Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Odd Girl Out

This is my sweet baby girl.

Perhaps you heard that she just turned five.

She is having a tough time with the neighborhood kids.  Or perhaps Joey and I are having a tough time on her behalf, she doesn't always seem that troubled by it.

A family lives behind us with a boy Logan's age (7/8), and a girl who is in kindergarten (so one year older than Grace).  Since our kids were old enough to play outside these two have always come running to join them.  They've always gotten along very well and had a good time.

This spring, the playgroup has expanded.  Now it includes a girl (who happens to be in Logan's class) who has a trampoline.  Gracie, being as outgoing and friendly as she is, has no problem including this new girl in playtime.  However, I think this new girl is a big ole "B".  She's flat out mean to Gracie.  And she's managed to include the little girl from behind our house in the meanness.  All the kids will run up to jump on the trampoline, but trampoline girl tells Gracie she's not allowed to jump because she's too small.  Well, I'll just tell you, Grace is bigger than this girl times two.  So Gracie very patiently stands at the side of the trampoline and watches them jump.  Which breaks my heart.  So occasionally I'll walk out and ask why she's not allowed to jump.  And trampoline girl will say, "Fine, she can jump."  And Gracie will get on the trampoline and start bouncing around, and the others kids, led by trampoline girl, will decide they don't want to jump anymore. 

Recently, we've also added cul-de-sac girl to the group.  She is Logan and trampoline girls age, and follows right in trampoline girls footsteps.  Yesterday, Logan and Grace went out to find some kids to play with.  Ten or so minutes later Logan came back with two boys from up the street to play Wii.  I asked where Grace was and he said, "On the kids behind us back porch."  Joey and I look out the window and are befuddled that Gracie is out there, but with a grown up lady we don't know.  Logan informs us it is cul-de-sacs mom.  We watch her chat with Gracie, then cul-de-sac girl and back yard girl come out with a beach towel, chat to back yard's mom and walk off with cul-de-sacs mom.  Gracie looks a little lost for a moment and Joey is furious at cul-de-sacs mom.  He walks out on the back porch to tell Gracie to come on home. 

When she gets in the house I ask where the other girls went.  Tears coming to her eyes, she says to the pool.  I ask if cul-de-sacs mom asked her to go, too.  She said she was invited, but I have my doubts.  If she was really invited, I can't imagine Grace not wanting to go. 

Joey is furious and says he wants to talk to cul-de-sacs mom.  I explain that we can't force the other girls to be friends with Gracie.  They are all older than her and seem to feel that means they have the right to be mean to her.  If cul-de-sac girl didn't want to invite Gracie we can't force that.  I also feel like running to Grace's rescue isn't exactly the right answer either, though that's absolutely what I want to do each and every time something happens.

In the end, my stomach hurts as I write this.  Grace is a fun, outgoing, friendly girl who has no trouble playing with anyone.  And it breaks my heart for her to have to stand on the side and watch all the other girls be friends.