Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hopefully I only screw them up a little.

My second post for the day.  I was originally just planning on posting this but then I saw every one's comments on yesterday's post and felt I had to give a little update. 

So on with today's post. 

I, like every mother, want the best for my child.  So it's when I see her struggle socially that my heart breaks a little for her.  You see, I would like it if my child was more popular.  Don't get me wrong, I don't need her to be popular or to be in the "in" crowd.  I just wish she had more friends. 

I've been observing her in her class line up and the other day there were these two girls making fun of her.  Oh it was light fun that kids make and my E didn't have a clue.  It went over her head thank goodness.  It didn't occur to her that they'd make fun of her.   But it did make me a little sad and wonder why she hasn't really made any girl friends.  Sometimes it doesn't go over her head as she tells me that one girl made fun of her drawings because E scribbled or told E that she wasn't inviting her to her party because she was different.  What's different mommy? 

Being socially accepted is not the be all and end all of life, I know.  It's just makes life that much more easier and maybe less painful.  I'm speaking from experience here.  I started off with lots of friends in elementary school but gradually I felt a shift.  I felt it then and I can pinpoint the reasons even more so now.   There began to be subtle differences, I was invited to the birthday party of a "popular" girl.  Her parents lived in a big fancy house and her mother wore a dress.  A mom who wore a dress was idolized in my eyes because I loved wearing dresses.  I have no idea what her father did for a living.  I just know they had money. It was after that party that suddenly there were "cool" kids and non cool kids and gradually I was shifted into the non cool crowd.  No longer welcome to sit by the "princess".  There was this one girl in grade 4, pretty petite.  Loved by all.  Everything about her was dainty, even the way she ate.  I idolized her.  I wanted to be her best friend.  My biggest highlight and let down.. was eating lunch with her at her desk.  She said okay but her heart wasn't in it obviously as she talked to other girls more than me.  

I didn't know it at the time but we were considered poor.  We lived in a small double wide trailer, both my parents worked to make ends meet etc.  I'm not putting them down.  I had a great childhood, loving parents.  I never went without.  We lived, however, in small village where a lot of wealthy people live.  It just pisses me off when I look back and see how I was discarded based on the financial status of my parents.  My one sole personal drawback, I was a bit shy.   My mom told me that there was nothing wrong with me, I was just a little shy. Kids like kids who aren't shy.  So why was it then that the girl who lived the street over, used to walk with me to school in grade 6 decided that I wasn't even cool enough to walk to school with.  Oh she didn't say anything to my face, she just started walking earlier so I'd have to run to catch up with her.  It didn't take me long to clue in that she didn't want to walk with me anymore.  Suddenly, I was almost friendless in this big school.  

I did have this one friend Rene.  She didn't have many friends either.  She was new to the area and she was definitely different.  She had bright red, I mean pippi longstocking red hair, that was curly so she had like this big red fro with ringlets sticking out all over it.  The ringlets were big and fat and completely natural and literally you could pull one and it'd boing back into shape.  I always added the boing sound effect in my head.  She was pale with freckles and about the most vibrant, fun loving, happiest, most accepting person I had ever met.  Unfortunately, she moved away again and I have no idea where she is now or even her last name so we lost touch. 

The best thing that ever happened to me was when my folks decided to move.  We moved ten minutes down the road to a new town, which meant a new school.  Suddenly I had friend and lots of them.  I became part of a crowd.  Because this town was a "working" town.  Most people who lived in this were regular joes.  So then I realized there was nothing wrong with me.  It really was them. 

Amazing how childhood can still affect you.  You think you're in your mid thirties and life should be just a breeze by now.   Things still rise up to bite you in the butt.  Especially when you have children.  

 When E first started kindergarten I would say things like don't do this or that because the kids won't like you.  I'm not talking big things but etiquette things like picking noses, sticking hands down your pants, wiping properly so you don't smell etc.   Things that needed to be worked on.  But then she started getting agitated and would freak out about some minor thing saying that people were going to laugh at her.   I was floored at where she was getting this from.  Then I realized that I was putting MY anxieties on her and making her insecure.  Shoot.  So I stopped and became more careful at how I worded things and she doesn't worry about people laughing at her anymore.  Phew.  

So now I try to say more encouraging things to her about making friends, trying to be helpful and kind etc.  I don't worry about her hair or what she wears (within reason) but there is still that part of me that wants to because I would like to pave the way for her... just a little.  Take some of the rocks out of the path.  But that would be wrong.  

Who I am today is because of all that I went through. Maybe I wouldn't have been so empathetic for those kids on the fringe in High School if it hadn't been for my childhood.  Maybe I would have shunned the girl who became my best friend because everyone thought she was a B&#@H. She was just shy.  

Have you seen the movie:  Jane Austen Book Club?  There is this scene where this woman is mad at her husband because he thinks one of the girls she went to school with was nice and spent some time chatting with this blond, attractive woman.  He said to her "High School is over."  Her response... "High school is never over."   How true for some of us.  

So how do we navigate through this social map known as their school days.  How do I protect my child's self esteem while encouraging herself to put herself out there, to be bold and to love her own way.  

I don't know but I'm sure I'm going to screw it up along the line.  Hopefully, just a little. 

Zeemaid
   

4 comments:

  1. I completely feel you on this topic! The only reason I wasn't completely iced out by the 'popular' people was because I was funny. I was so self-depricating, it was funny to them, so they kept me around. But I did have a safety net, I made sure that I made friends with every other underdog/nerd in school so that if one day, these people dropped me, I wouldn't be a loner. Ugh. It makes me so sad to think of it. And yes, high school is never over. ;-)

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  2. Oh my. I have so much to say about this wonderfully poignant, thoughtful blog entry, Z.

    First, I was painfully shy starting in 3rd grade (my family switched gears and moved me away from all my friends to another state). And then it got worse in middle school, when the Mean Girl gene comes out. I was miserable, friendless, and very, very isolated in middle school. I really think the only thing that got me through it was the fact I was deeply loved at home and had a frickin' awesome imagination/great time alone.

    It got better in high school. And as an adult, I'm like you--much more empathetic towards the shy, the lonely, the kind of isolated, the misfits because of what I went through.

    Now, as a teacher, I see a couple of things happening in our new, crazy culture: I see the Mean Girl gene coming out a lot sooner than middle school, like in 7 year olds. And I see a lot more bully behavior in general. If there is one thing I can't tolerate, it's a Mean Girl/bully. It happened to me and so I simply won't have it, and so we do a lot of talking as a group when I see it. And I make sure the bullied know what their resources are and where to go if it gets really bad.

    And I will say I'm deeply worried about my own girl when she reaches school age, and what she'll encounter. I think part of being human is feeling a need to fit in and be accepted.

    So, because I've given it a lot of thought myself, and because of what I've eyewitnessed over the years at work, I really think the most important thing you can do for your daughter is to simply talk. When you've got those lines of communication open and a deep feeling of unconditional love and trust, she'll know to come to you when it really bothers her. For now, it sounds like it's not really bothering her. So I'd let her process it all in her own way, but stay vigilant about it at the same time.

    And while you're doing all that, make sure you get get some voodoo hoodoo so those Mean Girls in your daughter's class have all their hair fall out.

    :-)

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  3. Just one sentence in and my stomach dropped. I guess the feelings of childhood never go away. Especially when you watch them in your child...

    And you won't screw her up. Your heart is way too sensitive to what she's facing. She's lucky to have you.

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  4. Thanks Ladies for your positive comments and advice. I was a little nervous putting this one out there.

    You're right though. We lived through it and she will too. Thank goodness the wisdom comes as you go along. :)

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