Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Think She's Got It

I Think She's Got It -ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder
When your kids start deciphering for themselves that they don't want to play with the kids that aren't nice to them or other people, it's a beautiful thing.  All the years of making decisions on behalf of them and trying to coax them to speak, act, and behave in a way that is respectful to themselves and others, and also to expect thoughtful behavior from others, has paid off. 

Now I realize that the cards can fall either way, depending on the day, the child, and the circumstances.  However, the first time I heard my daughter say, "I don't care" when I extended an offer for a playdate with one of her friends, I realized that my child had taken a stand, even if just for one day, and I was proud.  She didn't go into detail, or try to explain what I already knew was transpiring, through witnessing interactions with her friend and my daughter or with her friend and other adults, including her own parents and teachers.  My kid didn't stoop to gossiping.  She just indicated that it didn't matter to her, which is code for, no thank you.

My eldest is a super social kid and if she had her choice, she would have playdates 7 days a week.  Super close friends, mild acquaintances, neighbors across the street, or new kids at school, she's a sucker for any social opportunity that presents itself.  But she's also a big believer in showing consideration for others.  She treats all people, her friends, her family, her teachers, the people she meets on the street, with kindness and compassion.  She feels most comfortable when the people around her do the same.  While she gives most kids the benefit of the doubt when they're having an off day, assuming that they, like she, sometimes forget to use their manners, she often will remind them of such.

I noticed over the past few weeks, though, that she had reached her limit with one little friend, and that the relationship was heading toward a hiatus.  I decided to take an inactive approach and not try to steer her in any specific direction as she shared with me her disappointment in her friend's words and actions, but just to listen to her process aloud the problem she was encountering with her friend.  We simply reviewed the issues with said friend and compiled a list together of her options.  She could a) ignore the disrespectful behavior and continue on with her friendship; b) mention to the friend that her behavior is rude to those around her and ask her to change the behavior; or c) walk away or disengage from the relationship.

I didn't think much else about the conversation, as I remember going through friendship drama myself as a girl, and know that these things ebb and flow:  today a friend, tomorrow a foe, and next week a bestie.  Additionally, I know that no story has simply one side.  My kiddo could be creating part of the problem as well.

Then recently my younger daughter, who likes to hang with the big dogs and who is traditionally tough as nails, even with kids twice her age, came crying to me, complaining that the same friend was making fun of her and being mean.  I didn't think much of it until I saw my older daughter's face.  The deadpan stare right through me said it all, after witnessing the interaction.

I still didn't know how it all would play out, as my older daughter, while loyal to the end of the earth, has a hard time with speaking up for herself, and even more of an issue with confrontation.  But when the invitation for a playdate days later was not acknowledged in the usual manner by my daughter, of running to get her shoes on, but instead not even glancing up for her craft project with her little sister, I knew a line had been drawn in the sand.  This was her way, just for today, just for this minute, to take control of a situation she's not pleased with.

Maybe tomorrow the girls will be back to being best buds.  Maybe not.  But for today, I think she's got the right idea!  Kudos, Sweet Girl.