Wednesday, May 23, 2007

clicking and spark

Otherwise known as two rights, a dumbassery, and a wrong.

Lately on the way to school M screeches my song, my song and as such I play Isobel by Bjork repeatedly, as it is the inspiration for her middle name. Today my lovely girl sang along and knew most of the words. Be still my heart, her twofullness singing Bjork.

Tonight we went out for family night (no, this isn't some long standing tradition, but rather something I made up, er, tonight) and M was screeching (she screeches a lot, yo) Me love family night, me love family night. I love that she loves everything even if it's brand new and fairly undefined. The wide open acceptance, the joyfulness of little things. I learn so much from just being around her.

And later as we were walking through the parking lot of a restaurant hand in hand, I turned and asked her if she wanted to see my sidekick. She said yes, so I reached behind her and lightly tapped her on the butt. She cracked up and turned around and said want to see my sidekick mommy? and then full on shin-kicked me. Hard. So totally my fault, right? But it was hysterical. We were hysterical. We were laughing so hard she did it again while I wasn't looking. Ouch.

But earlier, as I was hanging at M's daycare with her gaggle of friends crowded around in our usual morning routine (which includes multiple hugs and me oohing and ahhing over the content of their backpacks and purses because I have a thing for little girl backpacks and purses, not so much the container but with the things they put in them, and not so much that, but the reasons they chose that broken doll and the old piece of paper and that one sock fascinate me) when a boy I hadn't met before toddled over and as he did M promptly stated me no like him and her friends said me no like him either. Caught off guard as I was, I let them know that I Liked Him and that they were being Completely Uncool.

WTF, ladies? You are TWO. I was disheartened all day that the nastiness could start this early. I told J about it and at our Family Night (ahem, it sounds like a tradition already) we talked to her about it but I have no idea how much it mattered because she was too busy stuffing olives in her face to respond. But it made me sad. Like a emotional kick in the proverbial shin.

Is divisiveness so ingrained in human nature that it can't be helped, even in toddlers?

37 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

Oh honey...I feel your pain.

Patience did this last night at gymnastics. It's complicated, with her. We've been working on the "you don't have to like someone but you DO have to be nice always" thing for a long time.

Go ahead and slap me for saying this (I HATE it when people say it to me yet, here I am saying it), but brace yourself, just wait until 5.

Patience has been so shy, and nwo she has her little circle of best girlfriends and considers everyone else Unecessary.

They just don't undertand yet. But they will. Keep explaining. Keep modeling.

I have to hope...

:)

Christine said...

Oh, that is so sad. But maybe he did something to her, like bite or hit? Just a thought. I guess I also don't really want to believe that clicks and meanness already starts at two. Your girl sound slike a sweetie pie, maybe it is just a passing thing.

My girl puts the oddest things in her purses. Mostly old candy wrappers and broken pens. . .

NotSoSage said...

Oh this worries me. Mme L is so not our kid in that she is outgoing. I have this ridiculous fear that she's going to be a popular kid who treats others like this. Luckily, she is also warm and loving and welcoming, at her daycare they joke that she is the welcoming committee. I hope she keeps that spirit.

That would so break my heart. You did the right thing.

thailandchani said...

It's not human nature. It's encouraged. I'm glad you are taking the time to give her another view, to let her know another way of seeing things.



Peace,

~Chani

QT said...

Along with echoing the other comments, I have to ask if she really understands what she is saying vs. imitating the words or behavior of others (much like she did with you in the parking lot, which was HI-larious, BTW).

Obviously, you did the right thing in setting an example, I just wonder if this is just a normal part of discovering your identity (good & bad) at two?

Keep up that long standing Family Night tradition, mom!

slouching mom said...

And here it is, jen. Right here in your words.

The reason I am so glad I'm not raising girls (though you're right, their accessories and the contents of same are so damn cute).

Which is not to say that your girl isn't divine. She is.

But whether culturally encouraged or innately understood, girls know how to twist the knife emotionally in ways that boys don't.

I dare anyone to deny it.

crazymumma said...

Oh yaaaa. That phase. Who is in who is out. It starts far too young, but I know you and J will have a handle on it and M will come to do the right thing.

I think they learn about power and acceptance very early. By grade one, bigirl and many other kids in her class were running around with pads and pencils and defining who was 'in' the club du jour and who was 'out'. We nipped that in the bud pretty damn quick.

The rule in our house is everyone is included except bullies, and even they are given a second chance.

What I am saying here is that maybe there is a reason they do not like him. Might be interesting to find out why when she isn't hoovering down the olives....

Hope your shin feels better. Family night sounds nice.....

Beck said...

My oldest kid is the icy mean popular kid, to my horror and my secret amusement. Making children into civilized human beings is a long, long process - I honestly believe that we start off self-centered and mean but that we can learn goodness and mercy. I hope.

Kyla said...

It does start this early. Shockingly, it does. I've worked in daycare centers and I am always shocked when these 2 and 3 year old start modeling clique-ish junior high behaviors.

I mentioned this on my blog yesterday, but BubTar told a little boy that he didn't like him because he "only wanted friends who could see good without glasses". It about killed me.

All we can do is redirect and model the right things.

Denguy said...

I've always encouraged my daughter to "collect" friends at the park. I wanted her to ask everyone to join in and play. She mostly still does this.

Tabba said...

First, I want to say I totally got chills thinking of M singing to Bjork. And I had a brief flash of what it would be like if our two girls were friends in real life.

Second, family night sounds so utterly cool. Even if it is undefined and not a tradition yet. It sounds soooo good.

Third, being a preschool teacher for damn near ten years on & off, I've seen it time and again. Little girls.....starting with the whispering, the cliques. It starts so, so young. So, I would have to say yes. Things are so black and white in their eyes. Things either fit or they don't. There is no gray area at that age. Their social constructs are very well defined. It's just how they roll.
And then that's where we come in.....

liv said...

well, nothing makes you feel like a group like separating yourself from others. my kid is the kid outside of the group. he is impulsive and has marked dispraxia--he has trouble getting thoughts together. what's also vile is the casting off of the neurologically impaired child's mom. and what really sucks is that this is all at the allegedly peaceyist and grooviest school in town. the casting out goes from young to old. truly amazing.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Oh no, it starts that early? I think I may just have to lock Chicky in a closet until she's 35.

meno said...

It's so sad to see the first signs of this in your child. (I remember.) It might be a phase, so keep talking to her about it so she won't be this way as a teenager.

theflyingmum said...

Ben is 5, and I frequently hear "I don't like...." or "So and So is BAD! They are mean and I don't LIKE them!" And the very next day he has turned on a dime. Or sometimes even the same day, or a few minutes later. I don't know about 2 yr olds, that does seem young to start that. But I think at 2 you kind of go along with everyone else - unless it's your mom or dad telling you it's bed time or something. I believe it's just a phase, maybe even a developmental "milestone" type behavior, or maybe that boy is simply reprehensible.

Lawyer Mama said...

First of all, family night sounds like sooo much fun. I can just picture M hoovering up the olives.

Second, I had no idea it could start this young. My oldest is 2 1/2, but almost all the kids in his daycare age group are also boys. It just happened that way. So, I've never seen this pre-school girl dynamic.

Still, I have heard Hollis say things like "So & so is BAD." We do correct comments like that. I tend to think that it's a limitation of language rather than an actual belief that another child is bad, but it's still something we correct. We tell Hollis he doesn't have to like what someone does, but that it doesn't make them bad.

Penny. said...

Oee used to sing anything by The Cranberries, at age two.

Now.. she's all about Disney show tunes. I begrudingly play them.

Fortunetly, Oee has never not liked anyone, except a boy who once crawled up onto my lap (she was two) and she crawled, murderously, across the table, never losing eye-contact with him, in a manner which suggested the certain demise of him and he cried and scrambled away.

It's in their nature, I believe. Good thing we are here to nurture. And, good job, Jen!

Deezee said...

Back in my college days I worked for a spell at the university preschool. I was shocked at the cruelty of the 3 and 4 yr old girls towards each other, the "I won't be your friend if..." and such. I thought I was witnessing junior high. The young boys were way more oblivious. It made me so sad.

How, indeed, does it begin?

And family night, a tradition born. Made me laugh at how quickly it sounds historic.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My son is 5, my daughter almost 3, and I have not (yet?) seen the kind of deliberate exclusionary behavior you describe. I *have* seen little kids lash out in the moment, saying the meanest thing they can think to say ("i won't be your friend anymore") when they're hurt, but it's not the same at all. It is the verbal equivalent of hitting.

Bon said...

i never realized, before i was a parent, that the cruelty of children can cause so much pain to adults as well as to other kids. :)

a part of me thinks, from the daycare work i did long ago, that it is in a sense natural, but not because humans are innately cruel and exclusive. rather because we have to learn to handle our emotions...and instinctively not liking someone, or not liking what they do or how they sound or how they make you feel, IS pretty natural, especially when you're small and have few skills with which to process the emotions. and to take up what Slouching Mom said, i think given that girls are at least culturally gendered if not innately built to focus more overtly on emotion processing, we see it more overtly in them.

but it still breaks my heart that it will happen to O...both sides of it.

and - random tangent - i think i need to get him listening to some Bjork. though if we're going for middle name songs, maybe "Charlie Don't Surf"?

kristen said...

I smiled as I read this Jen, because I was SHOCKED when I saw the girl dynamic at work in such a young age! I thought I had until my girl was 8 or so, not 2 1/2 and crying because three is awkward, or some little one saying someone isn't her friend....blew my mind.

That said, we've always talked to our girl about being nice, not excluding others, etc. even when she was M's age and it's sunk in, she really isn't like that and never has been. And I have to believe it's because she heard about having kindness and a gentle heart, from an early age.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I tell my kids over and over again to BE KIND.

Kindness, pure and simple, has great power. Don't you think?

mcewen said...

'Is divisiveness so ingrained in human nature that it can't be helped, even in toddlers?'
I sincerely hope not - I think maybe it's just absorbed from their surroundings.
Best wishes

Catherine said...

As I watch my 10 month old, I frequently think of the day that the nasties will hit, and wonder which side of the upturned nose he'll be on....

I surfed over here for the first time today...nice to meet you! I love the quote on your blog...I'm reading the Bhagavad-Gita and Ghandi is next...

Momish said...

I feel your pain. As a regular rooter for the underdog, it hurts to see anyone singled out and shunned, especially at a young age. I think you made a difference though, speaking up in front of them all. I am sure M is just being her age and blurting out exactly what it is in her mind and heart at that moment. Tomorrow, he might be one of her favorites. They are fickle like that, these two year olds.

Keep up the good work, I doubt you have to worry about M's heart at all! It will be as big as yours if not bigger.

Cristi said...

I don't think divisiveness is so engrained in human nature. Rather, kids learn early to mimic the behaviors in their environment (obviously, not from your home but the domino effect of what is brought into the child care center). Just a hunch. Would be interesting to see what psycho/social research says.

On a completely different note, Bjork is amazing! Saw her concert outdoors at Coney Island a few years back and pushed my way to the front row. Do you like her new CD?

flutter said...

ooof. Damn. I hope she understands someday how much that can hurt. The shin and the words

Scribbit said...

That's so funny yet so painful.

In the shins? Ouch.

ewe are here said...

Sadly, this doesn't surprise me. They start so young...

Lucia said...

I love seeing glimpses of your very happy moments. Working in difficult situations as you do, it's good to see the pure laughter that you deserve to have in your life.

It's a frightening question, isn't it? Where that divisiveness comes from.

Hel said...

Maybe you should ask her why she does not like him. Maybe he is really not nice.

I love the way you and M are building a friendship. And her Bjork singing setting your heart beating. Sigh...

KC said...

I'm not sure there are real feelings behind those words at that age. Toddlers say things or fight and the next day are bff. But you are setting a great example for her. And me love family night too.

Nancy said...

I remember being completely shocked when my older daughter -- just shy of 3 -- started talking about friends excluding other friends in the sandbox of the day care. I discussed it with her teacher, who is getting an advanced degree in early childhood education, and she said the socialization really does happen early now with girls: the awareness of brand names, the cliquiness, the exclusionary behavior. I was a late bloomer (naive socially) and went through a lot of social turmoil over these things, so the idea of this happening in PRESCHOOL is very disturbing.

Since I have 2 girls I am doubly horrified, but resigned. Of course we're practicing the gospel of "everyone is your friend" at home, but I can't control what the other kids hear in their homes. Sigh.

Mad Hatter said...

Hi Jen,
I'm coming to this one late b/c I wanted to think about it. Did you see Mo-Wo's post last week about her daughter being refused a hug by a friend? It was deeply moving.

Anyway, I am so torn on this issue b/c I don't want kids to ever feel excluded but I don't know how much of a toddler's behaviour stems from cruelty and how much stems from emotional immaturity. My daughter is painfully, painfully shy. When kids at the park come near her, she cowers in my arms repeating "no, no, no, no." I want to diffuse the situation. I tell her that the other kids want love. I tell her that she does not need to be afraid. I speak kindly to the other children but the truth is my daughter is completely freaked out and I want to respect that and I want her to think that her shyness can find shelter in my arms and, in the end, it is an impossible situation to be put in. Chilren need to learn the complex road map of emotions and the only way to learn is by failing here and there.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree with Chani and say that at THIS AGE, it is human nature. Children of this age are still primarily behaving from pure instinct...like the green car instead of the orange one...don't like that sweater, but like that shirt. *shrug* Who knows, because we don't remember living like that anymore.

Doesn't mean that we can't talk to our children and let them know that outcasting someone else isn't nice just "because"...but don't expect it to make much of a difference right now...or following year.

Lil

The Holmes said...

I don't have any brilliant musings on whether or not it's human nature, though I wonder if, since many people seem to pick it up at such an early age, does it really matter if it's something from within or without, ie, nurture or nature? Either way, it seems somewhat inevitable, and something that we have to sort of unlearn.

Also wanted to say, I love that your little girl has her own song, that's so cool! Of course, if my little guy wants to sing like the inspiration for his name, he's gonna have to get into my Rollins Band and Black Flag albums.

Chaos Control said...

I feel your pain. The other day, when I was hanging out with my son at his daycare, I watched as he let go of my hand and walked over to a table of kids and asked on of them "do you want to be my friend?" to which she answered "no". He turned around, came back to me and looked broken hearted. I did all I could to hold back tears. He's three ...