I remember elementary school. I even remember kindergarten to some extent. I remember playing with all of the kids, making new friends and the exciting feeling of being on my own, if even for just a morning every day. I remember forging a new with friendship a girl, someone with whom I would be best friends with for the next 8 years.
I also remember being in grade 4 or 5, having our petty, typical girly spats, being friends with someone one day, and fighting with them the next. I get that kids (especially girls) are like that, and that it's the norm. I also know that kids are cruel, remembering that I was cruel to a kid or two along the way and remembering kids that were bullies to everyone on the playground. I get that all of that is a part of growing up, learning how to treat people, learning how to develop relationships and learning lessons from the way you yourself are treated.
But. My daughter is 4. She is a very personable little girl, not a shy bone in her body. We are new to this city, and when I took them to the park, I figured it might be a good chance to meet some other little girls in our area. When we first got there, there was a girl, probably a year or two older than mine, whom Jayda invited to play. (It's actually pretty cute, she'll walk up to any little strange girl and say, "Hi, my name is Jayda, do you want to play?") They played really well, and then the little girl had to go home.
It was then that another couple of little girls arrived, and Jayda approached them to play. The first little girl (we'll call her Ring Leader) said, "No, I don't know you and haven't seen you before" and then walked away, ignoring Jayda when she introduced herself again. I resisted the urge to do anything about the situation, especially when Jayda's face turned sad and she walked over the bench to sulk for a few minutes. And this wasn't a pouty sulk, this was a hurt sulk.
I get that kids can be mean and discluding, but the kicker here is that RL's Mom was standing right there. Maybe I'm way out of line, or what they call a "helicopter parent" or whatever, but if it were my kid doing that to someone, I would be stepping in and correcting the behaviour. I get that I'm not going to be choosing my kids' friends as they get older, but is there anything wrong with guiding them to try and make the right choices in the way they treat others?
I left there feeling hurt for my daughter and feeling like the other parent dropped the ball on this one. As I was discussing this with my husband after we got home, I lamented that if I ever caught one of my kids treating someone else that way, they would be corrected even as they were doing it.
Or, something like that. But with harsher words.
In the end, I explained to her that even thought that girl left her out, the important thing was that she was friendly with the girls and invited them to play. The important thing is how you treat others, and if they don't treat you nicely back, you go and find someone else who will, ignoring the meanness.
Easier said than done.
This is going to be a long 15 years, probably more so for me than for her.
Now excuse me while I go trim my Mama Bear claws....