Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Making Friends & Mean Girls

I love that the internet brings together people of all experiences, lives, and circumstances into one big mosh pit of vegetable soup. And boy, oh, boy, do I need that mosh pit right now.

This is going to sound corny and cheesy and odd, but I want to help Darsie make some friends. She has her casual acquaintances but no girlfriends to come over and play, no consistent friends besides her sister and brother.

I also am noticing that kids are starting to realize that Darsie is different. And not that they are mean or tease her, but she is starting to get excluded. I volunteer in Darsie's class every Wednesday and the little girls in the class were all abuzz over an upcoming birthday party for this weekend with A Princess for a Day theme. It seems the majority of the girls in the class were invited, but not Darsie. It appears that Darsie doesn't realize it, but who knows.

I've also been witnessing a lot of little girl cruelty. They are all about clubs and best friends. Luckily, they are also fickle and change best friends (and boy friends!) on a seemingly weekly basis. I did overhear a girl telling the girl that Darsie is friends with, that if she was friends with Darsie, that she wouldn't be friends with her anymore. Where do they get this behavior? Their parents? Their siblings?

Beyond setting up a play date with the little girl that Darsie levitates to in class, how would you go about facilitating positive friendships for a young girl?


Sarah said...

UGH. I cannot believe this crap is starting already. And who knows where they get it... Some people are just born to take power, and unfortunately the easiest way to do that is to divide other people. Hopefully as they grow older they'll realize that there are better ways to be a leader, but until then, I'd just encourage my kids to leave people like that alone. Not in a mean way, but just not to worry about trying to get "in" with girls like that. And hey, she can always be friends with boys! I've always thought in general they make better friends anyways. :)

Shannon said...

I is just bizarre to me. I don't remember mean girls in kindergarten, but maybe my memory is poor or I was oblivious.

I really don't care about a horde of friends or being popular. I just want her to be included and to have good experiences, you know? There is nothing suckier than feeling left out.

ShanaM said...

Unfortunately, it doesn't get better as kids get older. Girls can be so MEAN.
Friends don't just have to come from school. Marissa made lots of friends in Girl Guides (same as Girl Scouts in the U.S.). Marissa also in in SeaCadets (but that is for older kids) and she has a whole slew of different friends. She was also at programs at the Y when she was younger and made friends there. GirlScouts might be a good place to start.

Nowheymama said...

Are there any kids in your neighborhood? We rely on our neighborhood friends so much. I like Shana's ideas, too.

I am so sorry.

Momttorney said...

I was going to suggest an activity too. A smaller setting and some common ground for the girls . . . something like an art class, brownies, etc. Is there even something like that at her school, after school, so that its not too inconvenient? Maybe that setting would also allow you to get to know some of the moms and set up playdates better that way. I don't remember this kind of nastiness from that young either, but one of my closest girlfriends has a little girl in kindergarden (a "typically" developing child if you will) and they too are already starting the horrible girl drama of friends one day, enemies the next. I wish you lived closer -I'd introduce YOUR sweet girl to my friend's sweet girl!!!

Christy said...

Luckily, at our schools, you can't selectively hand out birthday invites - you have to give them to the whole class or invite no one.

My heart hurts for you - I've been there with Chloe, still am to a certain extent. The good thing is, she STILL doesn't seem to get that she is being excluded.

I don't know how you go about finding kids that might be good matches for her. We lucked up with her Saturday morning bowling league - there are some girls there that are a little older that she connects with - and in particular, a boy that is 2 years younger that has become her best friend. We will continue with bowling, for no other reason than she has connected with kids there when she hasn't been able to do that anywhere else.

Shannon said...

I have considered Girls Scouts and think I may just find her a troop to join up with. At least give it a shot.

Christy, they are supposed to invite the whole class, too...but this little girl (or rather her parents) doesn't seem to know the rules. She also consistently brings juice to school when there is a strict water only rule.

jenny said...

hey sharon, i am so sorry that D is already going through this but unfortunately I can say as someone now in my 20's who has very similar issues as D does I have spastic dipligia and waching d reminds me of myself when i was younger. Unfortunately i can say the my exclusion started in first grade or so may have bneen K but i dont remember back that far.
I am willing to bet that D does realize she is left out but does not express it i knew i was different and knew i was being lefr out so eventually I just stopped trying to be included. I did have two friends that inbited me to play with them but their parents were bery willing to explain things and accept me into thier family relm most are not like that have fait she will eventually find firends. I never really hit having a group of friends until i was in highschool and only had a few then too. I guess my point from all this rambling is that little miss D is a special girl and she will find her special friends it sucks that we have to go through this but it is what make me a stronger person and i am more willing to accept peoples faults because of being judged i realize that it hurts and is unfair to judge give d a hug from a far away CP friend

Mo said...

Oh, I'm so dreading this age and this bullsh*t that kids bounce at one another. I have no problems stepping in a being the momma bear that I can so dangerously be, even with other kids.

An April Rose said...

I'd like to possibly add, not that this would help at school per se, that most of my closest friends have not been my age. I see this with my children as well. Maybe in your search for sweet children, don't limit yourself to other kindergarteners. Maybe help her find a playmate that is a year or two older? As your eldest, D may enjoy getting to feel like a little sister, and they will be able to play without age-based peer rivalries and pressures. Scouts and boys are both good suggestions, and of course she will be loved and supported within her family :)

Katy said...

Late to party here, but I HATE mean-girl syndrome. In my (humble) opinion, one of your best options would be to put her in a program or activity that fosters and focuses on positive moral development. It could be scouts, it could be a night program at a local church--the most important thing being that children are actively encouraged to treat each other with respect. Schools are SO focused on academics these days that these basic fall through the cracks. Not mention, some (maybe many) adults encourage/enforce this type of behavior at home.

Ms.Ding said...

Sorry to hear that Darsie is having such a hard time. I bet she does know what is going on. Our little guy is in Kindergarten and is going through a lot of the same things and he is quite aware of it.

Anna said...

Playdates, playdates, playdates. It's the only way. I would also talk to the kindergarten teacher about this, mentioning everything, the party and the comments you heard. I would also talk to the other parents, they may not necessarily know that their children are being mean.

CAQuincy said...

As a Girl Scout leader for both my girls, you KNOW I'm going to suggest joining a troop! (I'm still very, very close with the girls I knew from GS as a kid.) Basically any kind of simple social thing with other girls her age can help. Playdates when possible. (We just can't seem to fit in playdates in our crazy lives, but at least we do have Scouts and the sports.)

BusyLizzyMom said...

I posted about this here
this was a pretty frequent happening when my daughter was in her pre-school/jk class. This year at a new school she has been invited to every party which is great but is yet to really have friendship.
I would speak with her teacher and hopefully she can provide some appropriate modelling for the kids if they do engage in this behaviour.
One very important relationship Elizabeth has is with a boy her age who also has CP. The 2 have been engaged to each other for the past year. Even at this young age they have an unspeakable understanding with each other, they talk to each other about medical tests, afo's and they cheer each other on at PT.
I would ask her teacher who would be a good option for a playdate and try to encourage a relationship in a safe setting at home. I find Elizabeth is lost amoungst a busy group of kids and still needs me to be part the playdate to support her and keep her on track.
It is so heart wrenching to see your child excluded when they try so darn hard.

Ilana Estelle said...


I think it is hard for any child in school, let alone a child with cerebral palsy.

There will always be children who try and segregate children who are seen as 'being different.' It's the nature of schools and some parents not teaching their children about children who are different and that all children should be accepted, it doesn't matter what they deal with.

I myself have CP and faced the same difficulties in school, but of course as an adult I see different things now.

As long as Darsie's parents' work with her emotionally to help her understand that these mean girls not wanting to be part of her life has nothing to do with her, but are clearly issues relating to the girls who clearly don't want to know her.

I am sure in Darsie's year group or class, there must be one or two other girls who are also outsiders who may need support as Darsie does. Maybe she can team up with them.

Darsie is a beautiful girl. It's a shame these girls don't see it. I am sure maturity will eventually teach them.

I wish Darsie all the luck in the world.

Kara Melissa said...

Yuck, I don't like seeing kiddos hurt or left out. I remember when I was in kindergarten the girls all shared their brush to do each others hair and they didn't want to share with me. My mom told me it's not good to share your brush anyways so that made me feel better. Mean girls suck and it breaks my heart when kids are left out of the invite to the birthday party. I think it's great you volunteer in her class so you can see the other kids and which relationships you could possibly foster with her. Possibly get in touch with other parents to set up a playdate. I like the mentions of getting involved in another activity outside of school too. I hope it gets easier and Darcie makes the friends she so deserves.

Taylors said...

I have been dreading when this time comes for Ari, and it hurts me to hear that it's happening already for you. It's probably going to be the hardest part of having two daughters with differences in my mind. I can't think of anything more heartbreaking. I think it's wonderful that you volunteer in Darsie's class. I think that it such an extraordinary opportunity to educate the girls and model empathy and good manners. Good luck!


jeverette said...

well i stumbled on your blog today and i honestly think some of us live the same lives in some sense. I feel your pain with the friends and being left out..Believe me boys can be just as cruel. I have triplets and one of them is different. He wears his casts, he walks a little slower, he stumbles some he leaves to go to pt and ot and his brothers realize this....they accept this...but others kids sometimes ignore him or don't include him because he cant keep up. This is extremely hard on a parent to watch as people compare the three to one another. In our house a big lesson everyday is include everyone all the time. I know for my son physical things may be a challenge. But I know in my heart (even when it hurts) for your daughter and my son that they will eventually be seen for the wonderful people they are on the inside and all of these little obstacles will build big character. thank you for sharing.

Tammy said...

My daughter is going through the same thing at school. Seems though it's happening only at school, not away from the school.
My daughter will not tell her friends that she has a disability though, she says they would laugh at her and not play with her.
As a parent it's hard to hear that, from your child.