Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mean Girls

I'll admit I've never seen the movie, but real life experience with mean girls is enough for me. I don't need to see a movie.

Grace has had her first experiences with mean girls this summer. She's gone to daycare since she was twelve weeks old and with a lot of the same kids so he has lots of friends there. Since she started preschool and then kindergarten last year she's made new friends, and her old daycare friends have done the same. So this summer as soon as school was out it was off to daycare. I love daycare. It's open 6 am to 6 pm, I can drop her off and pick her up whenever I make it there and I know she's well fed, cared for and entertained. I don't worry about her at all. Until this summer.

Not two weeks into summer daycare she started complaining about mean girls. Her best friend suddenly wasn't her best friend anymore and wouldn't play exclusively with her. Another girl, her same age and her older sister were also causing her trouble. Those two were the children of one of the teachers so the problem felt compounded.

It's hard to know exactly what was going on or if Grace was an instigator or a victim. She seems to have good self-esteem and I think she'll stand up for herself but when push comes to shove there's no way to know unless I wire her with a hidden transmitter and helmet cam. Now THERE is a million dollar idea. The Headband Cam. The Sharper Edge could make a mint!

Her complaints were that the other girls were "mean" to her and not playing with her or starting to play with her and then abandoning her when someone else came along. She herself was very sassy and bossy acting at the beginning of the summer and Bryon and I decided to make her stop watching iCarly and the Lindsay Lohan version of Freaky Friday which really helped her demeanor... after the whining to watch it stopped.

The girls in those shows talked terrible to their parents and adults and treated each other poorly and she was starting to imitate them. Of course she didn't think so but as soon as the viewing stopped, her attitude improved. I know this is true for myself too. Crap in, crap out. What we read and watch really does affect us even if we don't think it does.

I used to watch ALL of the Law and Order shows and one week I realized I'd seen probably 20 murders on television that week not to mention the nightly news reports. I still watch a lot of crazy stuff but I'm an adult so I get to, Grace does not.

I didn't now how to help her except to give the lame advice that she would have to work it out (how she asked?) Ummmm, yeah. She could ask someone else to play with her (there was no one else she said). She could ask to play with them (they wouldn't she said). She could tell her teacher they were being mean to her (she wasn't supposed to tattle she said). She could play with her best boy friend Andrew (he had other boy friends, no girls allowed). She could color by herself (that was boring). You can see how all of my suggestions both the good ones and the lame ones went.

I don't remember too many mean girls when I was young but a few do stand out. I remember on the school bus when I was in kindergarten, I liked to sit as close to the back of the bus as I could. Of course the last four seats were "reserved" for the high school kids. I was drawn to them. Grace is too now. I sat in the first row from the reserved seats most of the time so I could be near the cool kids and hear their conversations. One day one of the high school girls pointed at my legs and started laughing and leaned over and stroked my leg. My legs were covered in fine black hairs of course. I don't think I was abnormally hairy or anything but she commented loudly about how hairy my legs were and I was mortified.

I went home that night and asked my Mom if I could shave my legs. She said no. I used to pretend to shave my legs for a LONG time after that. Of course it didn't help but I don't remember anymore comments after that from her. I don't remember if I moved up closer to the bus driver or not. That would have been the best plan but I was five then so probably not.

I don't really remember not having anyone to play with on the playground in school. I remember there were definitely cliques and I was not in the cool ones but even we nerds banded together and had friends. I do remember one mean girl in particular who said mean things and was hateful all the time in grade school. Her name was Staci D. She was Nellie Olsen to my Laura Ingalls. Total nemesis. She was always cutting people down.

When I was around 8 1/2 I got a journal and started to keep it sporadically. One day a few weeks ago Grace asked me to get her a journal. She had been watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid over and over and wanted to start keeping her own journal. I told her it might be better to wait until she knows more than sixty sight words but she insisted so I dug out an old notebook/journal I had picked up somewhere and gave it to her.

I also dug through my drawer for my old diaries. I showed them to her. I told her diaries are private and other people shouldn't read them but I would show her mine. She was not to get them without permission. The first page I turned to was this...

See Staci really DID think she was a big shot at school AND now you also know my "real boyfriends". Of course those boys didn't KNOW they were my boyfriends. Many got much more page time through the years and even into my second diary.
I wish I had kept many more entries than I did, but even then I was more of a starter than a sustainer. Still it's interesting (embarrasing) and maybe even a little helpful to look back and remember what it was like to be 8 1/2 and boy crazy and stuck with mean girls.

Grace's journal was her own idea and she took it to daycare several days and then showed me what she had written. She came up with this system all on her own since she can't write very many words yet to fully explain her feelings. She made boxes and put Yes or No in boxes. The Yes' are all the times her feelings were hurt by the mean girls.The No's are the times her feelings were not hurt. As you can see, one day was very bad, the next was a little better.

Every night before she goes to bed Bryon and I take turns reading to her. Bryon reads one or two books and then plays the Timber game with her (his big arm is a tree that falls on her over and over and she laughs uncontrollably). I just read. Bryon is the fun parent. Well since she just doesn't know very many works to write yet she asked me to help her spell words so she could write in her diary. I thought that was a very worthwhile endeavor. She wanted to write songs in her diary. Sure, I said.

Do you know how LONG it takes to write a song and spell out all those words? Longer than I have the patience for but I've been trying with the minimal amount of eye rolling and sighing on my part. It isn't easy.

She wrote this one...
and a few others and she started a story called Mean Girls.

I checked a book out of the library called Little Girls Can Be Mean . One of the first suggestions was to have the child keep a journal. Wow, we were better than we thought! So far that has been the best suggestion really.

One morning before we left for vacation I went in to wake her up to take her to daycare so I could work from home and she started crying not wanting to go. I caved and let her stay home. The next day I let her go to Grandpa's for the day so I could work in Rolla. I don't want her to start thinking she can just avoid the problem because if this happens at school (and it will) she can't ditch school. Since we got back from vacation things seem to have settled down for her. After the first few days back at daycare I asked how things were going and she said she had "worked it out". I asked her how that was. She said she just walked away from them or told her teacher or played with someone else. Good plan.

We invited one of her friends over for a sleepover to try to spark the BFF thing back into place and Grace ended up staying at her house instead. I think that helped some.

Life is just hard sometimes and you can wear a helmet but it won't protect your heart.

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