One of the blogs that I visit regularly and enjoy is "navel gazing at its finest" . A couple of days ago she wrote about her young daughter's problems making friends. (The link will take you to that posting.) It was a very wrenching post in some ways, partly because it struck so very close to home. Evidently it struck close to home for a lot of people, because she received 91 comments (!) from other women, nearly all of whom had had various and similar experiences themselves when they were around that age....including me!
It's a very, very hard thing to go through, thinking no one likes you....not having a close friend....or having a friend turn into an enemy overnight....any of these can seriously affect self-esteem and self-image for YEARS after. When you're 8 (or 10 or 13) having any type of related problem can be DEVASTATING. At that age and into the teenage years emotions are right beneath the surface and it doesn't take much to send a sensitive kiddo into despair.
And for a mom, watching their daughter go through it is heart-breaking. It's heart-breaking because its awful to see your child in pain and its made worse because nobody has a good idea of how to handle it. Banging a few 3rd grader's heads together is totally out of the question! But its tempting!!
It seems to be a huge problem, much more wide-spread than I ever thought. Go and read the original posting and comments and you'll see what I mean. (link above) Post after post from women who said, "I thought I was the only one" or "This could have been me." We all pretty much thought it was unique to us! But I'm beginning to think it happens to every little girl in some form or other.
* No one came to my sister's 7th birthday party. No one!
* I was the victim of the betrayal and cruelty of my former best friend at age 11.
* My daughter cried and cried because no one liked her in the 5th grade.
*Maddie-the-Great went through not having a best friend and thinking no one liked her in the early part of the 2nd grade.
As serendipity would have it, it's turned out that M-t-G was have a problem again. She had met a Best Friend late last year and they were as close as girls can be at that age. At the beginning of this school year, another girl joined the mix. So now there were three best friends. Well, a triad friendship is not easy to maintain at that age, there always seems to be jockeying for position and frequently two of the three will suddenly decide they don't want to be friends with #3 anymore. There will then be some incident where hurtful or mean things are said and #3 goes home devastated and in tears, often more than once.
Moms struggle to comfort, console, support, protect, and help their little one deal with the situation. Often the moms' just feel helpless and like a failure. Its only natural.
When M-t-G talked and cried to her mom, Ratchlet felt no different from all those other moms. She didn't know what to do to help her little girl either. But my Ratchlet, is a mom extraordinaire and she didn't give up. I'm sure she researched it and then she advised M-t-G to confront the friends and tell them that what they did (whatever it was, I don't remember that part) wasn't very nice and that "friends didn't make friends cry". The advice, in and of itself, was not that unusual. Most moms probably try to get their daughter to stand up for herself. But most little girls who are on the receiving end of this kind of thing are not able or willing to do this. Confrontation doesn't come easy to 8 year olds.
But, (and now here is the part where we can all stand up and sing, "Goody, goody") Maddie-the-Great did it!!! She went right up to them and said (paraphasing here) she didn't want to play with them anymore because what they said was mean and hurt her feelings. Then she said, "Friends don't make friends cry!"
WHOO HOO, MADDIE!! Way to go. I'm so proud of her I could burst!! I am thrilled that she didn't just roll up and fade away like so many of us did. Oh, she was scared, and nervous, and still upset and unsure what would happen but nevertheless, she stood up for herself and told her friends how they had made her feel and she walked away! She didn't let the bullies win! That's an enormous accomplishment. She chose not to be the victim! It was a very courageous thing to do.
As a postscript, it appears all three girls are back to being friends.
Maddie-the-Great ....What a kid!