‘You can’t sit with us!’ (A post trying very hard not to compare 5 year olds to Regina George!)

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 ย 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 strops ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.)ย IMG_3664ย 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. ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

dragon

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

15 Comments

  1. Obviously I’m not a parent, but bullying and social exclusion are something very close to my heart, so I’ve got my two cents ready to go.

    I think you gave good advice, and prompting her to think about other children who might be alone was really great. From what I remember of being that age, small children bounce around in friendships. Things can change very quickly and for no reason, but usually without much lasting impact. That said, I think it’s good you’re aware of the situation. It means you’ll quickly notice if it develops into something worse. Parents can’t always fix everything, but they can always be in your corner at the end of the day. My parents were not very aware of my situation, and for me that made everything a lot harder to deal with.

    Also, I would just like to say that boys can be mean too. I know you don’t mean to suggest they aren’t; you’re experiences are with mean girls, and you are talking about your experiences. Almost all of the bullying I faced was at the hands of boys, so perhaps I can add a little something of my experiences. They could be very cruel and very sly. They figured out the little things that really hurt. They liked to get a reaction, but they kept going even if they didn’t. They ganged up. They were good at keeping it from the teachers, and when it was noticed they always seemed to evade trouble because “boys will be boys” and “oh, if he’s being mean to you it just means he likes you” (for the record, these boys definitely didn’t like me and even if they did it was still cruel and unacceptable behaviour). I think that our social construction of masculinity does lead to boys often having a somewhat different way of expressing meanness, but in my experience it is the same meanness and it cuts just as deep.

    • Wow thank you so much for your reply. I really value all views, parent or otherwise come to think of it. I’m sorry you had a rough time. Now you mention it, I do remember similar instances with boys myself. I suppose I was thinking of how they sorted things out with each other, but actually there was probably far more going on under the surface. I was also bullied until I went to an alternative school. Which was so jam packed with so many different types of children that I no longer stood out for being quirky and the bullying changed. (Not finished!) I’m proud to be a bit different now, but why is it something that is so bad at school? Do people feel threatened by things that aren’t the norm? I’m always going to teach my kids to try & be authentic to themselves, I am torn between thinking that when I pick them up with pink hair & wearing a unicorn jumper, I am teaching them that it’s cool to be yourself but equally a little worried that it will cause them to be singled out. Life is tough isn’t it? For what it’s worth, I think you are very cool & all the losers that bullied you at school are probably still unhappy inside and you should try & feel sorry for them.xxx

      • Thank you so much for that kind reply. I’m glad you found a different school that was a bit better, if not perfect. My bullying never exactly stopped, but it lessened as I got older. In my last couple of years of school I was mostly only excluded (not pointedly excluded, just forgotten) which by that time I kind of preferred. I wish there were more school options where I grew up, so that I might have changed.

        Yep, school is weird. I can’t pretend I’ve ever worked out the rules. But I think pink hair and unicorn jumpers are just what it (and your kids) need! Definitely keep being yourself for your kids.

  2. I was appalled when my 6yo told me that a girl at recess told her friend that she had ugly clothes! I explained to her that she needs to stand up for her friends and to never let anyone bully them. its amazing how early the mean girl thing starts! I think you gave your daughter great advice! good job ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh that’s horrible April! I think there is so much fear in being the one who stands up for the one who is being picked on but actually, there is safety in numbers. If one person gets singled out, it’s much easier then if they have a few noisy friends to stick up for them and tell the teachers on their behalf. I think you gave your daughter great advice and if all mums tried to teach kids like this, the playground might be a much happier place. Thank you for taking the time to comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Some of my earliest memories are of the mean girls at primary school being horrible to me and my friends. Fortunately, we identified the “meanies” quickly and steered clear of them, forming a nice group who supported each other.

    I think you gave your daughter very good advice. The earlier kids have ways of responding/coping with the meanness of others the better. If they can shrug it off and find nicer friends, I think that’s the way to go. They also need to stick up for themselves and their friends, and find friends who will do the same for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I know what you mean about that T-shirt making you feel uncomfortable. I feel the same way about it, as I do with quite a lot of slogan T-shirts aimed at girls. Clearly your daughter is unfazed by it, though, so hopefully we are just looking at it through adult eyes and seeing something they don’t see.

    • I thought her response to it was pretty sweet and that was the only reason I bought it, so she obviously saw something completely different and I suppose it is ok if you look at it like that. I don’t like an awful lot of girl’s clothes. My daughter has always been big for her age and very quickly she went from the very sweet cute girl’s clothes into the older girl’s sections and we had to stop shopping on the high street as it was just so limited when we rejected all the stuff I deemed inappropriate. They are not children for very long and I think we need to help them stay little as much as possible. Thank you for you comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m trying very hard to write a sensible comment despite my head now being full of quotes from Mean Girls! Completely agree that competitiveness, bullying, pushing our own choices on people, etc often come from our own insecurities (though currently getting a tiny bit of grief for saying something like this briefly in a post recently!).

    I think the advice you gave your daughter is brilliant, and there is not much else you can do. These things do happen, I think to most kids, and probably trying to teach them that it really is not a reflection on them and to brush it off is the best you can do.

    My kids are still a couple of years off school age, but my eldest toddler is also one who goes up to other kids all the time and tries to play with them, talk to them and hug them. She quite often gets rejected, ignored or pushed, and it is really heartbreaking. But I have to remember that is more my response than hers currently – it doesn’t seem to phase her at all, and I think because of how toddlers view others and how they play, it probably genuinely doesn’t much matter to her. But I know that will change, and hate to think of anyone rejecting her after it has, though I’m sure it will happen. #abitofeverything

  6. That’s a great answer. It’s a tough one. I’m a teacher and have kids telling me similar stories all the time. Sometimes, especially with the younger ones it’s easy to fix but often it isn’t. Boys are easier, in my experience too. Much more forgiving and less catty. I will be teaching kids your answer from now on ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks so much for linking up with #fartglitter x

  7. I remember if falling out with my girl friends it would last a long time, you were frozen out big time so yep, girls are much harder but then all of my actual bullying not just fall outs and being daft over the years and dramatic, proper bullying was all at the hands of boys. I’m just wary of all teens full stop now and i am terrified of the future, i hope my two don’t have to go through anything like I did even if they don’t, Im sure inner circle nastiness is bound to happen. This parenting thing is so hard! #alittlebitofeverything

  8. It’s a difficult one with the girlies isn’t it. I have to say that apart from an isolated incident, we have been lucky so far but it does go on. It also doesn’t just stay with school age girls unfortunately. When my daughter had her ‘being on her own’ stage, I was actually sad and glad. Sad to think of her alone in the playground but glad that she was moving away from a friendship that wasn’t healthy. I have to say I do think it was the best thing to have happened as she had no choice but to spread her wings. It did mean that she spent a lot of time on her own which is awful to think about but she has a lovely friend group now. I always try to lighten up any of the ‘she said this’ malarkey by just saying ‘oh I expect it was an off day, all will be back to normal tomorrow’. It generally is. I am sure we are not completely out of the woods yet and it was really interesting to read this post. #abitofeverything

  9. Thank you. I think you are pretty awesome too! I guess we were just too much awesome for the other school kids to handle.

  10. Oh I love this post! I can’t believe how young the “shit stirring” starts. Kids can be so cruel and the only thing we can honestly teach are kids is to be strong and confident and hope that they are able to just let it pass. I think that the advice you gave her was spot on! Great job mama! I have two girls and would say the same thing or tell them to always stick together on the playground. I never hit serious problems with “mean girls” until high school but today is so different from back then. I am popping over from #abitofeverything

  11. Im afraid I cant offer a lot in the way of advice here as I have two boys. They never really had the same issues with meanness as was evident with their girl friends. I think the advice you have given her is spot on. Ot to take it to heart and just move on is the best way to deal with mean girls. Thank you for linking up, Tracey #abitofeverything

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