Thursday, May 01, 2008

cracks and fissures pt 2

So I've talked about her before, this little girl who breaks my heart but what I haven't talked about is how cruel she is to M, who worships her, talks about her incessantly, always setting aside little treasures to bring her, allowing her good days to rise and fall on this other girl's mood. She told me the other day she brings her presents so she likes me mama, I just want her to like me mama and why doesn't she like me mama i try so hard. And I saw myself and a thousand girls in her and I wanted to pull the car over on the freeway and cry because there will be a lifetime of this and I can't believe it starts so soon.

Little girls can be mean, hurting little girls even more so. Nearly every day M will tell me her latest heartache, ______ was mean to me today, the next day _______ spit on me (note to little girl, you do not spit on my kid.) I know this little girl is in pain, the sorrow hangs heavily on her face but she's learning, she's learning so soon the art of cruelty, the masterful way words can punish and wound. It's not her fault and yet she wounds my girl all the time and no matter how many times M and I have gone round and round, from the trying to remember not everyone feels the same way to sometimes we all have bad days to M, my baby girl, you simply do not deserve to be treated like this and there will come a point where you simply will have to stop trying and I'll be right here when you do.

And it wounds. It wounds because she's not yet four. It wounds because every day I leave her to defend herself and she can't quite figure out how to do that, how to let the nice girls matter as much as the one whose attention she wants the most. I've talked to the teachers, I've even talked to the little girl but words are small, they are little scraps of paper blowing around the windy playground sticking to the fence. They blow and swirl around my girl and yet every day she tries again, her wide open heart runs straight up to her and waits to see if she'll be turned away. She catches my eye in those moments, the ones I'm there to catch and I see her face fall. Today I went to her and gathered her in my arms, the other little girl watching us and while part of my wanted to gather them both my arms are not quite built for two.

40 comments:

Annie said...

It's hard isn't it? I was a painfully shy kid at school - and I fear this for my kids - Miss E is showing signs that she is a much more outgoing kid than I was, but she wears her heart on her sleeve, and hurts just like M does - when one particular kid in her class is downright mean. She targets Miss E even in my presence and looks for ways to get her into trouble with me!

You are a bigger woman than I - because I can't bring myself to want to wrap this kid in my arms - even fleetingly.

NotAMeanGirl said...

My heart aches for all 3 of you. No words can fix what is wrong unfortunately. the little girl in question... she needs some of what you give M. Be proud of the fact that M has it. :) I know M will.

flutter said...

Oh, M. Sweet thing.

I think a conversation needs to be had with that kid's parents. Spitting?

SO not ok

Janet said...

Why *does* it start so early? Given the glimpse you gave of the way that girl's mother speaks to her (or worse) it's not surprising that she treats others this way. Still. It's unacceptable and my heart is heavy for your little M., so open and friendly to a miniature mean girl.

maggie, dammit said...

Just read the linked post, and now this one. Did anything happen after the conversation with the director?

How it must cut that little girl to watch your daughter treated with such love and care by you. I'm so sickened that it's not a given that parents seek first to protect their babies, to love them up as much as they can.

It's painful, but you're seeing it for a reason. Both little girls are so lucky to have you.

Binky said...

M is a chip off your block, isn't she? Not everyone would keep trying. I think the tenacity both of you show is an amazing thing--but not an easy one.

Gwen said...

My oldest has a friend like that. She's almost 8 now and they've been friends for 4 years and it hasn't gotten better (no spitting, although the verbal wounds are just as bad). We talk and talk and talk. Oh, how we talk. And the frenemy in question has no excuse to be the raging little manipulative bitch she is, no damaged home life, no difficult existence. To make it more complicated, we're friends with the parents, who are not unaware of the issue but choose to deal with it differently than I would. To sum: jen, I feel your pain.

crazymumma said...

OH sweet M. As yet your heart is a bit too big and forgiving for this mean ole world.

You c'mon over to our house. We have simple rules. Everyone is included and we play nice and fair.

These are such tough lessons and it always amazes me how much power a single small hurting child can have over the others.

kristen said...

i think this has been the biggest eye-opener for me as a mama to a girl. i'm continually blown away that it all starts so young.

Tabba said...

oh this cuts straight to the heart...

Arwen said...

I think the little girl is acting out at your daughter because she is jealous of a relationship she sees but can't have. And honestly, if you were almost 4 and some girl who seemed no different than you but she gets 2 loving parents who don't scream, wouldn't you be jealous too? It doesn't make it right, don't misunderstand, it makes it more understandable though.

Her Grace said...

Oh Jen, I know, I know.

bgirl said...

my heart just cracked...so hard to watch what we can only watch and not direct.

Blog Antagonist said...

She is learning that behavior somewhere. I do not believe that unkindness in an inherent human trait.

Boys are not this way. I don't know why. When they argue, they punch each other and then they are best friends again. They don't scheme and plot and hold grudges.

When I hear about things such as what poor little M is going through, I feel that I would be very ill equipped to deal with raising a girl child.

urban-urchin said...

It is so heartbreaking when your tiny girl comes home from preschool to report the meanness of another equally tiny child. I like Kristen am blown away at how young it started (mine is 8 now) and how it still to this day throws her for six when someone is awful to her- and it amazes me how I find it within me not to go and kick that kids ass because that is what I really really want to do at the time. You are good to remember that the girl is hurting, why else would she lash out like that- but the spitting? hell no.

wheelsonthebus said...

Oh, girl. It is so hard because our job is to take care of our own children. Yet, I find myself thinking, every time someone is cruel to Z, who taught him that? Why is he acting this way? And so I acknowledge the unkindnesses and comfort my son, but I try so very, very hard to not be judgmental of the other children. And it is heartbreaking.

slouching mom said...

too much cruelty, too soon. this may be the only (the only!) reason i am thankful that i never had a baby girl.

Family Adventure said...

Boys can be mean, too, but girls are less overt, and that makes it harder to deal with. I hope M switches her focus to someone else soon...

Heidi

nomotherearth said...

That's so odd that I read two posts today about mean girls. I know exactly how M feels, and it really hurts.

Omaha Mama said...

Oh my goodness. Yes, yes, yes.
We started going through this last year, when my B was just 3. I remember being shocked about all of the hurts that such a little person could have. I was shielded from all of that until kindergarten as a child. I felt bad that my B had to go through it so young. Especiall a little girl that she just loved. Who was so rude and knew such mature things to say, like "Duh." By now she's gaining confidence and learning to ignore rude people (it took a year of talking about it) and to ask a teacher for help (instead of tattling) if someone is being mean.

Good luck. One thing that helped me is that it helped me teach my little girl how NOT to act, by her seeing it in others.

TZT said...

Ow, ow, ow...
You have such a kind heart. I'm glad you have the presence of mind to understand that the girl needs compassion. I am not sure that I would.

The preschool that I'm sending Dec to next year claims that one of the things they do is help kids learn how to handle rejection - they apparently focus on this, rather than admonishing the kids who do the rejecting. The more I think about it, the more I'm dying to know how... I need it too.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

It just breaks your heart, doesn't it? I hate watching kids be mean to each other, especially when one is trying so hard just to be friends. So sorry for M.

Little Monkies said...

I am *so* booking you by the hour when I go through this with babygirl. it makes me want to vomit thinking about it. sweet M...

Amy Y said...

I think words are so powerful... the sticks and stones saying doesn't make sense because bones heal and words leave scars that are often deeper. We all want so badly to be accepted and liked for who we are ~ even at 4.

It's so hard to be a mom ~ it's even harder to know how to be a good mom in this scenario.

I hope next year M finds herself in a classroom with a different set of girls ~ though I know there will always be one (or ten) like this ~ and she can find someone to love the beautiful lil thing that she is.

KC said...

This would break my heart. I don't want this to come.

But, she is growing stronger every day. And she has you.

Kyla said...

It is so sad, but it is something I saw all the time when I worked in daycare. It was part of the reason I wanted only boys. There is so much meanness and heartache with girls.

FENICLE said...

I had to catch up (story of my life). Anyways, I'm impressed with the way you are handling things. I think I would overreact and not be as calm. But I think you're modeling some excellent behavior for this little girl.

Bon said...

achy, hurty things indeed. the "i try so hard" broke my heart...as it must break yours.

i think all you can do is what you're doing, with grace.

carrie said...

Your empathy leaves me speechless.

Hugs to all of you.

Jocelyn said...

This is more than hard, more than heartbreaking. This is the essence of askew girlhood. I read this and am thrown back not only to my early youth...to my junior high...to my high school...but to what I see in the mirror everyday. Mostly, I'm over it. I get it now, intellectually. But those emotional wounds are often the most formative thing in a girl's life; you are right not to take it lightly.

Damn.

cce said...

The mean-girl crap starts so early. And it's before they can make sense of it or know better than to care. Come to think of it, do we, as humans ever learn how NOT to care what people think of us? Everyone wants to be loved. Sending a hug your M's way and your way too.

Ron Davison said...

This is the hardest part of parenting, isn't it? Watching your kids get treated poorly by other kids. My son is a shy 19 year old and still gets largely ignored in groups. And I don't know how to coach him to be someone different, in part because I am so not that way. I don't know the answer but I do think that hugs are better than answers.

Magpie said...

I hate the mean girls. It breaks my heart.

painted maypole said...

it's so sad to think of where this other little girl is surely learning the power of cruelty... how she is surely using it as her only defense, her only way of making herself feel important, but it's still heartbreaking for your own child...

QT said...

crap...it sucks, mama. M is a lover, and that is wonderful. You will have to be there to pick up the pieces for her.

mamatulip said...

Oh, god, it's so hard...

Christine said...

your heart is so big, hon. i love you for it.

you are a good, good mama.

Expatriate Chef said...

Oh, girls can be so cruel. So can any little one who is struggling. Poor M. We had a "friend" over to play who was just, really, awful to my kiddo. Growling at her and yelling, spent most of it in time out, and doing things that were just plain mean. When his mom took him home, the Kiddo said, "I don't like [name]."

M will also stand up for herself, I am sure of it. Sooner would be nice for her and you, tho.

cynematic said...

Queen Bees and Wannabes. No, not the icky movie made from the book (MEAN GIRLS--admirable effort, Tina Fey!), but the actual book. I think it needs to be a mandatory book club book, schools need to make it part of their anti-bullying programs, teachers need to be trained to intervene.

I've never understood relational violence between women...it's always been a mystery to me how some are so at ease and so adept at manipulating relationships and feelings, often cruelly. But there it is, the fly in the ointment of our sisterhood. There is hierarchy and there is power to be wielded and struggled over. How do we change that?

I have a son, a very tender and sweet boy. He'll face different challenges in confronting what masculinity means, but there's the same wish to protect his feelings from getting trampled by people he gives his power away to.

ms chica said...

Seeing the big picture isn't always an advantage is it?