like she’s found her “tribe.” That’s what made those years golden for me (even with the bullies and the hate and the rest — I still look back and only see those good times…!) All the love and hugs to Hailey!

  58. As someone who Still has nightmares about junior H.S. Bullying and has zero forgiveness for them in my heart at 50yrs old do not second guess yourself in this. Really.
    -amy whynotgrl666

  59. This makes me so happy! Middle school was a nightmare for me and My heart has gone out to you through all of this. When I was teaching I always told my students people where going to remember to names of people who were mean to them and those who were very kind and it was up to them what kind of person they want to be.

  60. I’m not one to usually comment or reply, I just enjoy reading the positivity here. But this teared me up. I’m so happy for you and your daughter, to both have found some happiness and peace.

  61. I’m in Missouri. If you need someone to go fetch her let me know! Seriously, she’ll do great!

  62. There were a few kids throughout school who were nice to me. I remember them fondly although most of them I have never seen again.
    Kindness ripples. Keep the ripples flowing.

  63. My boys are lovely and kind and I hope I did something to help with that. I think they are just great gifts, and god is generous. They have always stuck up for those being bullied and been friends with the “weird” kids. I’m so sorry Hailey was not well treated, and happy she’s found a great place to be herself.

  64. I was bullied in high school… so badly that I came home crying every day for a year.

    I found my people and my happiness in a performing art school in Liverpool. For the first time, I was around peers who accepted me and all my weirdness – and I returned a whole new person.
    I went to SUNY Purchase, part of the state university of New York…. if Hailey continues to love the arts and performing arts, I would highly recommend this school. It’s got a wonderful, inclusive atmosphere, a giant LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 population and every kind of weird, creative soul you could possibly hope for 🙂

  65. That’s fantastic! I’m glad she’s having a good time. Way better than the songs we sang at Girl Scout camp (nothing against GS, I loved it).

  66. Love love love it! Good on both of you, and on those kids with her.

  67. Damn. This hit so close to home for me. Yesterday we dropped our 17 year old fabulously quirky daughter off for a three week art camp for which she had also received a partial scholarship. She has never attended an overnight camp in her life and this is so far outside of her comfort zone. Like Hailey we had to pull our daughter from traditional school because the bullying was cruel and out of control, and as her doctor said at the time when discussing pulling her from school, “If you don’t you are going to lose her.” I have been worried beyond words thinking about all of the “what if…?” as the date got closer. Well, we are more than 24 hours in and the only correspondence from her has been, “It’s going great. My roommates are cool and it’s not nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be.” “Everything has been good so far. Thank you for letting me have this opportunity.” And her one and only communication today was at 7 a.m. when she texted,”remind me again where my medicine is?” and since then nothing. Glorious silence. She is happy. I cannot describe the relief. As a friend reminded me, artistic kids are far more accepting of differences, it is far more likely to be an accepting and safe environment than a cheerleading camp per se. I am so happy for our girls. I am so relieved for us moms. Our girls have found their people and are going to soar!

  68. Your daughter is AMAZING!!! She’s your daughter after all, but as moms we still feel that overwhelming urge to protect them from any and everything.

  69. Without being completely sure what town/city in Texas you guys live in (I have a general sense of where you live, but not the exact town/neighborhood), I can say that sometimes even when you are in a large, populated area, it’s somehow oddly difficult to find your tribe. And of course, in a smaller place, even more so. Sometimes it takes a trip far, far away from where you are from to find people with similar interests. And a themed camp like the one Hailey is attending is the perfect place to meet people you would otherwise have no contact with. So hooray that Hailey is away at camp, and hooray that she is happy to have met the other campers and has found them to be accepting and supportive. I sense that she is about to make a bunch of life long friends. And I hope this eases all of the (understandable) worries that you and Victor had when you decided to let her leave her current school. Her social life will not be hindered by your decision. It will only improve.

    I had a completely shitty week and this blog post has really lifted my spirits.

  70. I’ll take credit for teaching my kids that kindness trumps enlightenment. And one loves who they love…

  71. I loved everything about this. Sometimes it’s hard to see the kindness in the world… but oh what a wonderful feeling when you get to experience/see it! You made me get all puddly-eyed. :}

  72. Being a music nerd myself, from 5th grade on, and all through my 30’s and 40’s, and being also a citizen of small town Kansas, May I say never once did I encounter racism or homophobic attitudes in choir, band, orchestra, or drama class. Perhaps because this is where the kids who were often outliers of the norm found acceptance. We were all a bit weird… but in creative, interesting ways! So glad Hailey is having a good time among her people!

  73. First, amazing job Hailey! So glad she’s finding her tribe!

    Second, Yup. Middle school kids can be assholes. It’s funny. A couple of the boys in my daughter’s friend group are gay/questioning/whatever the right terms are. My mom asked me earlier in the year if other boys give them trouble about it. I told her that sometimes they do, but generally the girls won’t allow it. I’m proud to say my daughter is one of those girls that won’t put up with that BS.

    Here’s to more kids being kind to each other.

  74. Sometimes you just find your people. I am so happy for her. And for her parents, too. <3

  75. Back in 2011, our youngest went to a 2 week summer high school writing program. She’s now 2 years post college graduation and has stayed close friends with 3 of the girls, including now rooming with one of them in NYC where they both live now. For our kiddos who march to their own drum, it is such a gift to help them find their people in middle & high school when we can.

  76. This was like reading my own journal entry. I vividly remember the relief I felt when my daughter called after her 1st day at a performing arts school. She was in a strange town, new school, and I was terrified. I’m sure she was as well. She loved it! She said she’d never met such wonderful, accepting people.
    She gave up her happy place to earn a degree to, I think, please me and her dad. But she’s never lost her love of performing, and she’s plunging headlong in to California next month. Another new town. I’m terrified. I’m sure she is too. But like Hailey, I think she’ll crush it. And we have to let them try. Hoping she runs in to some wonderful, kind people.

  77. My daughter is also a unique soul, who has had to work to find people who can appreciate her in all her uniqueness. Although it has been hard, I also think it has given her a great deal of open heartedness and acceptance.

    During high school, she befriended a boy who was also marching to his own drummer. He had left school early to attend classes at the community college instead. When he decided that he wanted to transition to being a girl, she supported her friend. Eventually they began dating. After a few years, her friend decided to transition back to being a male. Through it all, they have continued dating. She says she cares about her friend for her/himself, and she doesn’t care what gender they are. I’m so proud of her. I have no doubt that Hailey will also return the acceptance and love she has been shown back into the world many times over. What a blessing!

  78. Congrats to Hailey!
    Also much love to all the kind kids, parents, grammies, aunties, ooncles, chosen fam that helped guide said kiddos towards compassion and joy.
    Kudos and tacos, y’all.

  79. My kid was diagnosed on the autism spectrum recently. She’s only 2, but I know the stigma surrounding it and silently fear the coming school years (she starts preschool in September). I pray that she finds her tribe just like Hailey is finding hers. Kids can be cruel, but they can also be kind. Thank you for the reminder.

  80. YAASSSSSSS, ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS (mostly because of how it was used in a particularly awesome Supernatural episode Hahaha). The Midwest is weird. I grew up in Kansas, and it was not a good place for me. But things change, or so I’ve heard I’ve heard from many LGBTQ+ folks in the Twitter #Exvangelical community.

  81. Hailey is awesome and you’re awesome and music is awesome! Thank y’all for making life even more incredible!

  82. Oh I actually cried in a cafe. There needs to be a new name for Joy and Relief. Jolief, jolief, jolief…jolieeeeeef (dolly, anyone?). Rejoy? Or is that where the word rejoice comes from? This internet Aunty is so proud, and this internet sister is so joliefed for you.

    You are navigating these waters well, stargazer. Keep going.

  83. If Hailey enjoys theatre, I highly recommend speech and debate. It is one of the most accepting and tolerant activities for high school students. Lots of kindness and acceptance and strangeness and emotion and orientation differences, where students can use their voice and not be harassed for it. She’d fit in really well.

  84. Jenny, I have so much love and respect for the way you respect Hailey’s boundaries and self. And I swear when I read “Rock camp” I was expecting rappelling and climbing.

  85. I love words, but the way you put them together is always surprising and delightful. Thanks!

  86. Is it strange that as a weirdo and a mom of weirdos I get tears in my eyes when I see kids find their joy like this?? I love it when they find their people. It’s like, their life is about to REALLY start. And it’s going to be so goddamn good. Sending you all the love. Nice job, mom. <3

  87. You’re right, middle schoolers can be bastards, but there are some awesome ones too! I’m glad Hailey found some of the good ones. I almost got derailed in middle school by some shitty friends, but all it took was meeting one or two book nerds and I realized I’d found my people 🙂 Thanks Jenny.

  88. So glad that Hailey is enjoying camp! I went to music camps every summer from age11-17 and then worked at one of them every summer for the next 5 years. Best. Time.Of. My. Life. 🙂

    And yes, middle schoolers can be total assholes (for a variety of reasons) to their peers — and their teachers. That’s why I said, “Enough!” this year and got the hell out of teaching after 30 years.

  89. I was bullied, too. It gets so, so much better. Sending love from the other side.

  90. Consider checking out 4-H in your area. We are in NJ but it has been experience that individuality is welcome, and even encouraged!

  91. Oh man, I want a shirt that says this!

    “if you are a kid who is nice to other kids, you are important.”

  92. Totally teared up reading and watching this and reading the comments! I love how relentlessly positive it is here. It’s so needed in the world right now and I’m glad to see it!

  93. I was bullied a lot in school for being fat. I would have given anything to get out. I finally did, a couple of months into my senior year. I went to ‘independent study’ (which is what they sent the pregnant girls to), and I graduated by Easter that following spring. I had a job, I got away from the peer pressure, and it changed my life. I always vote in favor of saving your kid from being terrorized.

  94. I took home/online school twice due to bullying. Part of 6th grade (when I got suspended and would’ve been expelled if my mom hadn’t pulled me out of the school herself) for fighting back when attacked, the attackers weren’t even punished. And most of 8th grade, because we weren’t sure where we were going to live, and moved several hours distance multiple times in the year.

    Those were my best years. I finished all my course work 3 months early in 8th grade, and took extra electives during the extra months that changed my life.

    I truly wish I’d stayed in distance education for the rest of my schooling. I would’ve gotten better grades and wouldn’t have become a drop out from continued bullying. I went from gifted to failing core classes from how bad it was. I got threatened with a weapon, for doing nothing at all. I was even bullied by a few teachers.
    She can join extra curricular activities through a community centre to get her socializing in. That way she can choose who she spends her time with based on shared interests, instead of just geographic location and birth year.
    I’m so happy you’re letting her guide her own education in the way that feels safest for her soul. Continue to do that. Some of us aren’t meant for forced socialization being combined with our education. While I was homeschooled I was gifted a book that is seemingly no longer in print. “The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education”
    I think it would be a good read for any parent trying to decide between homeschooling or traditional schooling. I much preferred official distance education over parent-led homeschooling (my mother was also a university TA, and her expectations were far beyond an 11 year old’s capabilities) but obviously that’s different between children.

  95. Yay Hailey! And whew for mom! my now 23yo daughter who is also gay but was very shy as a kid going to camps I always worried even though often were sports camps that helped her focus on a task vs social part. There would always be someone she met who made it easier. And the best thing for me was I would hear she was the kid who went and sat with someone having a harder time, who was alone or new. I don’t know your Hailey except the great way you have told us about her, but I see your Hailey as that kid even in her struggles will make sure and make another kid feel welcome too. Wishing her an amazing experience this summer and beyond!

  96. YES! YES! YES! Go, Hailey! I found theater when I was in junior high and it changed me life 100% for the better. I have always found the theater to be the most amazingly warm and accepting place. So excited you have found your people!

  97. Way to go Mom – you faced your fears and let her go so that she can go find her tribe in this world. #findyourtribe

  98. When I saw “rock camp” I was all like, ‘sweet, paleontology!”

    Then I realized my error.

  99. How awesome for Hailey; the rundown of the artists that she’ll get to perform with is great! She’s about 20 minutes from where I live and I can say that Kansas isn’t the cow town that some people think it is. 😂 And I totally agree that kids can be assholes! 🤬

  100. I agree that kids who are nice to other kids are important, in fact they are my heroes!! My 8 yr. old grandson is disabled because of a stroke but wanted to do an obstacle course at the local fair. As his mother and I watched from the ground he caused a major back up on the ropes but a group of older boys got involved and helped pull and push him through it. No one complained and everyone encouraged him!! I wanted to hug those boys and find their parents and tell them to be proud!!! And buy them all tacos!! Hoping he and Hailey will continue to find the kind kids!

    P.S. I went to camp as a teen and it is some of my best memories!! Rock on, Hailey!

  101. That’s awesome! But I do have to say that when I read she was going to Rock camp, I immediately thought of actual rocks 😂. I was like “Oh so she’s into Geology and I bet Geology kids are probably a nice bunch”

  102. “I’m not sure what my point here is but I just wanted to say that if you are a kid who is nice to other kids, you are important. You make a difference. ” I SO totally needed this tonight. I’m feeling sort of invisible recently. Would love this on a mug or a shirt. You could have the bear wear it.

  103. Very cool! Although I must admit, you said Rock camp and my brain went, “Oooh! Geology!” Nerd sniped!

  104. That girl. LOVE HER! As always, please give her a big ol’ squishy Mom Hug from all of us internet aunties and uncles. We are all so proud of her, for just being her!

  105. Rock Music! I read rock camp and I thought geology. Because my gay kid is all STEM all the time.Keep smiling y’all.

  106. This is amazing. Also, if you have a School of Rock near you, I can’t recommend it enough. It has given our emotional, unique, shy, but huge personality son an amazing outlet (he’s 13 and will be drumming on Metallica and Anthrax for the summer season:-). Lots of unique kids finding a place to be themselves.

  107. I work at an after school program (we also have preschool during the day) and I can confirm that kids can be real assholes sometimes. But also they can be so real and raw and kind when they have been raised right that it makes my heart explode. Over the last few years I’ve noticed a serious decline in playing for fun with peers to only competitive sports, no real friendships, just business. And when they are doing the sport they are plugged into a video game (normally violent with 0 education to it) or watching random videos for hours. This is our countries greatest shame, kids plugged in and not connecting with peers.

  108. Singing in a choir is one of the great joys in my life and something I’m trying to get my work schedule around to where I can do it again. Go Hailey!

  109. You can’t NOT smile while watching all of the joy Hailey and the other kids are exuding!!

  110. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
    -John A. Shedd

    Jenny, this is just glorious.

  111. I just dropped my introvert off at art camp. I texted her to see if she’d made any friends, and she replied, “yes. We’re all weird.” So glad Hailey has found her people!

  112. I hope she has better luck finding her tribe than I did. Still, I am glad I have mine, even if it took years to gather them all.

  113. As the mother of a soon to be teen daughter who is a little strange, little emotional, a little gay, and starting online school in the Fall over public…this gives me a lot of hope. She’s always struggled with local kids whether it was because she was different or her anxiety. Last year her anxiety was so physically tolling we had to take her to a pediatric gastroenterologist for months before they decided her symptoms and suffering was “just due to anxiety”.

    Since school’s been out she’s been much less sick and much more…alive (though she’s still a nihilistic cynic which she insists is a generational thing 😅) and while she’s excited to start a new type of school and hopefully interact with other “different” kids, she was up worried last night about a friend. She said she was bullied even worse than her and she felt bad for “leaving her alone”. Why do other kids have to make some of hardest phases of life even more unbearable?

    So happy for Hailey and here’s hoping that in the end kindness wins. 🥰

  114. I saw the other day that a cricketer I follow posted a pic of a son with his bronze medal from something at school, which dad said he was proud of, but he was more proud that his son congratulated all the other kids on their medals and that just made me so emotional! Little things like that are so special, just like Hailey.

  115. When you see the people standing up at award shows you have to remember they were the weirdos in school who didn’t fit in, and now they are huge celebrities. Yea for the weirdos.

  116. I love your proud Momma posts so very much. You guys made an awesome kid, who has become an awesome young woman.

  117. THRILLED for Hailey and for you!
    Also, very wise to take her out of that toxic environment. School sucks for most kids. It sucked for me but no one knew it.
    When I taught tenth graders, I’d tell them to just hang on. That once they got out, either into the world or college—fake world-ha- they would be sooo much happier! Then you get to choose your own people just as Hailey has now found hers!
    Congratulations to Hailey for her braveness in stepping into this new world for her!

  118. Go Kansas, aka my state, born, raised, and still living there. I’m glad she’s having a wonderful experience at the camp!

  119. I’m so thrilled for Hailey! Please tell her from me that SHE ROCKS! ♥♥

  120. This is beautiful. So glad she is having fun and in a place she can be her. The joy radiating from the video is powerful.

  121. This is such a wonderful thing to hear about. Good job Hailey for taking the leap, and good job Jenny and Victor for letting her do it.

  122. This is wonderful. Jenny and Victor you are awesome parents! God made us all different for a reason and kids learn to accept that or not accept that from their parents.

  123. Go, Hailey, go!! She found her people. 🙂
    Band, and then marching band was where I found comfort from bullies when I was a teen.

  124. this post reminds me of the saying “having a child means a piece of your heart walks unprotected in the world” it takes real courage to pretend its okay and let those pieces of our heart walk out the door.

  125. You are an awesome mom for letting her do her thing AND study at home. Sometimes that’s the best. I know how to behave in public, I can be polite and make small talk, but that doesn’t prevent the anxiety beforehand or the two days of decompress afterward. By all means look for “real world” social involvement for her, but I have to believe she will find it on her own if you don’t.

  126. Art Camp (Camp Appel in NJ) helped my daughter to find her wings. Her first comment to me was: “Hey mom! Everyone here is JUST LIKE ME!”. My takeaway from that and other parenting experiences is that some kids are just wired differently, in a wonderfully quirky way. They hear music in the wind and see paintings in the stars. They are ahead of their peers when it comes to emotional intelligence. Thankfully, most other kids catch up and turn into kinder adults.

  127. Congratulations to Hailey! Speaking from experience, quirky parents make quirky kids, but they become the most interesting adults! Both of our kids are quirky and have suffered in school. One stopped going for over a year but eventually graduated, with the help of a few great teachers. One is going into 8th grade and transferred last year to a small school full of other fascinating kids and has been happy ever since. They are both sweet souls. I think we need to remember that kids keep developing for many years after high school, which is difficult in our ultra-competitive culture that demands a certain sameness during the school years.

  128. That makes my heart sing. Theater people are typically very accepting. Cheers!

  129. My niece never fit in at her rural high school – too different, too smart. When she was 15 my sister and she took a chance and she sat an exam for an academic selection school in the city. She got accepted and had to go to boarding school. I picked her up on the first weekend to take her out to lunch and she was so happy. First thing she said was, “I found my people”. There was no bullying at the school, because they were all outsiders and knew how it felt. She is now in her 20s and has the loveliest bunch of quirky, colourful, kind and supportive friends. I wish the same for your Hayley hx

  130. I am so happy for both you and Hailey. I know what it is to be the one being singled out for abuse. I’m not gay,but had other issues. I try to be kind to ALL people. I had a friend who came out to my siblings and and their life in school was so,awful they ended up dropped out. Kindess should be the ONLY WAY, but sadly it usually is not. You and Victor have raised a beautiful woman,and I’m so glad she has you two to help her.

  131. I can’t believe she’s here in Kansas!!! I soooooooooooooooo wish I could give her a BIG HUG!!!!! Midwesterners are the best, most accepting people… she’s in good hands. <3 <3 <3

  132. Yea, yea, yea! How wonderful for Hailey to feel like she has found her tribe. It’s so hard. It took my daughter until college to find her tribe, and my son is currently going through the same struggles in high school. It’s so important for our kids to know and feel us affirming them for who they are.

  133. P.S. If she needs ANYTHING while she’s here, I’m literally very close to where she is at camp! 😉

  134. Thank you for this. I needed the reminder today, and here you were. Ripples felt, and will be passed on from Battle Creek, MI. ❤️

  135. I am so happy that Hailey is having a good time at camp! In Kansas! There are wierd, wonderful amazing people in the world who understand each person’s kind of weird. And I’m glad that Hailey is finding the beginnings of her tribe.

    I remember getting to the women’s college I went to and being happy to be surrounded by smart amazing women. I wasn’t bullied in high school, and had friends, but being a girl geek in the 70s was not at all cool. In college, I could be smart, intelligent, and thirsty for knowledge, and I was surrounded by young women just like me.

    I hope Hailey continues to have a wonderful time, and that the awesomess keeps rippling out.

    P.S. (I have been including Dorothy Barker in my meta meditations – it’s a very small wish for well-being, but I sent her loving-kindness and warm light).

  136. I am so glad she has this. I don’t understand what makes middle school girls so vicious. One of my closest friend’s eleven year old was nearly wrecked by events caused by one mean girl spreading a dangerous rumor. My friend’s daughter is also taking online classes at least until they can move out of Florida. I am not a mother. I step-parent sort of. I don’t worry about my step daughter getting bullied as much as I worry about her being the bully. If I can make any difference with her it will be me constantly drilling in kindness.

  137. When you wrote Rock camp I immediately assumed it was Rock Climbing camp. When later you wrote H. sang a well-received song, I wondered how the rock climbers were able to give a standing ovation while climbing the rocks. Oh: Rock Music camp.

  138. Not gonna lie, I cried a little bit reading this. Also, they sound amazing! I’m so glad Hailey is having a great time and being her amazing self!

  139. “Kindness isn’t as loud as anger so it doesn’t get the same press but if you look for it you will find it eventually. And until then you can create it for others.”
    Love this! So powerful.

  140. Hey, wait! Is she in Wichita KS for the Rock Camp ICT for Girls? That’s where I live AND a friend of mine has been volunteering for that camp for the past few years!

  141. Thank you for posting this – we all need to see the good and celebrate it. Yay for awesome kids! i have young girls (3 and 6) and I constantly reinforce (and actively lead by example) being kind to others and saying kind things and send them on missions to “give one person a compliment who you’ve never complimented at school before” and things like that because I told them it could make the other person’s day (and give you warm fuzzies). It is hard sometimes because when people say mean things to my 6 year old, she lashes out at someone else and as much as we talk about it (in play therapy and at home), it is really hard for her to not react in that way. Anyway – way more info than you want or need, but maybe you, or anyone else who peruses your comments, might have a good suggestion. Thanks for being real!

  142. when i drop off my child to a friend or relative’s home, i always say ‘be kind. be helpful’. when i hear back from them that they were kind & helpful (amidst the typical tween yelling etc), my heart swells. i can handle the adhd / asd stuff at home – as long as their behavior is good when i am NOT around, i feel i must be doing something right…
    so, jenny & victor – you have done something(s) very right with Hailey. well done!

  143. This internet aunt is so stoked for your sweet girl! And moreover…you my dear are raising quite the young lady. I wish more of today’s parents were like you.

  144. This post is why I do theater – where we only care “are you going to do the work?”
    Your height, weight, skin or hair color, sexual orientation or quirks are secondary. And I will celebrate them as your Costume Designer. Good for you to help Hailey find her Tribe.

  145. That is amazing! Go Hailey! And go you for letting her go out and experience this despite the fear and anxiety that goes along with letting our kiddos out into the world. I’m so happy she’s found kindness, excitement, happiness and a great way to make wonderful memories.

  146. When you said KANSAS (and the word “rock” was in the sentence), I imagined Rock Creek 4-H Camp, out in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, where I spent a week for several horrific years as a pre-teen and early teenager and I got worried. But I looked it up, and it looks like a fantastic place for Hailey to go about finding herself! AND it’s not in the middle of Kansas; it’s right outside Kansas City, Missouri, actually a part of the metro area, and VERY NEAR ME if she needs to talk to an internet aunt! 🙂

  147. So happy to hear this is going well for her. Always good to find your people, no matter what the age!

  148. Jenny, Another mom of a quirky/gifted kid. My kids both got wrecked early in elementary school. My daughter (very introverted) went to a workshop about problems around girls friendship and didn’t have anything to say because she didn’t have any friends. My son who is super social, only had frienmeies and was in tears over it. I was lucky enough to find them a tiny school that catered to kids like them and they are now thriving. Hilariously, My husband recently got a stern talking to because our daughter was accelerating at that school and we were depriving her of her chance to be with her age peers! I wanted to howl, because too many of the stories here about middle school were exactly the experience we were “depriving” her of. When she had outgrown her school, she picked the new one because the kids were “quirky” and she knew she’d feel at home.

  149. Ugh. Have to restart my post after typing for 5 minutes.

    So my two kids are quirky/gifted, and had a hard time starting in elementary school. (I actually came to a reading of yours in California and asked you what you’d do for a kid who had the kind of anxiety you did as a child.0 My daughter was kind of baffled by friendship and the entire social world. My super social son, only had frenemies at a school that loudly proclaimed that they wouldn’t leave anyone out.

    We found them a small school with other quirky kids and they are now both thriving. My daughter went through an accelerated (early high school) program and one of my husband’s colleagues gave him an earnest dressing down for depriving her of the company of her age peers. In other words we were wrecking her life by NOT putting her in middle school! When she picked her new school this year, she knew which one was the right one because it had the most quirky kids.

    I’m so glad Hailey is finding her quirky peers where she can be her most Hailey-self. I’m glad she’ll get the experience of doing school as fast and deep and her as she wants. Tell her that those of us out here in the internet are grateful for what she’s allowed you to share. It’s helping tons of current and former middle school kids, weird kids, gay kids, gifted kids, drama nerds, intense kids.

    [And I’m gonna reup my recommendation of Zarah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor for sumer reading. It’s a great story anyone who is or did survive being that weird kid. And it’s not about a kid who starts out perfect, but one who grows into herself]

  150. I thought this was going to be like rock CLIMBING although I’m not sure where in Kansas you could do that. Then when I clicked on the video, I thought “Why are they singing at rock camp? Oh… rock … music”. Doh. Anyway so happy for you and Hailey.

  151. thank you. I never thought about the effect my helping X would ripple out to her family & friends. I’ve just gone thru supporting a friend thru a major issue, and I know I helped her, but I didn’t think about the ramifications. Makes me feel more “useful” in the world. Thank you.

  152. I’m SO happy that Hailey is having fun and feeling supported at Rock Camp! My 12-year-old daughter is at D&D Camp this week and having a blast hanging out with her fellow nerdlings. We all need our tribes!

  153. This post made me tear up a bit because I can relate so hard! My daughter is switching schools next year, going from a small town school with 50 kids in her grade to an urban school with 500 in the hopes that she can find her tribe. She’s into theater, and jazz band, and Asian pop culture. Also her latest hobby is crocheting snakes. Giant 6-foot long stuffed snakes.

  154. If only my parents had the courage to take me out of school…things would have been oh so different.
    Junior High is a vicious place.

  155. First of all, they sounded great! 🙂 Secondly, I’m so sorry for Hailey that she’s had to deal with bullying. Kids can be assholes. Kids can be amazing. Hey look at that, I quoted your title! 🙂 It’s true tho. As a kid with disabilities, I will never forget the kids that picked on me, called me names, said mean things. I’m 43 and I still clearly remember the pain of that. It’s part of the reason I developed the anxiety and depression that’s never really gone away. But I also remember the classmates who defended me, who were kind, who metaphorically and sometimes literally held my hand through it all. And I love that through the magic of social media, I’m still friends with some of those kind, wonderful people. Had I had the chance to do it over tho, would I choose home schooling? I don’t know. Yeah. Probably. Hard to say. But I am sorry that option wasn’t open to me. I am glad it’s open to her and I’m happy she is looking forward to it. 🙂 <3

  156. Oh middle school. It was in my last year of middle school that my best friend of 8 years decidedly turned on me and decided I wasn’t cool enough for her or our group of friends anymore. She was downright nasty to me and drove me out of our group of friends and no one stuck up for me because everyone else was too afraid that they would be next. It was rough in the moment, but it forced me to open up and meet new people that I otherwise would not have gotten to know to the level that I did. They were amazing and made me feel welcome from the get go. My family moved 1,100 miles away the next year and having to open up and meet new people my last year of middle school prepared me for moving to a new place and starting over again. At the time, going through it all sucked, but I grew so much that year and found out what true friendship was. As hard as it was, I wouldn’t change a thing looking back. I learned to keep my head high, push the negative out of my life and keep moving forward, one day at a time. I learned that my friendship was worthwhile and that I was worthwhile and that spending time on negative people and drama was not. I am so glad that Hailey has pushed through this difficult year and has come out the other side shining as is evident in that video. I think back on those hard times and how I struggled, and now as a mother, I have come to realize how it was probably even harder on my mom to watch me go through it all and be so helpless to help in many aspects. Hang in there Jenny, you are doing right by your daughter for sure. She is lucky to have you.

  157. OMG I live in Kansas City and my daughter went to school in Olathe, where she was in her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. I’m SO glad Hailey had a good experience here!

  158. Hailey will be fine, wherever she goes, partly because she’s Hailey, and partly because she has you and Victor to cheer her on. Brava, Brava,

  159. My daughter went to that camp for years…an amazing program!!!! I am so happy for Hailey!!!!

  160. SO happy for Hailey and for you. I’ve been there, and completely recognize that feeling you’re having. You start to have hope, not just that she will be okay but that she will thrive. We had a similar experience with our middle schooler and it was beautiful and unbelievable to watch. We still wake up the morning amazed and thankful for who she has the freedom to be, now that she found her people.

  161. I was trying to understand why Hailey was singing at Geology camp, and then it all clicked. How wonderful for her!

  162. Tom and I wore Free Mom/Dad Hugs tshirts to Pridefest. How damaged and alone must your kid be to sink into the arms of a stranger, sobbing? I felt so much love for each of these precious people.

  163. I have a son who will be in his 2nd year of high school this year and I work in a middle school myself.

    Yes..teenagers can be ASSHOLES. Giant ones. It’s the shittiest part about having a special needs assholey (and at the same time how amazingly awesome) teens can be.


  164. That was genuinely creepy, I had no idea they would be singing that particular Styxx song, exactly as it was playing on the radio in the background of my house! Totslly caught me off guard. I think it’s a good omen 😉

  165. Cool, Rock camp!! Oh….wait. THAT kind of Rock camp. Thought Hailey might want to be a Geologist or something! Cool. Cool cool cool. Rock on, H!

  166. I wish all schools could be K-8, where the 7th and 8th graders are expected to be (and so are) mentors. (Also: there are so many ways we can teach our kids kindness! Modeling it for them, pointing it out when we see it, praising them for it, asking them to imagine it when it’s not there, showing them how kindness is strength, not weakness. It’s the most important thing we can do.

  167. LOL, I thought it was rocks, as in geology until I read about the singing, hahahahaha.

  168. When you realize that you DO have a tribe who will have your back, love and support you, it’s a relief you can’t even articulate. It sounds like Hailey has begun to find hers, and that tribe will obviously mutate along the way, but she ke9ap (sorry, Geordie decided this needed kitty input) knows now that she does have a tribe, and it’s just a matter of refining it. Yay, Hailey!

  169. I’m sure the other kids were telling their parents how happy they were to meet a cool kid named Hailey. It’s great they all found each other. Internet Auntie is so proud of Hailey for coming through the last year a stronger person and embracing her talent to share with those of us who love music but can’t sing. And you and Victor have done an amazing job raising her.

  170. Awesome!
    Please read about Mallory’s Army, founded in memory of Mallory, a 12 year old from New Jersey that took her life two years ago. Mallory’s mom has helped the NJ State Senate pass laws regarding accountability for bullying. This needs to happen across the country.

  171. I am a camp person. I went to summer camp and found my place, a place I still go to, that is my second home. I encourage all parents to send their kids to camp. It may not always work out, it may not be life changing for them as it can be for others but it can be a good place to practise being independent and self reliant. I’m glad Hailey has found her people.

  172. Finding your people is the best thing ever. I hope she will find them over and over as she explores the world!

  173. Thanks for posting this today. I am right now in the process of directing a show at a camp run for 13- to 18-year old actors. It’s three serious weeks of training, culminating in a fully produced Shakespeare show. It’s so intense, the show is amazing, and it’s awe-inspiring what incredible skills the students come in and leave with, but I’m proudest of the atmosphere we create—somewhere young people can be themselves, in all their joy and grief and weirdness and super-nerdliness. Thanks for reminding me why it’s so important—sometimes it’s hard to remember that when we’re in the weeds.

  174. I am so happy that Hailey found this tribe as she will continue to find other groups who genuinely value her. She, like all of us, will also continue to be on the outside with certain people. This is life, but the lesson is to accept it, move beyond them, and share a smile with all.

  175. Yay! I’m happy she’s having fun and found her people. It’s hard for us momma’s to be away from our babies (no matter their age lol) Kids can be mean. My son had problems in elementary school with bullying and not many friends. It hurt my heart. Well surprisingly and happily things got better for him in middle school! Over the years we tried different sports and clubs for him but none really worked out. Well last year in 7th grade he joined Band and he loves it! And he found his people! At his birthday party last year, he had 1 friend come (a boy who lived across the street). Last weekend, at his 13th birthday party, he had a bunch of friends come and 5 boys spent the night at our house! (they’re all in Band together lol) They all got along so well the whole time and had a blast just being themselves. It made my heart so happy to see him happy and surrounded by good kids.

    Thank you for sharing with us and I hope things continue to go well!

  176. So, SO glad she’s having fun with a group of lovely, supportive people! I love seeing so many young people having fun while so obviously being themselves 🙂 I ended up home-educating my boys and even then they still experienced hurtful comments and behaviour. But they had a blast at their drama class over the years and made a couple of lifelong friends, as wonderfully geeky as they are.
    I’m also glad you’re able to breathe easier knowing she’s doing well.

  177. Woot! You were totally right … I’m smiling like she’s my kid. Thanks for sharing it and her with us.

    Go Hailey!

    Former Show-Mo

  178. Having taught every level from 5th grade to 12th grade, 6-8th is the hardest. I didn’t enjoy it much when I myself was in school (ahem) many years ago either. I’m glad the camp was all you folks wanted it to be and with the focus it had, it had to be made up of many people like your daughter…her tribe. I’m glad she has had the opportunity and fun of being there. You all were brave (Hailey, you, and your husband) in letting her go. These are the memories to make and keep; that build the resilience to weather the problems of life. Love you all.

  179. Middle school can fuck right off. My queer daughter barely got through that hot mess of an experience. We actually pulled her to half-days for the last semester. But she’s in therapy, is resilient and looking forward to H.S. in the fall. This mama-bear is anxiously optimistic (is that a thing?) but not holding her breath. Thank you Hailey, for letting your mom share bits of your story. It makes a big difference to those of us also out here in the trenches. <3

  180. Kansas is an amazing and beautiful place and I’m glad Hailey is getting to experience some of it. If you have the time, you should drive up Kansas highway 177 (which will then hit I70) to get her. You would get to see the Flint Hills – one of the most beautiful places on earth, and where my heart lives even if I’m not physically there (but soon!!!!). I will add that my kid is straight and lived through hell on earth in middle school — the parochial school where the awful kids were as far from kind as you can get. We regret ever letting her decide to go there and she left for the public HS. Hailey wants to be with other people and that’s what’s important. I pity the home-schooled kids who only ever get to hang out with other like-minded (and by that I mean religious) kids. Your kid is going to do great with all of the support and love you (and the world) have for her. I think the most important thing of all is that she know that NO MATTER WHAT that love and support are always there <3 Thanks for sharing her with us.

  181. An awesome post. You are a great mom.
    I wish I would have pulled my daughter out of school at about that age. For her, the kids were more accepting than the teachers. We were so happy to see her senior year come to an end. Stay brave and stay strong.

  182. I am SO HAPPY for Hailey! It took me till I was 15 to find my people, and– no surprise– they’re theatre people, because there people know that if you’re not weird, you’re not normal. It made all the difference in my life. Brava, Hailey!! Break legs!!

  183. I found middle school kids to be much more awful (awfuller?) than high school kids. I thinks it’s because by high school more kids know who they are than in middle school, and they don’t have as much of a need to fight against the other as much. Once you are more sure who you are, the less threatening the other becomes (at least as long as who you are isn’t a person who hates everyone else).

  184. So true. I wish all kids AND adults would realize that kindness truly goes a long way. It might make or break someone, just like your daughter. I’m glad she had a positive experience.

  185. Those fantastic kids all look like exactly her tribe. So happy she’s having a great and fulfilling time there. Fun song!

  186. Tears!! For you and for Hailey…so happy she is starting to learn that you can find your people in this world. And they will love you for you and show you again and again that most people aren’t assholes…the assholes just end up being the loudest sometimes. If you are lucky, you find a way to stop hearing them.

  187. Hi Jenny,

    This is a bit of a weird one, I don’t email people I haven’t met much.

    I wanted to say thank you, for the effort you put into caring for your daughter, for the effort you put into taking care of yourself, and, selfishly, for the effort you put into creating and supporting your community.

    Pride has always been a weird time for me, my girlfriend loves it, and I don’t have the balls to tell her that I don’t feel included by it, in fact it makes me feel really isolated. I’m Christian, and bisexual, and at pride I tend to feel miserable, like I’m not gay enough, and that for not rejecting the faith that gives me a lot of strength, I’m not good enough to be part of this community. I take joy in her joy, and smile because all my favourite dance songs are playing anyway.

    I’m currently travelling alone, and walked past a gay bar, I was missing my lady, and wanted community, but still didn’t go in. I’ll see her in a week anyway. Then I went to a restaurant, and had spectacular dinner, and caught up on your blog, and reflected on how a part of a community I felt with you, how much I hope I can visit your bookshop one day (even though I live on the other side of the world, so it would be a bit of a challenge).

    You do a wonderful thing for people, making a community the way you’ve done, and sustaining it with your amazing self. It’s an act of remarkable generosity. I’m so grateful. I hope that Hailey does brilliantly being home schooled, and I know she’ll find her tribe regardless of where she is. And I hope that pride for her will always mean strength and support. She’s doing as well as she can, I’m sure, and she will do great, and so will you.

    Apologies for the weird, jumpy around email, and my thanks again.

    All my love, L ________________________________

    (I love this. Thank you! ~ Jenny)

  188. Jenny, the way you described middle schoolers is exactly what I try to explain to them each and every year of the 22 I have taught. May I have your and Hailey’s permission to use this post in a lesson when I go back to school in August?

    My best friend and I run an after-school musical theatre club called Showstoppers that everyone in the school is able to join, regardless of elective or grade level, and everyone gets a part, as long as they ‘audition.’ In this way, we try and help those kids who need to find their accepting tribe within the school find their people.

    Thank you very much for this post. You speak for all of my Showstoppers and everyone of the “Haileys” I meet each year in my classroom, and for middle school me, who is trying to change what happens, one kid at a time.

    (Of course! ~ Jenny)

  189. I love her wide-legged, confident stance. I hope she stays loud and proud forever.

  190. I’m so sorry that your daughter has had a difficult time at school….. these years can be traumatizing so good for all of you for making the decision to do her schooling online! There’s tons of activities that she can do outside of school that will let her socialize in a safer environment… If you are looking for literature, I highly recommend the following for high school students off the top of my head:
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Catcher in the Rye
    The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz – Mordecai Richler
    All the best!

  191. I’m so sorry that your daughter has had a difficult time at school….. these years can be traumatizing so good for all of you for making the decision to do her schooling online! There’s tons of activities that she can do outside of school that will let her socialize in a safer environment… If you are looking for literature, I highly recommend the following for high school students off the top of my head:
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Catcher in the Rye
    The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz – Mordecai Richler
    All the best!

  192. I feel kids are at their “cruelest” from 4-7 grades w all the hormones, immaturity & lack of empathy. Im glad Hailey has found a place that sustains her faith in humanity. I really dont get it. I always said to my kids & believed that the world would be incredibly boring if everyone was the same, yet everything trends towards conformity. Prayers & all good things for her, Dottie & your family.

  193. Wow. Remember last year when it was such a crazy huge step to think Hailey would be doing something radical by taking all online classes? And now that’s… pretty much out of her hands anyway. 😅 Hopefully that’s the silver lining: since so many places have to do classes online now, the experience should be overall better since it’s being heavily focused on. Hope all is going well in that regard at least ✌🤗

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: