It has begun. I’m not sure how to navigate this, but I’m going to have to figure it out because it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. What am I talking about? Mean girls. Specifically mean girls using their crafty verbal skills to exclude my daughter from their group.
This afternoon we escaped our home that had reached near triple digits inside and fled to the bay. God bless the bay! God bless going to the bay with husbands! What a welcomed relief to not be the one carrying two children, beach toys, waterbottles, snacks, towels, tent, beach chair, boogie board, and assorted other beach-esque accessories!
We have a large bag of assorted plastic beach toys that our family views as community property while at parks and beaches. When other kids migrate into our toy zone, we encourage Selah and Josiah to invite the other children to play and choose a toy to give to them. They’re getting really good at this – even Josiah, who is afflicted with a strong case of little-brother-syndrome that makes him fight for his right to play.
But back to the girls…
Selah Grace observed from afar for quite some time. Then she worked up the courage to enter their circle, introduce herself, and ask if she could help them build their sand pit and fill it with water. They ignored her. She asked again. Still silence. Indignant that her request was met with silence she asked me with a furrowed brow why those girls weren’t answering her. What do you say? Because girls are mean to other girls sometimes and you’re better off without them anyway?
Not one to be deterred, she went back in and asked again…a little louder. You know, just in case their lack of hearing was the original problem. This time they asked Selah her age, which always gets a response of, “a little four,” these days. What did those crafty cats tell her? “You have to be five or six to play this with us.”
Thankfully she seemed good with this. She skipped away to join little brother, Nate, and I in the shallow water and updated us happily on the age requirement. I am sure Nate and I both shot narrowed eyes at the manipulative cohort (couldn’t help it), Nate reassured Selah that she will always be one of his very favorite play friends, and then we went about the business of enjoying ourselves in nearly histrionic proportions to make Selah laugh. To make a big deal about how much more fun playing with our family is anyway. And okay, to maybe make those girls see how awesome our little girl is and make them feel a ting of regret for not including her in their party. I’m not saying it’s a proud moment. Just an honest one. Thankfully I have a decade of personal growth to get through before the middle school years.
I asked Nate how we parent her through mean girls. He observed that she’s still just so innocent and lamented that as a daddy he doesn’t want her to lose her innocence, but that he also doesn’t want her to go through life completely gullible. It’s definitely a high-wire act to walk.
Be brave, dear daughter. You’re right. It’s not fair. You have to wear a shirt in public. You have to brush your hair every third day or so. You will ask girls to play and they will ignore you. You will ask to be their friend and they will say no. You will ask again and they will lie and make up stupid rules. It will feel confusing. And it will feel sad. But be brave dear daughter and keep believing. Be courageous enough to keep asking and courageous enough to keep kindness in your own heart. Your family will always be here to run back to for reassurance and to square your shoulders again toward the world, gently nudging you forward, and whispering for you to go. Be courageous. Be brave. Be kind. Because while the mean girls are always going to be there, you don’t have to be one of them and your best friends are waiting for you to find them, to ask them to play.