Girls, girls girls. Doesn't the blog title give it away?
Today for Shabbat I had my three kids at home, and four "extra" kids-- my older son had a friend sleep over, my youngest son had a friend come for lunch and spend the afternoon, and my middle child, my daughter, had two girlfriends come for lunch and spend the rest of the day.
I am fascinated by children, by their actions, by their priorities, by their conversations and especially by the dynamics. Yes, I was once a kid (sometimes still behave like one, too) but I was different than my children. I mostly had neighborhood children to play with, because I was quite a loner at school for many years. L'havdil, thank G-d my children are outgoing, social, involved, and athletic.
I am more than pleased to watch how they interact with their friends because at times I think I am living vicariously through them. My daughter is quite the social butterfly and I find that since kindergarten, when she started attending her school, her social life has exceeded mine-- she's only in grade two, but her calendar is rather full.
But I watch these seven- and eight-year-old girls and wonder at some of their behaviors. They are fickle, they are catty, they are petulant, there are egocentric. And many of them turn out to be just plain mean!
Of course I want to protect A. from the meanness, the bullying that I see often runs rampant in its own way among socializing skills, but I'm also sometimes at a loss as to what to say, as I'm sure my mother was at a loss to say to me on those many times I'd come home crying because kids or girls "were mean to me." I had no sisters, I was a loner for many years, so I didn't really know for the earliest years what it meant to have girlfriends -- yes, I was friendly to everyone, but I was shy, and that held me back in many ways.
Yes, I should allow behaviors to develop or change over years, but I can foresee that several of my daughter's peers will be as mean and as catty in 10 - 15 years as they are today. Many of them take after their mothers, I suppose, so their mothers might not see anything wrong in their daughters' behaviors. But I see it, and oftentimes just have to keep my mouth shut about it, or complain to my husband, or just try to have my daughter keep different company.
When A. was in SK, I was already forewarned: "Her grade -- the girls in her grade -- are a tough bunch." But sadly, "forewarned" does not necessarily mean "forearmed"...