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.


Mom said...

It hurts me to read this, but Gracie will start school soon and have more friends than these girls ever thought about. She's sweet, fun love and just plain fun. I love our Gracie because of her individuality, but girls sure can be mean!

L3 said...

Girls can be so mean!! Cul de sac girl and Trampoline girl will be the mean girls probably all their lives.

Emily Heizer Photography said...

You know, this hurts me, because I was basically Grace when I was small. Elementry school was a miserable experience for me and I begged to be homeschooled for years. To this day, as a full grown adult, I wish I had been. I would have been better off. Those girl were terrible.

I think you don't make them all play together, BUT, I do think you intercede. The girls need to know that it is wrong to pick on, be mean, put down, or bully other children. And it should be brought to their parent's attention. Grace is being a great sport about it, and we want that to continue, and she should have no knowledge of anything, but the parents should know that their girls are being little sh*ts and they need to knock it off. If they don't want to play together, that's fine, but we don't play the nasty, manipulative games like what went down on the trampoline.

A million years ago, I used to teach nursery and preschool, and if I had witnessed that, the bossy brat would have been hauled out of the trampoline and slapped into time out and banned from playing. She also would have been forced to apologize to Grace. That is not acceptable behavior and "not how we treat our friends," (whether they are really friends or not, we don't treat others that way.) And that's at the point where an adult needs to intercede. If you see something like that again, don't be afraid to speak up. Hey! If we're going to play on the trampoline, WE ALL get to play, or the trampoline is going to be off limits to everybody. Grace, bounce!

If I didn't know any of those kids, and witnessed that, I wouldn't have tolerated it for a second. But that's the teacher in me talking too. I'm bossy. And controlling. lol And I don't like those mean girls one bit!

And at L3, she is totally right. I follow the family blog of one of the brats who used to make my life miserable when I was 5-12 years old... She's just as much a meanie now as she was then. She is a horrible, self absorbed, snotty person. And her life is perfectly charmed. I look at all the crap I have gone through and I screamed at the ceiling in my bedroom, WHY WHY WHY does she get the charmed life, and I get the leftovers when she is as VILE a person as THAT?!

Emily in Wonderland said...

I was logged into the wrong account there. This is the account you should know me as. :)