Thursday, March 09, 2006

Girls Just Want To Be Mean

Trouble is brewing on our home front. Actually it's next door too.

When my daughter gets home, she has a routine. She comes in, has a snack, does her homework and then she is allowed to play. 9.5 times out of 10 she chooses to go outside to play with the next door neighbor, a girl the same age as my daughter. As an added bonus, there is another girl who plays at the neighbor’s house, so the three of them are often seen running here and there, shooting baskets, jumping rope or just sitting outside shooting the breeze.

On one of these talks, on Tuesday, my daughter said that she wants to be an illustrator when she grows up. (They had just come back from a fieldtrip to visit an illustrator, and my daughter thought it was so cool. She often wants to be different things. She’s gone from wanting to be a teacher, to a hair stylist, to a chef, to a stay at home mom and now an illustrator. Chances are good that next week, it will be something entirely different.) She also said that she doesn't like school (but she excels at it) and she doesn't care for her teacher (reason for not liking school- her teacher is much more rough around the edges than all of her previous first year teachers – the ones who really like teaching because it is still new to them). She didn’t make any of these remarks derogatively or disrespectfully; she was just stating her opinion.

Yesterday, the girl next door sent this note to my daughter through the girl that also plays with them.

I totally respect your opinion on a future career. However, I have the experience of not getting along with people who hate school. I feel that you shouldn’t let one teacher ruin your year. I know that the two of us have nothing in common. I am an outgoing person – it’s hard for me to hang out with a very, very shy person.

My daughter is so confused. How can this friend go from hot to cold over an opinion that doesn't apply to the play time?

As a mom, I want to slap the girl for being so bratty, judgmental, and self-centered. I really want to lay on the sarcasm that this was never a problem when they are playing tag, throwing a ball or reading. My daughter, who is more reserved but definitely fun-loving and very easy going - who would give away her most cherished possessions to have a friend, is being rejected not for who she is, but for having an opinion that probably change by next year. Yeah, momma bear wants to roar. But for once, I am holding my tongue.

Because I can’t fix this one. Sometimes, (and here is the suckiest part of being a parent) it is better to let your children figure some things out on their own – trial by fire, if you will. I guess you can think of it in Calvin and Hobbes terms: “Building Character”.

I can guide and encourage, but ultimately it is her battle to fight.

I just told my daughter that her friend is missing out on a great relationship. I suggested that she pray for her friend, that she pray for God to give her a bosom friends who will stand through thick and thin and be great encouragers of her faith, and that she treat her friend with respect and still speak with her in the hall or in the yard. I told her that she is perfect as she has been made, she doesn't have to be just like everyone else, and it is in our diversity that we truly understand other people and the beauty of others.

All that is good and well and right, but I am at a block for how to help her today. Now. This very moment. She is feeling very rejected and lonely because both of her playing pals have withdrawn from her because, you know, when one girl does something, the others follow suit. It’s kind of like when girls go to the bathroom. They all have to go at the same time.

I read the book "Odd Girl Out" hoping it would prepare me for when this day would come. A very good book from another odd girl out who was trying to figure out why girls react to disagreements the way they do. (Boys usually will have a scuffle and then go back to being the best of pals, whereas girls disagree, hold the grudge and then convince all their friends to choose a side and to ignore the offending girl. To be quite honest, it doesn't really help with how to build up my girl right now, a girl who would rather die than have an arguement with someone or to have someone not like her.)

If you have any words of wisdom to pass on, please leave a comment. I really need some right now. This very moment. Today.


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