So my little baby has now been in school for 4 weeks & she seems to be settling in fairly well, apart from some night wakings & subsequent appearings in our bed in the early hours. The thing that breaks my heart into itty bitty pieces is that she has been saying that some girls in the playground have been telling her she can’t play with them. WAH!
The look on her face when she tells me is a mixture of confusion and sadness. I am under no illusions that she herself is a little angel all the time, and I know she can cause arguments with her friends sometimes as children all do, but the thought of her in the big playground being rejected makes me want to swoop down and rescue her. Not that I will because I realise it’s a part of growing up, but isn’t it just the worst part? I’m sure that that moment was just one in her day, maybe the friend changed her mind straight after and they went on to play nicely but it stuck with her enough for her to come home and seek reassurance from me.
I’m so scared for her as she grows up as I believe it is so tough to be a girl. Things seemed a lot more straightforward being a male teenager when I was younger, (from my limited point of view anyway). You have a problem with someone, you tell them, maybe you have a scuffle in the playground and then it’s over. It’s not like that with girls, well, not in my experience anyway. You could be best of friends one day, and then bam, seemingly out of nowhere it would be over and you could be persona non grata in your social circle.
Things can drag on for months, years even. There might be a gathering of ‘sides’ , it can be vicious, usually sly. Looks and smirks across the classroom. nudges, whispering behind hands, conversation that stops dead when you enter the room, hysterical laughter that is so obviously at your expense.
I just want to protect her from all this. But I know that I can’t.
I can’t imagine it nowadays, when all of this can follow you home. When I was young, you could leave school and, if not forget about it all, at least have some time away from dealing with it. The idea that people can use the many many platforms of social media to torment you at all hours of the day and night makes me shudder. I know I sound dramatic, my little girl is only weeks into reception, and I know that the other little girls at school really aren’t unkind, all of them battling with huge emotions about missing their families and struggling with all the new rules, and I’m sure she has said things that have upset others in her time, but it makes me think about the future for her and it worries me because girls can be mean! Let’s face it, they made a whole film about it!
Which leads me neatly on to the t-shirt in the photo below. We saw it in a shop today and I probably would only have photographed it as it linked in so well with this post, but big girl spotted it and begged me to buy it. I explained why I wasn’t keen and read her the words on it and she said, ‘Oh it’s ok Mummy, they are talking to the witch, the witch wants to sit with them but because she isn’t kind they don’t want her to.’ I almost melted!! Oh, and of course I bought the t-shirt! (I’m pretty sure the fact that her main woman Aurora features on it meant that she would have pulled out all the st
rops 😉 to get it home! Unless she pulls out some serious puppy eyes, I’ll only be wearing it around the house though, as I really don’t like the sentiment.) Reading back, it sounds like I had a terrible time as a teenager but actually, I had loads of wonderful girl friends and still do, I just found it a lot easier to understand boys and how they worked. I’m pretty sure there are people who remember me as a mean girl, (and I genuinely am sorry to anyone I upset in my maelstrom of hormones and emotion), because we all have times when we haven’t been as nice as we could have been, but hopefully now I’m making amends!
That is a lot of the reason why I blog. I think there can be an element of mean girl-ness, (new term alert!), that never leaves some women. The whole competitive motherhood thing for a start. As you get older, you realise that usually this sort of barbed comment is a front for insecurity of some sort, the whole ‘really, your child is not walking yet?’ thing, is actually a manifestation of something they feel worried about, but if you are not self confident and can’t see that objectively, that can really affect you.
I want to always try to be authentic. online and in real life, I don’t want to be fake and big myself and my children up to be amazing caricatures of brilliance, (although I will use filters in photos for evermore!!!), of course I want to celebrate their achievements and document the highs but I also include the low points, and of course the tantrums!
There are a few ways I try to be the antithesis to a mean girl, when we go out to playgroups or to school events, if I see someone looking hovering on the edges, looking unsure, I’ll approach them, a friendly face and a smile can make all the difference to your nerves in a new situation. I try my hardest not to be unkind about other people. And I’ll always offer help to strangers if they look like they may need it.
Earlier I saw someone trying to get out of their car with crutches and asked if they needed help. Afterwards, big girl was asking me why I’d offered help and I tried to explain karma to her. I really do believe that you get back what you put out into the world. I try to do a random act of kindness wherever I can, and to do them when I’m with the children so they can learn by example.
So with regards to the school playground issues, I’ve just told her that if she is told that she can’t play with someone, and it makes her sad, to just say, ‘that’s a shame, I am a lot of fun to play with, maybe another time’, and then to go and look for someone on their own or looking a little unhappy and ask them to play.
I really hope that is the right advice to give her. I just don’t ever want her to doubt herself. She approaches groups of children everywhere we go to ask them if they would like to play with her, and I hope beyond anything that she doesn’t have that crushed out of her.
Anyone reading that has experienced this with their children, how did you tackle it? How do you teach your children to be strong and get through times when their confidence in themselves is shaken?
(I realise I’ve aimed this post more at girls as that is what I know, and what I’m dealing with at the moment but I am sure that boys can have similar issues so please don’t feel you can’t comment if you have experience and advice and you have a son, in fact, the more views across the spectrum the better please. 🙂 )