“When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.”

5 Nov

Her eyes have darkened and she stomps her feet a lot.

She dawdles, and she defies. She yells and she bosses and she hits.

She runs to my arms, and pushes me away.

The circles grow under her eyes, clouded over with the not telling of something that hurts.

This pain-this helpless, questioning wonder-this I wasn’t expecting for a few more years at the very least.

**************

This week my daughter, my bubbly, vivacious happy go lucky girl seems to have been trapped in with a bully.

She’s friends with the little dude, or at least, we thought so. They’d run around the school yard together. Even the teacher thought it strange that something was up-they were inseparable.

But a cloud started to hover over her head this week, and only got worse. As I dragged her out of a store, something I have never had to do, I wondered what was going on. Growing up and attitude couldn’t be the whole problem, could it?

Last night she had a bad night, was left to cry herself to sleep. In the morning, the hateful sad look on her face told me it wasn’t normal. Something, something was wrong.

We talked, and she mentioned this boy was hitting, punching, pushing. When she told, he said it was someone else, and nothing was done.

She’s been carrying this all week.

She’s assertive, but she’s never encountered someone who is gleefully MEAN to her. She’s never had to deal with another child not wanting to hang out-at worst, she’s had someone not want to play with her. It’s like her control was suddenly thrown out the window.

The teacher had no idea, and reassured her that she was there, and listening. We have been reassuring her we’re here, and that a friend doesn’t hurt, doesn’t make you feel bad, and for good measure, if telling the teacher doesn’t work and it gets worse, aim for the jewels.

I will not let my daughter be a victim. I will not let her learn this role.

Learning to sit and take it in a way led to me not being able to tell anyone when I was being molested. I should be able to tell someone-that was the message ground into me. Not that it would be the other person who would be punished-I would need to find my solution. The teacher didn’t mention anything about talking to the other child-I’m sure she’ll keep an eye out, but my concerns are legion.

He started out as a nice friend, or so it seemed. They’d mess around, play fighting from what I understand. But now it’s escalated into her losing sleep and being upset. What’s going on with this kid, to make mine such a mess? Will someone keep an eye out, or will my daughter again have to be the one to say “Make him stop” instead of someone watching him and stopping him before it’s an issue.

I have seen that haunted look. I have had that haunted look, held in pictures, the shadows under my eyes, the secrets trapped. I never, ever want to see it on her face again.

It might be nothing. It might be resolved, h might have just become a little drunk on having a nice friend who didn’t always fight back.

But as someone else said to me, I might turn around and see that he’s taught her to throw rocks at cats.

********************************

We tell her it’s wrong. It’s not nice. It’s not a friend.

She is confused, I see it writ large on her face, the pain of having to give up a friend, the confusion, the knowing only good people who love you for 5 years and then suddenly duplicity and meanness out of spite she is surrounded by. I try to explain that she should take care of her, not care what others think, not truly.

She stares at me, and I wonder how much longer she’ll believe me.

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11 Responses to ““When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.””

  1. nessa November 5, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

    I sooo hear you. We have had friend issues, too. I think it helps to teach them the exact words/ phrases that they can say directly to that person. Have her practice with you. If she can yell at you, LOUDLY, 20-30 times “You can’t hit me!!!!”, she will probably feel comfortable saying to this boy the next it happens. Really make her yell it, too. They need to find their voice.

  2. cj November 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm #

    Hard as it might be, the solution is probably to teach her to rely on herself, and you. I say that because you may not be able to rely on others to look out for her when you’re not there.
    But she may not trust you if you inadvertantly present yourself as the friend-taker-away-er. Speaking from my own childhood, the “you can’t play with him” treatment doesn’t work too well. You’re the villain and she’s just likely to rebel.
    Giving her self-worth, and teaching her what a good friend should and shouldn’t do, might help.

    my cheap 2 cents

  3. thordora November 6, 2008 at 9:04 am #

    oh no, there’s no forbidding-there’s looks of explaining that this is NOT what a friend does. I can’t forbid something I’m never around anyway, and when my father expressed his displeasure, it made me MORE curious.

    We’re trying to focus on the behaviours for now.

    nessa-we were practising the yelling this morning. She digs it. 🙂

  4. nessa November 6, 2008 at 9:08 am #

    Yelling = FUN!!!

  5. nylonthread November 6, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    We’re dealing with the issue that my dear, sweet, Rosie IS the bully. She told us last night, “I can’t help myself” when Reid comes by and she must hit him. We said in unison, “Oh yes you can!” (that phrase is coming up a lot isn’t it? OBAMA!!).

    She’s also told us that she’s hitting Reid because she’s sad that she’s not at her old school and misses all her old friends. Kindergarten was a big change. We are taking action: she’s under a behavior contract and we are withholding all treats/privileges at home until her teacher tells us that she’s been good for a week.

    I hope Vivian’s teachers are dealing with her bully (and the bully’s parents) in a productive way and not closing their eyes to it. Make sure that the teacher is working with them!! Although they may not be legally able to discuss it with you.

  6. bromac November 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    UGH. I’m so sorry she is having this problem. It is so heartbreaking to see them in pain.

    Like Nylon, my daughter is the bully right now. She is a very intense little person and she is absolutely in love with a boy at school. He is all she talks about. Sometimes, he isn’t as enthusiastic about playing with her as she is with him. Soooo, she hits him.

    We have been discussing how better to deal with her feelings. I think the practice, like some others mentioned, is a good idea. I wouldn’t “yell” myself, b/c you canbe assertive without yelling and I think it is teaching bad communication, but practicing with her what to do when this kid bullies her.

  7. thordora November 6, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    I like the yelling in this context because ti teaches her that she has the right to demand her space, and to draw attention to herself when something she doesn’t want is occuring. Believe me, I spend every OTHER second of the day shushing her. I want to make sure that when backed into a corner, she will yell, scream, kick-whatever she needs to do. Never too early to teach her how to be bigger than she is IMO.

    And before I make anyone feel like shit-I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem at home-but it’s odd, And odder was that no mention was made of talking to the child-just for Vivian to tell on him. I didn’t like that.

  8. nessa November 6, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    Yeah, I agree. When they are older and have better language and more maturity, I will expect them to communicate when possible. But at 5, I expect my child to be as vocal as possible when they feel threatened, whether it is a kid at school or the creepy dude that “lost his dog.”

    Our daughters are being raised in a culture that condones violence against women and I refuse to raise daughters who become victims because they were too afraid to speak up and assert themselves. I am not equating school bullying with sexual or other assault, but when we teach our daughters how to deal with bullies, we are laying the groundwork for their reactions to physical intimidation later in their life.

    Perhaps I am overcompensating as a person who experienced an attempted assault. But that assault remained only an attempt because I had a voice and I used it.

  9. C.Mirro November 7, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    At 7,my son is now coming home from school worried that it’s not cool to be smart,and that he won’t have any friends{as was told to him by an older boy} And he’s not wanting to wear his fave shirt anymore because “so and so” said it looked stupid.No Dora fruit chews either…this is shit I thought I wouldn’t have to think about for another few years anyhow.He’s always been an independent,strong minded kid.It’s amazing how those other little buggers can creep in there,and start making things uncomfortable,and scary.

  10. thordora November 7, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    Dude, that’s exactly it. And we didn’t do day care, so she’s so NOT used to, well, evil beyond her parents.

    She’s doing good now. She understands that she doesn’t have to put up with it.

    Scary is right. My heart will break multiple times by the time she’s 16!

  11. allyo November 12, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    I am suddenly even more appreciative of our preschool’s focus on respecting each others bodies. Jamie knows at 4 that the response to someone hitting him is to announce loudly, for all to hear, that they may NOT hit him. I hope this doesn’t change as he gets older.

    He’s a boy, but I have had moments of realization lately that he is at the mercy of his peers and those that are older than him. I am so not ready to send him to school and am a little glad that his birthday means he’ll be almost 6 when he starts kindergarten.

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