"Karen said I'm ugly."
That's what Kaylee told me today, on the way home from school. Karen, of course, is not the child's real name. No one names their kids Karen anymore.
"What?" I asked, surprised to learn that these things start so young.
"Karen told me I'm ugly."
How do I react to this? I wondered.
I wanted to kick this Karen kid's ass. How dare she make my little girl sad? How dare she tell my beautiful child that she's anything less than perfection incarnate?
Maybe I should talk to Karen's mom about her child's bratty behavior, I thought.
Should I fight this battle for Kaylee? Should I pump her head full of declarations of her beauty? Should I tell her that Karen is an evil little shit who's just jealous of Kaylee's shining awesomeness? Should I make things worse?
"Did that make you feel sad?" I asked. Because you never know with four-year-olds. Sometimes they speak in code. Sometimes "ugly" means "rad," or whatever the kids say these days.
But Kaylee nodded. Yes, she was sad. Damn that Karen.
"Well, it's really not very nice to tell someone they're ugly, is it?"
"Next time Karen says something like that, you tell her that's a mean thing to say, and you don't play with mean kids."
"Ok," she said.
"She said I was ugly."
"So I said she's ugly."
"Oh. ... But that's not nice, is it?"
"No. Tomorrow I'll tell her I'm sorry."