I don’t know if it’s because she is an only child, but since her days at head start, my daughter, Leeana, has always found herself in a little clique. In head-start and Pre-K she teamed up with Julia, Henrietta, and Sophia. In kindergarten it was Olivia, Tenaya, and a new Sophia. Now in the first grade, her little crew remains the same minus Olivia, who was dropped for, from what I understand, wanting to play wrestle.
I’m pretty sure every little girl’s cattiness develops just a few minutes after birth. Since the age of 3, I’ve seen my daughter’s “frenemies” (a term she may have learned in school or from the Housewives of Miami) hand out vicious doses of the silent treatment, gossip behind each other’s back, and even give backhanded compliments. Once, a little girl told my daughter that she wasn’t invited to her birthday party because she has curly hair. Apparently curly hair is a no-no for any swanky Pre-K gathering.
I’m no expert on gender differences, but I’ve never seen boys behave this way. From my side of the fence as a girl-mom, the grass is flourishing in the boy yard. They play, punch each other, giggle, and play some more. No mean words, no icy smiles, no secret vendettas. They’re not worried about their friends’ hair texture or rough demeanor. They just play. Like kids.
My daughter’s teachers, the other girls’ parents, the school guidance counselors and I have all tried our best to talk to these girls and get them to be more kind to one another, but last week I somehow managed to get tangled up in their gossip.
Leeana came home from school one afternoon, and she looked completely deflated. She gave me a quick, monotone run down of her day, and pouted the entire ride.
When we got home, after a nice snack, I sat her on the couch and asked her what was wrong. She started to cry and told me that one of the girls (the leader of the little crew) kicked her out of the club and told all of the other girls not to talk to her, so she spent the entire day alone. Not only that, the girl told Leeana that she hated her.
I hugged my little girl and told her that her friend didn’t mean any of it. I said that the girl doesn’t really know what the word “hate” means.
“Someone at home probably said that to her when they were angry and she just brought their anger and mean words to school and used them on her friends.”
Obviously I hadn’t thought this explanation all the way through, because her next question was:
“Who is mean to her at home, mama?”
“There is a family of angry trolls that lives in the basement of her house and they come out when everyone is sleeping and say mean things to her.”
At that, Leeana laughed until she had to pee.
She wasn’t sad anymore, her friend wasn’t a villain, and she wasn’t taking it personally. Problem solved, right? I thought so, until the next day when I picked her up from school. She was smiling from ear to ear, and she ran up to me and said, “Mama, I told her that you said that she lives with angry trolls, and everyone laughed and laughed.”
And the day after that:
“Mama, she told me that her mom said that I’m a mouse.”
I’m still working on a good comeback.