Raising children is tough for so many reasons. As a mother I worry about everything that I possibly can. I am sure you do as well. The only person who worries more than me about my kids, is their daddy. Sometimes I think he sits around and tries to come up with new things to worry about. Then he shares his random fears with me. Great, I never would have thought about that. Now I have something new to worry about!
We make a great team (our kids will hate us one day).
If you have ever been a kid then you know how mean kids can be, especially to other kids. I preach the importance of the golden rule to my kids. I try to model my life in a way to lead by example. I am not saying that they are always angels, but more times than not, my kids do the right thing.
Today I had my first experience witnessing a child being, what I would consider mean, to my daughter. I was once a little girl. I know all too well how complicated female friendships can be. However, I decided early on that I was not going to be that mother who inserts herself into every sticky situation that my children find themselves involved in. So today I opted to sit by and watch things play out.
Since I was nine once, I remember that nine-year old drama is never started over anything actually earth shattering, but to the nine-year olds involved, it is always a HUGE deal. Evidently the girls knew each other from school or extracurricular activities prior to today’s events.
As an observer it seemed like the little girl had already decided that she did not want to be nice to my daughter. She immediately told her that SHE was not invited to play with her and her friend. She gave her a long list of reasons why then asked her to leave them alone. I will add that the words were not the worst of it but instead the tone that girls sometimes use. You know the one I am talking about. I am sure you have used it before. It cuts to the core.
Now I will not lie. When you are a mother you are a mama bear. That is your baby and in that moment someone is hurting her feelings. There is always that initial twinge way down deep inside that makes you want to go over to the little girl and tell her what a poopy head she is being. Yep. I said poopy head because I just flashed back to my childhood. I remember what it feels like for someone to hurt your feelings. But I am no longer a nine-year old little girl. I am a responsible adult. Most of the time anyway. So I just kept observing.
This was actually a perfect moment for me to see how my daughter would handle herself. I knew it was absolutely the wrong thing for me to get involved for many reasons. The biggest one being that my daughter needed to learn how to deal with conflict. Life is full of conflicts and me rushing to her defense would teach her nothing because Mom cannot always be there to solve her problems. She would have to sort this one out for herself.
Let me add here that my daughter is pretty easy-going. She plays with anyone and everyone who will. That is her nature and part of the reason why I call her my beautiful spirit. She sees everyone as equals and potential friends. So when she was hit with the request to leave the girls alone, I could see the confusion on her face. Without a word she turned and walked away.
I continued to watch her from my chair. I quietly hoped that would not be the end of things. I tend to be a passive person. I oftentimes let things go when maybe I shouldn’t. I want my kids to stick up for themselves. If they feel as though they are being treated unfairly, I want them to say so.
A few minutes passed and I saw her headed back toward the girls. She evidently had something on her mind. She had thought it through and was ready to respond. What happened next made me incredibly proud to be her mother.
She walked up to the girl and asked for a list of reasons why she didn’t like her. As she gave her list, my daughter quietly listened to them all. When the girl was finished, my daughter took her turn. She told the girl that nothing on her list seemed bad enough that they couldn’t be friends. She told her they didn’t have to be best friends but they could surely be friends. She said maybe they could start over. She just wanted to play with her and her friend.
She was asking for a fresh start. She wasn’t accusing her of being mean or telling her that she was wrong (like I might have). She wasn’t crying how unfair she was being. She was simply offering a solution as to how they could try again.
Now I wish I would tell you that the problem was resolved and that they laughed, skipped and played well together for the rest of the day. But actually the girl just said…..
Upon hearing that, my daughter did something that made me even more proud. She simply said “Okay” and turned to walk away. She didn’t argue, beg or say something hurtful. She was satisfied with the fact that she had tried and accepted what she could not change. She left to find other kids to play with.
Now please don’t think that I am saying that this little girl was horrible. She was a little girl being a little girl. I am sure my daughter has refused to play with someone before, for no good reason. It is just the nature of the gig of being a kid.
My daughter learned several life lessons today. She learned that not everyone is going to like her no matter what she does. She learned that it is important to listen to what people have to say. She learned that you should absolutely stick up for yourself. She learned that in the end, you don’t always get your way. And the biggest one as far as I am concerned, she learned that someone’s opinion of you does not determine your self-worth. She accepted the situation for what it was and that was okay.
As a parent, there is no greater feeling than being proud of your children. I told her that I was proud of her for the way that she handled everything. I think it is important for us to tell our kids when they do something right. I think my daughter is on her way to being a pretty cool adult one day.