Monday, September 9, 2013

Girl Trouble

I don't even know where to begin this blog post.  I've typed the first sentence about 15 times and have finally resorted just to writing this in an effort to have some sort of introduction into this topic.  There's no pretty way to write it, I guess.

Doodlebug suffers from sudden-onset preteen ennui and sullenness, but I think I expected that.  Several parents have warned me that there was a chance that he'll no longer speak to me after a certain age, and I can certainly see where that may be true.  He just stares at me, either blankly or with much malice depending on his mood and what I've dared to say.  Obviously these generalizations aren't a guarantee, but so far it's been fairly accurate - he flip-flops back and forth between grumpy preteen and snuggly boychild quite often, and while I don't know that I'm going to like 11 very much, I have confidence that I'll muddle through somehow.  I guess 11 years of not totally failing as a parent have given me that much.

Then there's Boo. 

People had warned me about girl drama, too, and I've kept a careful eye open for it, wondering how on earth it was going to manifest in my particular female specimen.  Here's how it has evolved for me: it started young.  Two- and 3-year-old girls are sassy creatures, constantly asserting their dominance and mothering instincts over the entire household, stuffed animals and pets included, and parents wonder how on earth their daughters can get any worse.  (I was guilty of that as well, when Boo was that age.)  Then they turn 6, give or take, and everything ramps up a notch.  The sass becomes more direct, more personal, and it's generally targeted at one particular person like Mom, Dad, or a sibling.  Then they turn 8, 9, whatever age happens to be a year or two before the onset of true adolescence/puberty (I think...), and suddenly the drama doesn't stop at the door of the house.  Other people get dragged in.  Cliques form in schools right around this age, and the girls start to flock together like small wakes of vultures, actively preying on one another on occasion.  Friendships that were formed in kindergarten fall apart because differences - even subtle ones - suddenly matter.

Boo is a sweet girl (I've been told this by other parents, so it's not just a proud mama saying that).  I've worked on acceptance with both kids, remembering how my opinionated stances and assertive bossy attitude alienated me from a lot of people when I was growing up, and Boo really tries to give people the benefit of the doubt.  However, since she's getting a little older and a little more discerning, she no longer wants to hang out with people just because they're of a similar age.  I get that.  I like that she's starting to think about who she wants to be friends with, who she can bond and share secrets with as she gets older.  Knowing who to trust and who to keep at arm's length is important.

She's come to me (me!) several times lately with questions about how to handle situations that have come up between herself and another girl, and I can tell she's really struggling with whether she wants to be friends with this girl or not, and if not, how to let this girl down gently so that there aren't any dramatic aftereffects.  I'm encouraging her to be kind but honest and firm and to remember that I am aware that there's no way she can be friends with every girl that comes along and she shouldn't expect to be, either... but I know she still idealizes friendship.  She still wants everything to be all sunshine and unicorns and rainbows, and she fears what will happen if she decides she really doesn't like someone.

As a homeschooling mom, I find myself in an equally precarious position.  If this was a public school setting, I likely wouldn't know the other girl well at all, let alone be acquainted with her parents.  I would have distance and, with distance, perspective.  The way things are, however, I do know the girl and her mother (and have met her father once) and find myself pondering the what-ifs.  It's an odd dynamic, and I hope I don't find myself in the position of defending my daughter, because this Mama Bear doesn't usually express herself well when confronted.  I don't want to cause drama any more than my daughter does, but I will speak the truth, and I won't make my daughter go outside her comfort zone just to appease others.  I don't see how that would help her in the long run, especially if she's already gone out of her way to be polite, honest, and non-confrontational as long as possible.

It's just one of those situations that is inevitable but still regrettable, and I wish I had a magic ball that told me all the 'right' things to say.  In the meantime, I've told Boo to remember that she still has plenty of friends that she does enjoy and is close to and not to worry too much about this other girl.  These things often have a way of sorting themselves out.  Any advice?


Anonymous said...

Wish I had some advice. I guess all I can say is the same thing I tell adult friends - if a friendship does more harm than good or is full of negativity, don't feel like you have to hold on to it. I've said that to my son at least a few times. :)

farmwifetwo said...

Hardest part I think girls have today is that this starts a lot earlier than it did with us. We at least made it to Jr High/Middle School with minimal issues. Not saying there weren't, just not as much. Now, it starts a lot earlier and puberty starts a few years earlier.

I have a few friends with girls and once upon a time I wanted one... I think I'll stick with boys.

Hope things settle down or distance may be the best for everyone.