My daughter came home with her usual bouncy, free spirited, attitude. She usually rolls through the door like an electrically charged ball, so when she flopped through the door with the daily spastic energy I’m used to, I didn’t think to ask if anything could be wrong.
It’s been a few weeks of this now, assuming things are going well, listening to her stories of school, until last week the little girl that usually sits by her on the bus chose to sit six seats back from my daughter. I asked her about it later that day, “Why didn’t Liv sit with you?” “Oh, she and Rose don’t like me anymore. I don’t know why. They just don’t talk to me now.”
Apparently this had been going on for a little while.
I asked her more about what was going on with the girls at school. “They have a club that I’m not allowed to be in anymore. So I started my own club and I’m the only one in it. Well, me and my fairies.”
I think my heart busted in twelve pieces.
“Who plays with you at recess? Didn’t you usually play with Ave and James?” “No, nobody plays with me at recess now. Nobody. I just play alone.”
She stated this with such a matter-of-fact tone that I didn’t want to make it a big deal but, y’all, remember elementary school? Remember how the person that shows up in first grade could very well be the person you are labelled as for many many many years? The bed-wetter? The girl-who-cried-all-the-time? The boy-who-took-his-pudding-and-threw-it-on-a-teacher? I mean, those labels follow you through high school.
No, seriously. Kids are mean.
Since my daughter is new to this school this year, I wanted to give her the chance to make friends in her grade. “Let’s have a tea party,” I suggested. “Invite three of your friends from school that you want and we’ll have a tea party for them. You can use your nice tea party set from Grandma and Grandpa.”
She loved the idea.
The next night she worked on invitations for three of her friends. She sat and drew while I lay on her bad talking to her about this or that. She spent an hour making the invitations exactly right. I confess, I was impressed a bit myself.
Two of the three girls made it to our house the following day. There was mass consumption of sparking apple cider, homemade oatmeal/cranberry cookies (gluten free, of course) and many hours of pretend cat noises from upstairs.
After their tea party, a little girl asked if she could do her homework. “Of course!” I taught the girls how to have a study group. THey helped each other with their math and discussed each answer, checking their work together. Then it was time to go.
One of the mothers became an instant friend. We chatted, our daughters so alike, and decided to hang out some more. I’ve already met her at the Y for a workout and planned another playdate for our girls soon.
The best possible thing I can do for my daughter is give her the chance to find her own people. I’ve been lucky over the years to find a tribe here. I have people I love to hang out with, people with children like mine, people who make me laugh and make me feel funny.
She might not know it yet, but she’s going to need people as she goes through her schooling. People, community, friends; they make your life rich and give you the chance to take yourself less seriously. And, honestly, they’re way better than fairies. They’re real.
That was such a good thing you did for your daughter. I remember being that rejected kid one year in elementary, and it was terrible. Helping to create allies is fantastic.
By Schmutzie on 2010 12 02
It’s great you were able to help (love the art work as well)
By DefMex on 2010 12 02
you’re such a good mama.
By laura on 2010 12 02
That is a pretty awesome thing you did, Leslie.
By Lotus Carroll / Sarcastic Mom on 2010 12 02
Well done! Another great Mom to the rescue…...................
By Beth on 2010 12 02
A mama that can’t type, apparently. LOL. LONELINESS. Wow.
But thanks, y’all. My mom did the same for me. Passing on the “friends are rad” gene.
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 12 02
What lovely insight to share! Thank you for sharing. Your daughter is strong and lucky to have you.
By Jen on 2010 12 02
You are so right about needing a community. I’m in my late 30s and I’m still that girl no one wants to play with at recess. I freelance and I wish I had a village (or, heck, one person) to hang with. How great of you to do this for your daughter.
By Lonely Girl on 2010 12 02
This is so familiar - my daughter is in 2nd grade and has had a couple of close friends decide that they don’t want to be her friend anymore… she cries before bed, doesn’t want to go to school, etc. She tells me she likes recess because she can play tag and “all she has to do is run away.” My heart busts into twelve pieces too. I’m not sure what to do. Maybe we should have a party - that sounds like such a great idea. xox
By Lindsey on 2010 12 02
Gah, Lindsey. That nearly made *ME* cry. It’s hard to be a girl. :-(
If you do a party, let me know. I hope it goes well. (And I did see one of her friends from yesterday sit by her today on the bus.)
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 12 02
This is just wonderful to see that she had a good time and things did happen the next day for her, in a positive way.
By Omaflinger on 2010 12 02
That story broke my heart into 12 pieces too. Loved your tea party idea and loved the invitations your daughter made - especially since she drew a cat on them. : ) Resiliency….your daughter has it! A great mom…your daughter has that too!
By Betty in Munich on 2010 12 03
You’re such a good mom, Flinger. I was that kid in school at one point. It is good of you to make sure she has a team.
By Jessica on 2010 12 03
Way to help your daughter out and reign in the overreaction that many of us would have had. You’re a great mama.
By Rachael on 2010 12 03
Oh crap. That story just about broke my heart. So glad you handled it as you did - filing this one away for future reference, hoping I won’t have to do it, but knowing I probably will (kids ARE mean!).
By sweetney on 2010 12 04
BAH! Girls and their clubs. Been through this with all 3 of my girls (my 9-year-old is going through something similar) and, well, let’s just say I’m NOT surprised you handled yourself way better than I would have (myself, not that you need to be handled, in that way, I mean) good on you, momma!!!
By Liz @thisfullhouse on 2010 12 09