Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And so it begins...

The May Queen is enjoying kindergarten. She loves the story time and playing with the puzzles at the green center. She loves having music and art classes, and going to the library. She loves to paint and color and even do her worksheets (thankfully they mostly do them at school and not as homework!!). She points out her friends to me as they are entering and leaving school, and she's thrilled that in a few weeks I will be the "celebrity reader" during their time in the library.

And yet...

I hear the rumblings. I hear how the other girls say things about not being first in line, that "third is stuck in the wedding dress." (I try to reason with her that being in the pretty dress could be a good thing, if she wanted it to be!) She tells me of R. who wanted to play like MQ was chained up at recess. Yesterday she told me that a boy in her class, W., said that boys are (insert thumbs up motion here) and girls are (insert thumbs down motion here). But MQ wanted to prove to W. that she, too, is cool, and so we went outside to practice hula hooping. And I tell you, she's getting pretty good.

These things are minor. These things I expect, and I try to teach her not to let what others say change her opinion of herself.

And yet...

This morning at breakfast she broke my heart into a million pieces. Mornings are hard for both of us, as we are tired and crabby and generally not morning people. As I sat drinking my tea and she finished up her pancakes she said to me "My friends at school make me feel bad." Do you the hear the shattering? Ouch. She talked about how they say to her "Nana nana boo boo" and run away. How they pretend she stinks and won't let her get near them. I nearly started crying. But I held myself together, and asked questions. Who are these kids? Are there other kids you can play with? Do they always do this? How does it make you feel? Do you think maybe this is their way of playing? It isn't very nice to play in a way that hurts someones feelings, is it? Do you ever say those things?

I hope that she is not partaking in this way of playing. But she probably is. Or will soon learn that this is how you play. And it breaks my heart. She doesn't have siblings, so has not been as exposed to the shifting winds of affection as some kids have. She has not been exposed to the teasing, and has always been very sensitive to it. I know she isn't an angel. I've seen her with her cousins, and even seen her intentionally perpetrate some unkind acts.

And yet...

Today she happily hopped out of the car at school, excited about the day ahead, and the bake sale treat she would buy with the 50 cents stored away in the pocket of her bag. Again she pointed out some of her friends to me, hopping out of their own cars. And I know that today I will hear about the fun things she did. I will hear good stories, like how yesterday L shared his crayons. I know that there is good and bad, and that we will have to learn how to sort this out together. Her in the thick of it, and me as we process it at home. But I want to be there at recess, to praise her hula hooping skill, to prove to W. that girls are cool, and that MQ doesn't stink. But I can't be. I have to teach her how to navigate those waters by herself.

I just wish that the waters had a few less rapids.

you can read the continuation of this saga at my post Mama Bear Goes to School.

24 comments:

Sober Briquette said...

Today, we were a little late. At Fiona's school, they have outside prayers/flag raising, then go inside. I was surprised they were still outside because I was expecting to have to walk her in, and not looking forward to it, because she's still crying every day. I practically pushed her up the stairs, "Run! Run!" and then felt terrible. This is hard, isn't it.

She was saying that she didn't like one of the boys, and wanted him to quit talking to her and leave her alone. I attempted to lessen her resolve against him, until she told me that he was talking about seals biting people in half, at which point I concurred.

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, my friend and fellow-mother of a daughter, I hear you. Loudly and clearly.

My Child Number One is a sensitive first-born, and I secretly feared for her when she began school.

My fears were not unfounded, as it turned out, because the little-girl emotional shenanegans begin at an even earlier age now than I remembered from my own youth. My girl was targeted young, and she took it very hard.

Now, very YOUNG little girls are changeable creatures. The things that they squabble about one day can be completely forgotten the next. I tried very hard not to "wade in" unless it was absolutely necessary, and her teachers were reliable about keeping on top of things.

But we DID do a lot of talking about it at home. We talked about "inclusive play", and how important it is to be kind, and stick up for other children if they are being oppressed. We also talked about how it feels to be "bullied", and the reasons why children are sometimes cruel to each other.

I think it's important to explain that putting other people down does NOT make one look or feel better about oneself, even though I think that must be a major reason why children (and a lot of adults, actually) behave this way.

It's all about power-struggles... And it's really important that the bully not be awarded that power.

There is certainly a point at which it is important for a child to ask an adult for help resolving a situation, and a point when parents must intervene on behalf of their children...

But, if your daughter can continue to "turn the other cheek" to the lesser stuff, while keeping the lines of communication open with you and her teachers, she will do just fine.

It's so hard, isn't it?

I know.

Alpha DogMa said...

I was watching the group dynamics this morning at school. The kindergartens are all rather social and tame and chummy, but the grade ones have got the cliques going on. I could readily pick out the sad girl - obviously overweight, a head taller than her peers dressed in awkward clothes and moving from group to group needing someone to validate her. It was heart breaking.

Emily said...

Oh, I wish I could say it gets easier...for MQ and for my three daughters. So far, (oldest in 5th grade) it's not easier, but nastier. In an effort to stop doing back ground checks on classmates, hiring P.I.s to scout the play ground, post social security numbers of particularly awful children in public arenas, etc... I fought the district for 2 years to install a program at school that teaches kids how to deal with/stop bullying, as well as how to avoid sexual assault and stranger abduction. Then I joined the Board of Directors for the non profit that facilitates the program and try to keep myself (and my daughters) as informed as possible.

Emily said...

PS-that's emily from www.collectingraindrops.blogspot.com

Someday, I will learn how to add a pic in my comments. :) 'til then, I am ever lovingly, Dorcas.

Oh, The Joys said...

If we could protect them we would, we would. (Would that be wise though? I don't know.)

Julie Pippert said...

Sigh. I hear you. Mine can dish it out just fine but cannot take it. And both are rough.

I notice it really kicks in by 2nd grade.

We had a learning year socially last year, and I hope it helps. I heard all of these stories last year and so far, not so much (at all, really) this year.

I know it's there.

Hang in there...I know how you feel.

Julie
Using My Words

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh gosh. I have a draft post about this very thing sitting in my blog queue. It starts so very early. How I wish we could protect them from that.

Emily (Wheels) said...

It starts so young! Oh no. May she always be happy to go to school.

slouching mom said...

Oh, this just breaks my heart. I knew there was a reason I didn't end up with girls -- my heart couldn't have stood it.

Ally said...

I hear you loud and clear on this post, too. And boy can I relate. More than anything, I'd like to be a fly on the wall in the classroom/playground/lunchroom to see what goes on during Eleanor's day. She won't tell me much when she gets home.

Tracey said...

Sigh... it goes both ways. They will be bullied and be bullies. Hopefully, neither will stick. It's hard to know how far you need to interfere and "help."

Aliki2006 said...

I am so sensitive about this topic--my heart breaks, too. It really does begin with kindergarten and, yet, why does it have to be this way?

thailandchani said...

I'm kind of sensitive about these issues, too, for a variety of reasons. I wish there was a teacher or someone around who would stop kids from doing those kinds of things.


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

Beck said...

Talk to her teacher about it. That sort of behaviour is NOT okay and there generally ARE programs in the school to deal with it.

PeanutButtersMum said...

Ouch! That "Nana nana boo boo" part breaks my heart! It's stuff like this that makes me want to keep my little PeanutButter home with me forever, no matter how much I know that would be unreasonable...

I hope your little one can manage to avoid as many "rapids" as possible!

trailin' said...

I remember Kindergarten and the little kid mind games. Glad those days are over though. I was tortured in Kindergarten because I didn't do the same stuff as my classmates. Hopefully kids learn to be nicer eventually.

carrie said...

If I had a nickel for every time I said "don't worry about those other boys, just worry about yourself . . ." (including tonight at soccer practice when some jerk was putting grass on my son's head) well, I'd be a rich woman.

It is so hard. Just keep being her cheerleader.

Amy York said...

It's so, so tough. We haven't quite gotten there yet as my 6 year old is still a pretty cool guy. But I know his time is coming ~ we all go through it... I'm not looking forward to it at all.
My heart was breaking for MQ too. Isn't it amazing, though, how very resilient they are?? Good for her for bucking up and jumping back in for another day.
Hang in there, Mama. :)

blooming desertpea said...

Oh, this sucks!!
I agree with some of the commenters above that you should speak to the teacher. Kindergarten is the part of school where kids need to learn about respect and all that social stuff and it's the teacher's job to teach them, like it's the parent's job to teach their kids to navigate the waters. But MQ should NOT being subjected to navigate tzunamis!

AmandaD said...

There are just no words for these moments. So sorry.

Christine said...

my mommy heart hurts for you, love. school is so complicated. i hate it sometimes.

{{hugs}}

another note--Next time you are here PLEASE come visit--seriously.

and i love the socks and mask--we are huge LOTR fan so it appealed to my dorky little self.

xoxoxo
c--

Emily said...

Hi PM! Just wanted to post with my new profile pic. Now you can tell me apart.
Thanks for the tutorial.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh PM. This simply breaks my heart. After all the time we spend guiding them and being their everything, all we really can do is watch and let them find their own path with so many of these issues. It's extraordinarily tough. I'll be thinking of you...