The other night as I stood in the doorway to my daughters room before leaving for the night, I thought she looks like an angel. In that moment I felt the need to say, “If I was in your kindergarten class, I think we would be best friends”. She responded, “If you were in my kindergarten class, I would play with you every single recess.”
This exchange transpired after what I considered to be some pretty heart-breaking moments for a mother. Moments that had me questioning whether she should stay in public school. In the past I had heard stories of mothers pulling their kids out of public school because of the way they were treated. First of all, I thought, buck up. One day your kid will be out in the real world and they will have to deal with people. But I also thought my child will never have to deal with that. Since she could talk she has made friends easily. In fact, on her “All about me” project the first week of school, she prided herself on her ability to make new friends.
After the first week, I asked her, “Do you have a best friend in your class?” Her answer was, “Garrett”. Huh? Garrett is not in your class and he is a year older than you…and he’s a boy, I thought. Keep your cool, mom. “Oh, ok. Well what about the girls in your class? What about Kapri?” “Kapri doesn’t like me anymore. She said she likes Shyloh better.” “Well you can have more than one friend, right? Tomorrow, why don’t you all play together?” “I tried, but they didn’t want to play with me.” :*(
Later in the week, she came home wearing a necklace with her name spelled out in little blocks. When I asked her where she got it and she told me, “Ali made it for me”, my heart swelled with pride that she had made a new friend who apparently cared enough about her to make her jewelry. Until a little later when she came home and I asked, “Who did you play with at recess today?” Wrong question. “No one.” “Oh? What about Ali?” “She decided she likes Shyloh better now too.” What?? Who is this Shyloh and why is she stealing all my daughter’s friends? Is she bribing them with candy?
Now no one needs to tell me that I need to stop asking her about who she’s playing with and who her friends are. Bad move, mom. I’m new at this. The last thing I want to do is put pressure on her to feel included. But she’s in kindergarten and shouldn’t all the kids the be nice to each other without judgment?
Well last night I received a message from her teacher asking me if I could stop by to discuss some concerns. My mind reeled all night long with thoughts of what could possibly be the problem, whether it related to the playground stories I’d been told for the last few weeks, and how the perfect little girl I see every day could be struggling enough to concern her teacher. Whether my anxiety was justified or not, I entered her classroom today with my heart pounding, feeling all eyes on me like I was being sent to the principals office and everyone knew why.
However, our conversation was helpful and relieved some of my worries, as she was just seeing my daughter through the eyes of a concerned parent. “Your daughter is very smart, succeeding very well academically,” she told me, “But she is a little…well…bossy.” Yes, I knew this about her. Apparently many of the kids have been turned off by her unwillingness to compromise and share. I understand this is common and even expected, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to hear that your child is feeling left out.
I’m struggling with the idea that THIS will be my life for possibly the next quarter century. Maybe longer? I hear that you actually worry about your children’s suffering long after they’ve left the nest…am I right? Besides staying up at night with sick kids, this has been my first glimpse into the reality that my child is a real human being who is on this Earth to learn and grow, and will suffer just like anyone else. How did I think I could prevent that? Maybe because my daughter is special, different from the norm, raised by parents who CARE. She is perfect.
She looks like an angel.
This is where it hits me that, as a parent, we don’t see our children the way the world sees them. And rightfully so. The world can be critical, cynical, selfish. And truthfully–regretfully–for several weeks I’ve had a resentful and even vindictive attitude towards these children (and maybe even their parents) who I believed have wronged my sweet, perfect daughter. That is until today, when I entered the classroom, sat down with a small group as a volunteer and listened to the way these innocent children talked about their excitement for lunch, recess, their Halloween costume, the fact that THEIR mom was “coming to volunteer soon too!” They feel no ill will towards me or my child. How was it possible that I was feeling that towards them? So to the members of Ms. B’s kindergarten class I say, I am SO sorry. And also, Thank You…for helping my daughter grow into the little girl/young woman/human being that I know she can be.
And to my sweet, fun loving, beautiful–albeit bossy–little angel…I LOVE you to Heaven and back.