Ugh! Kids...

Friday, May 1, 2009
Every parent knows that sometimes dealing with the emotions of kids is like riding a roller coaster. And from what I hear, girls can be worse than boys. My girlfriend Tracey told me that the emotional roller coaster really starts gearing up around 3rd grade. I figured I was safe for a year or two. Until yesterday...

I was standing at the end of our driveway waiting for the bus to arrive. When it did, I noticed that Emma, still seated, turned to her seatmate who also happens to be one of the 1st grade class mates and friends, and rolled her eyes. I could see her lips moving but couldn't make out what she was saying. So, being the concerned mother that I am, I asked her what the look was all about. She proceeds to tell me that this is what the friend said, "You need to give me a dollar tomorrow and when you get into your house, you need to drink out of the toilet." Now, none of this seemed to phase Emma one bit, but I, on the other hand, was raving mad, but trying hard not to say anything that would influence Emma to have negative thoughts about the friend. And oh, by the way, this is the same friend who came here to play and only wanted to here for the details.

We came inside where I made Emma a snack and we chatted casually about what the friend said. Emma asked me why she would say those things to her when they are friends. She said that most of the time the friend is nice to all the other girls except for her yet the friend continues to ask Emma to invite her over to play every day when they are on the bus together. OK, I'm not ready for a conversation like this. I'm just not prepared. First graders aren't supposed to be up against this kind of stuff at such a young age.

I take the high road and tell Emma that there are plenty of other girls in her class who are kind to her and genuinely want to be her friend. I don't want to focus on "the friend" in any negative way. Who knows what's going on with her and why she's saying these things. I know that the friend has an older brother who is 11, and perhaps she's hearing some of what she's saying to Emma from him. I don't want to jump to any conclusions.

Later in the evening as we are working on Emma's homework together, she elaborates a bit more on a few other things the friend has said. Things like "Emma has issues". I've had a few hours to contemplate this situation, and I decide to use it as an opportunity to teach Emma the importance of using kind words. I try to help her understand that words can be hurtful, and sometimes young children don't always understand exactly what they are saying and how it affects someone else. I fail to mention that this is often the case with adults too!!

It's heartbreaking for a parent. The pain of a child becomes your pain. I end our conversation by telling Emma to let me know if it continues, and if it does, I promise that I will address it with either her teacher or the mother of the friend.

Some of life's lessons are best learned by experience. I know now that Emma has seen first hand how words can hurt and how important being a kind and caring friend is. An important lesson that she will surely use for the rest of her life.

1 comment

April said...

As always Sheil I admire your parenting skills. Communication and not saying anything negative toward her friend is key. Em may not understand why her friend said those things, but she's still her friend. She probably picked up on those words at home. We all need friends and regardless of what age we are there are always situations like this. You know...even at my age I'm still having them, but they are my friends.