Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In Which That Girl Realizes She Has the Temperment of a Mother Bear

This morning I was driving little j and her friend to school and little j was telling her friend about this silly song she made up about four mini marshmallows. She sang the song and her friend said, "I don't want to hear it right now. Did you see my headband? Do you like it?"

A few minutes later there was a song on the radio about what you want to be when you grow up and friend said she wanted to be a vet. I asked little j what she wanted to be and she said, "A cowgirl." (Of course!) And then she said something else that I couldn't hear and friend said, "I know! You've told me a hundred times." (You can infer the tone.)

I looked back and little j looked like she'd just been slapped. So I said, "What were you saying?" And she just mumbled, "Nothing."

It was awful. I wanted to give friend a lesson in manners, but I held my tongue. Wait, that's too mild -- I wanted to lash out and tell her how inappropriate her behavior was, make her feel about two inches tall, and make her think twice about treating little j so badly. Of course, I didn't. But it was so hard to see little j being treated that way. I know it is something that she will have to work out with her friend -- the process of negotiating friendships and boundaries -- but I don't think I've ever felt so angry or protective.

Perhaps the feeling comes from the fact that I've seen this same behavior before. Perhaps it comes from knowing that little j is respectful of her friends' feelings because it is something that we talk about -- our simple rule is: treat others' like you want to be treated. I want to tell her to say something like, "You know, that really hurt my feelings." But I know how hard confrontation is -- I don't do it well either.

I honestly never knew what would push my buttons in terms of being protective -- now I know at least one thing: emotional bullying. Watch out mean girls.


Sally HP said...

Oh my gosh, this is so timely! I just had my first mama bear experience at the park when a bunch of older kids were having Henry "chase" them, and then the 5th grade-ish girl said to him (after he said "See my new Spiderman Sunglasses?!") I don't know what you're talking about, and besides, you're weird!

This was after seeing him get kind of mocked unbeknownst to him for about 10 minutes. So I did confront the girl, because he's three and she was about 10...I wish her mother had been in hearing range! But I can see how the car would be much different. Yikes, i'm not looking forward to this part of parenting!

That Girl said...

Kids can be so mean. And it's that insipid and insidious whispering that drives me crazy. I'm not looking forward to it either! But at least the mamas can commiserate and lend emotional support.