When our babies are little, we are all about safety, growth and development, and our SANITY as we manage it all. Those things are still part of it, but new things are the horizon. The internet, social media and pressures of conformity, and how to raise a daughter that is self-assured who has good values are on the brain. I am trying to figure out how to navigate all of this. And one thing I know for sure – who my kids hang out with is going to be a huge part of it.
Not So Good Friends
When our daughter was small I would say things like “We are ALL friends!” It’s amazing how as she got older it turned into, “Just stay away from THAT kid!”
When she hit 4th grade, the kids started to divide into groups, and the dynamics were flying around as kids were falling into a social pecking order and dealing with whatever that might be. Fourth grade was rough. It was our first foray into mean girls. We had a queen bee who ruled a small pack of
hyenas girls exploring their new found power over others. My daughter and the other girls in the class were on the outskirts and (for some reason) wanted IN, which led to a year of nutty I never saw coming and still don’t quite understand.
The Kindergarten Decision – We got it WRONG.
Our child started at four and turned five a few weeks into kindergarten. “She’s ready,” everyone said. I listened to them and sent her on. She’s doing fine BUT when drama came around and the queen bee and her pack were wreaking havoc, my young-compared-to-the-others daughter just couldn’t understand why those girls were mean. She was naive. Her attitude was I’ll try again (harder!) tomorrow.
Sweet attitude, right? What a mess.
Thinking about kindergarten when everyone says your young child is “ready.” Maybe they know their ABCs but will they be ready in a few years to deal with cruelty meted out by classmates who are – in some cases – a year and a half older and more mature than them?! Academically, she’s fine. Even the size – she’s a good foot and a half shorter than most of her friends – is fine.
I know every kid is different. But so far – for us – the hard part of school is not athletics or academics. It’s learning social skills. And we have positioned our daughter among her classmates as the youngest and that is proving to be a disadvantage maturity-wise. Additionally, she’s learning things a year sooner than maybe she should. And we have a lot of years of school ahead of us.
What I Learned
#1 – Hold the
mayo young kids.
#2 – If you ever find your child is in a classroom that’s out of control, don’t coach from the sidelines. Get your butt in there and get involved. If I could go back and do it again, I would have had her pulled and put in another class. We stuck it out thinking: well this is part of growing up, and you can’t pick your boss, and she’s got to learn to deal with people in life this is just part of it. Maybe later in life, but in elementary school what we did was not the right thing to do. Live and learn.
For the record, she fully recovered from all of this in 5th grade and things were just fine.
My Summer Mission: Making Sure the Kids Have Fun With Good Kids
All Charlie’s friends are girls (and we adore them), but I am trying to facilitate friendships for him with boys too. That’s important too.
We also have made some friends at church. I am trying to be more involved there for a number of reasons, but one them is so my kids will find good people to grow up with. I spent a TON of time with youth group kids growing up and it was a blast. A blast that served me well. My parents put us together with a bunch of good kids and we all had a great time (and stayed out of trouble).
As for my daugther, in the fall, she’s heading for middle school and I am planning to spend this summer making sure she solidifies friendships that will (hopefully) be healthy as she becomes more interested in what her friends think. If she’s going to listen to them and not us, let her not be with morons.
On THAT note, my hairdresser has a son who just finished 6th grade. I told her I was worrying a little about what to expect despite a very reassuring tour of the school. She told me about a great book she read called Masterminds and Wingmen.
She said there’s a girl version, too. Queen Bees and Wannabes.
So, I just ordered the Queen Bee book and will probably read the other one in a few years to help prepare me for what Charlie may face. But I thought I would mention them in case any of you might be in the same boat but didn’t know these books existed.
I really wish I had an Obi Wan of Tween Mothering. If that’s you, please chime in. I need you. In the meantime, I hope these books are helpful (to you and to me).
PS – If you have a daughter who is 7 or 8, I also read Six Ways to Keep the Little In Your Girl and there are some good tips in there. I think there is a boy version of that book, but I haven’t read it. And the Care and Keeping of You for Younger Girls is something to check out if you are looking to tell your 8 or 9ish year-old about her body. The first book is all birds no bees.