Monday, February 4, 2008

Girl Power

Growing up, I was one of those people who was pretty much friends with everyone. I didn't identify as being in one group over the other. I still don't. While it was beneficial, it's also affected the way I engage with people yet today. I don't allow people to get too close to me, I think it's a protective measure that I have in place. I skirt the closeness of many friends, keeping in touch, but not constant contact. I have a few people that I talk to regularly, and to be honest only one of them is someone I call a best friend, one who I can share anything with and know she will never shit on me.

(Crap, this post is completely going in a direction I didn't mean it to already.)

I was friends with this one girl in grade school, Becky. She was a good friend to me and we did lots together. She, however, was not part of the "in" crowd, she fell into the "dork" crowd, for lack of a better word. This was not apparent to me in grade school, but once we started middle school I learned more about the cliques of life. I moved away for a year & a half, coming back to start 9th grade high school. During that time, we fell apart. I made new friends that year, but I'd still run into Becky in the halls or a class together. I felt the sting of peer pressure in force that first year. That person's not cool, or ew, why do you want to hang with that person? I tried to walk the line, but it was very difficult.

Let's face it, girls can be cruel to each other. And it continues into womanhood. The female gender picks at each other rather than supporting each other in many cases. The name calling, the clothes comparisons, etc.

I've tried to stand up for those less fortunate, less pretty, less wealthy, etc. But I have also succumbed to the pettiness. I'm not proud of that. As you grow up, you learn who your true friends are, and I'm sorry I haven't been a better friend to some. I'm working to change that.

And now, onto the real issue of this post. The friendship crap has started already for Ariana. They are in 4you kindergarten for cyin' out loud! But, she's already witnessed exclusion by a couple. And not all in school. But I'm going to take up the school experiences.

On our visit to class before school started, we met other members of her class. Of course, most of the kids were shy and didn't really interact with each other. We felt a bit wierd as one mom seemed to be pushing a friendship between her daughter "E" and Ariana. Her insistency is what made us hesitant. The girls colored next to each other, but didn't really play together. Fast forward to the next week and class begins. Ariana meets new friends and can't wait to get to school to play. She talks about her new friends at school, but there's one that she talks about alot. "C" is pretty much like Ariana from what I've witnessed. They are peas in a pod. E's mom continues to push a relationship between the two girls, sharing that E is shy and doesn't have friends. She wants to get together on the weekend, etc. Quite frankly, the woman was annoying. (You know how there are some people you just don't like, no matter how hard you try? She's one for me.)

I want Ariana to develop her own friendships without my interference. I also encourage her to be friends with everyone, and stick up for those less fortunately. So I faced a challenge of me personally not liking this woman and our girls being friends. Over the semester, the girls have become friends which I'm alright with. On most levels. What bothers me is that most of the other kids do not play with E. So, Ariana is pretty much it besides another boy in class. Ariana plays with all the kids in class, but I worry about them excluding her one day because she is friends with someone who is on the outside of the circle. How do I balance that?
These are the kids she'll be in school with the rest of her school time. They'll be in grade school, middle, & high school together.

There is another situation that has caused me to be shocked at how early the "girl" spirit occurs. So, Ariana is friends with C. H says that C is HER best friend and no one else can be friends with her. Ariana comes home to tell me that she can't be friends with C anymore because H is her best friend. I try to explain that she can be friends with whomever she'd like if they return the friendship. I don't think she really gets it, but how do I explain that some girls are like that?

I want her to be independent, proud of herself, and a good friend. As a parent, this is much more difficult than I imagined. I battle my own demons while trying to teach her. And of course, I want to protect her from hurt feelings and broken hearts. I know it will happen, but I just didn't think it would be this soon.


Aunt Becky said...

That's a toughie. Girls can be so very cruel.

And I echo that I can't believe it's happened so soon. I thought that stuff didn't happen until Junior High.

Anonymous said...

It's so hard to let go and let our kids do their own things and have their own space. I hate giving my kids their own space. ;(

C went through a bit of that last year, and now this year he hangs w/different kids, and these boys have been best buds all year, and are very kind to each other. I'm sure next year another kid will be in the mix, and/or the group will change all together.

I think you're doing the right thing. Letting Ana know she can be friends with whoever she wants and letting her know what a friend is. It's then up to her to do what she wants with whom. I honestly believe good people attract other good people. She'll be OK. (It'll likely be tougher on you).

One thing that helped Colton, is he invited ALL the boys from his class to his b-day party. Then, they were all together at another party. From then on, the kids all socialized more together.

Or, you could tell her that boys are more fun to play with anyway...but I don't think Jason would be too comfortable with that idea! ;)