Thursday, April 30, 2009

The mean girl

I should be packing or cleaning since the kids are asleep (or showering!), but alas... here I am again.

Erin is the oldest child, the guinea pig, the experiment. Everything is so new and unknown with each new phase. Take nursery. I spent a lot of time in there and knew all about it--their schedule, snacks, which kids to stay away from or they might bite. Alex? Second child. I don't need to know what goes on in there, he's fine. Heck, I don't even have to take him there. One of the deacons wants to take him? Sure. Why not?

So when I sent Erin to her preschool this year I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what went on there. Again, the unknown. And she's loved it. That place is incredible. She tells me all about it when I pick her up--which is how I know about Priscilla. This has been going on for a long time now and I'm sure I don't know everything about it but here's what I do know. Erin started saying things like "She's not my friend!" (in that typical, immature, teenage girl sort of way). What? My four year old is becoming one of those kind of girls? No, no Erin. You need to be nice to everyone and everyone should love you too because you are so fabulous. But little comments continued to trickle in. I started to wonder if Erin really was... mean.

There was the lip gloss incident in which both girls, secretly planned I'm sure, to bring theirs to school so they could trade--a sign a true friendship. This sort of bothered me because Erin ended up with this cheap, hot pink, messy junk while Priscilla got the good stuff (that I would wear). Okay, whatever. But after a few days the friendship was on the rocks again. I started hearing about how she had to give her more lip gloss (I guess in order to remain her friend).

Who is this girl? I started to wonder. Maybe Priscilla is the mean one after all and Erin is just trying to be accepted. Wouldn't every mother like to think their kid is the good one? If only there was a way to find out. Aha, Priscilla's birthday party. All the kids in her class were invited and Erin was so excited.

Now, keep in mind that we live in south Florida and that over half of the birthday parties we've been to have been for Latinos. This is significant because they last FOREVER!! And it would not be unusual to have pony rides, bounce houses, theatrical shows, a magician, and personalized embroidered towels given to each of the 500 guests at the same fully catered party that would cost more than my college education. I learned long ago to arrive at least an hour after when it starts, but I'm finding it is still too early. There's no escape! Five hours at a party for someone you hardly know when the kids are all tired is too much. And don't make the mistake of thinking that they will cut the cake at any moment because they won't, but they will be offended if you leave before it's cut.

Such was the case with Priscilla's over-the-top High School Musical party in which personal t-shirts featuring P's face were made for about 50 family members, cast members from the movie came to perform a show and all the little girls were dressed up in their red and white HSM costume. All except Erin and one other girl from school. I saw no point in forking out $20 for a lame costume for a movie neither of us has even seen just to fit in at the party. But I was there for a reason. What was up with this brat? She loved being the center of attention and dancing with a huge circle of kids surrounding her. She also kept changing clothes because I guess there are numerous HSM costumes to own and flaunt. Anyway, I noticed that every time Erin went to talk to her, she either said one thing and turned away to be with her cooler costume wearing friends, or she completely ignored her! And what got me is how much Erin wanted her to like her and how she just kept trying to be her friend. It wasn't just her but all the kids. They all sort of worshipped this girl. "Hey, wake up kids! She's MEAN! What about just being friends with each other?"

Then I asked this other girl's mother and she said the same thing was happening with her kid. One week Priscilla was her friend and the next she wasn't. She'd even roped her into giving her a special necklace. Erin asked her if she liked the Cinderella doll she'd gotten her for her present and she blew her off, "I did not get a Cinderella doll from you!" One day Priscilla said she wasn't Erin's friend because she thought her hair looked weird. Yeah. And today she didn't want to go to school because she was afraid Priscilla might not be her friend. Jared and I both talked to her about how there are so many other great kids in her class that she could be friends with and she agreed. Problem solved. Thirty seconds later she said, "I really want to give Priscilla a princess bracelet." Huh?!? I don't get it. What kind of sick hold does this child have on them? Why do people automatically flock to someone like this?

It reminds me of fourth grade when my two best friends were Wendy (a nice, genuine girl who was really my friend) and Jenny (a not so nice girl who I had to be friends with because Wendy was). It was their influence that led me to play the flute; how could I not if both my friends did? Peer pressure. Jenny came up with this great nick-name for me and began using it on a regular basis. That would be Larda. Keep in mind, I was not in the least bit fat and I did not like being called Larda, but Wendy was my friend and Jenny came along with Wendy. I finally made a difficult decision; I decided not to play with them one recess and to play with somebody else who was very nice but I had never gotten to know. She asked me why I let Jenny call me that and then it hit me. I do not have to be friends with somebody like that. After a few days my real friend Wendy started playing with me again and Jenny stopped calling me you know what. I stood up to the mean girl!

I've realized that we can't be friends with everyone and we shouldn't expect our kids to either. While you want them to be nice to everyone, some people are not good influences, even at age four. Do I really want my child dancing to High School Musical and basing friendships on such vain and shallow things like jewelry, make-up and hair? I know I can't control who she choses to be friends with, I just wish she would not be so affected by one overpowering kid. At least I know that Erin isn't the manipulative ringleader after all. We'll see what kindergarten has in store.


Anonymous said...

I just barely started being okay with people not liking me in the last couple of years. It would be great if you could teach your kids now that being disliked is sometimes a blessing. There are certain people who I hope don't like me so that they don't bother me.

I hope Erin realizes that it's okay if Priscilla doesn't like her really soon.

Marinda said...

i really enjoyed reading your post! when i moved into my new ward a year ago, everything was great because i was just meeting the nice moms. well, there is a group of really mean girls that do everything together, have the same cleaning ladies, go to the gym everyday... etc. they exclude women at every ward or neighborhood activity. it has been really hard for the past couple of months for me to even look at those girls at church because they have been so rude to everybody. i don't think i'll ever understand why people aren't just nice to each other. so sad to see it starting at four years old. why are girls like that and boys aren't? mike couldn't care less about not being invited to things... girls just have a way of being so mean to each other.