The Dance of Fives

Slice of Life Day 23:

I thank God my daughter seems to have been born with a wisdom that surpasses mine when it comes to some things.  She cried one day when I picked her up because she told her friend she didn't want to play with puzzles, and her friend walked away upset.  She didn't want her friend to be upset, but she didn't want to play puzzles either.  We talked a little about how to say "no" in a friendly way.  Relief washed over her little face when I told her, "It is never too late to talk to your friend, tomorrow you can let her know you are sorry you upset her."

On the flip side, she is on the other end of this situation this crazy, busy recital week.  She has a friend who acts like a best best friend at school and barely notices her, or even tells her "I won't play with you.", in other situations (like recital time) outside of school, and I know she finds it confusing.

Frankly, I am 42 and I don't understand this stuff, but I have come along way, after 11 years, from my new parent self that might have found solace in judgeing fault in the parent or the other child for this kind of behavior.  Now, after 11 years, I can apply a few bits of knowledge. . .

  1. First and foremost. . .(We need to stick together people!  This parenting stuff is hard!) That means I do not look at parents and wonder what they did wrong.  I know parenting is hard even when we/they do it right, or as right as we/they know how to do at any given moment.
  2. They are five (9, 11, 26. . .you get the idea), and are still learning. . . I have a few years on them and still have not figured it all out.
  3. I know that despite our best intentions, and worst faults our children have the inate ability to delightfully surprise us or shamelessly mortify us at any moment with actions or words that have nothing to do with anything we taught them.  
  4. Sometimes the answer is "no" even when it is a friend asking.

I really don't know how to help my daughter here, so I tell her lamely, "Why don't you go play with your other friends for now. . "

Silent in response, my girl, 5 squeezes my finger, tight, while she watches her friend run and laugh with another. She moved us around, pulled me by the finger for about fifteen minutes (maybe it was 5 but it felt like 15), trying to keep them in sight.  I know.  The way a mother knows. I know that she is secretly hoping to recapture that preshow excitement from the first night, the moment when two girls came together to hold hands, and the others all joined, a serpent of jumping, chanting and laughter. . . Together.  I could tell, last night she was baffled by the calm, and the coloring pages.  Tonight, if I could have read her thought bubble I know it would have said, "Isn't anyone excited?!  Let's laugh and squeal and chant!"  I know, tonight she is still in search of that jolt of energy.

At one point she got an opening to say hi to the little girl she had been bubbling about all the way to this event.  The two girls joined hands, mine jumped excitedly, the other not so much, her gaze trailed off and she was running again, my girl left standing.

But she didn't stand for long.  Somehow, from somewhere, my girl managed to find grace.  She tiptoed to her other friends, joined hands with those girls and smiled shyly for a picture. (far left)


Terje said...

Not interfering was probably the best way to go. You were there to listen to her and offer a finger to squeeze. I like the sweet photo you shared.

Princess Morag said...

Girls friendships in kindergarten seem to be a very complex and fickle kind of a thing to understand!! I've been at a blank as to what to say to my five year old most times she comes back with stories of upset. But like you said, I don't have it figured out either - it's probably hard being five.

jenbaum said...

Bahh! Why can't relationships just be simple, and loving, ALL the time?!?! Sadly, our sweet girls learn this all too early, and so do our boys, unfortunately. I will say thank you, for your daughter, for your willingness to support her through it, even in the moments you can't fix it. She is a lucky little girl!

Alan Wright said...

I once heard some sound words from a venerable older man who said, 'We should give our children all of what they need, some of what they want, and the desire to strive for the rest.' Your slice highlights the challenges inherent in parenting and the complexity of childhood friendships. Your insights display a wisdom that will serve you well as your daughter grows.

Elisa Waingort said...

Love this. So bittersweet learning how to make friends and realizing that it's harder than it should be. You're right it can sometimes take a lifetime to learn some of these lessons. I've got a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

I read this with interest as I'm struggling right along with my sweet little gal who is in a friendship triangle, which, for the most part, means she is left out. My heart breaks for her, yet I see her growing stronger, tiny bit by tiny bit. My hope for her is that she won't become jaded and bitter but rather find love and beauty in whatever moment she is placed.