growing up is hard to do
My second grader bursts through the door after getting off the bus, wrestling to break free of her backpack, coat, boots, gloves, etc. before she runs inside. I’m sure she desperately needs to use the bathroom, so I step aside to make way. Instead, she rushes straight to the phone, frantically scrolling through the caller id to find a friend’s number.
“What on earth are you doing?” I ask.
“I have to call Courtney,” she says, “quickly!”
I finally realize she’s trying to call this friend before she makes arrangements with someone else. It’s been coming up more often lately. A gaggle of second grade girls in our neighborhood are competing–in the ways girls do best–for playdates, bus seats, recess time, and other little ways. Sigh.
This is her only “free” day this week, so I forego my usual after school requirements of homework, piano practice, and chores to let her finish the call.
“Hi, this is K. Can Courtney play? . . . Oh, ok. Maybe next time.”
“What happened?” I ask.
“She’s already playing with Lora.”
Oh. Wow. I can feel her disappointment. We talk about other friends she can call, which she tries without success. I make her a snack, talk about the day, and try to make light of it. I suggest she try organizing a play date for tomorrow, so it won’t be such a rush. It doesn’t take.
My heart aches. How can this be starting so early? I want her to be carefree, to not let her happiness depend on the availability of others, to not care so much about nailing a playdate with this one girl, today. I’m really not too concerned about K’s ability to make friends, and these are friendly, compassionate girls, but I can just see the cliques and social dynamics, the intense desire to belong, already. Yikes. Junior high all over again. At seven.
What should I have said to help her understand that she can have fun without competing for friends? What should I have done? Make it an issue, or let it go?
She seems to be over it, so I let it go. I take advantage of the moment to rush to my laptop. I need to write a post to submit to that weekly carnival. I want to post it right when ”Mr. Linky” goes up so I can be listed early and not be forgotten in the crowd. If I do, more people will click on my link, and more people will visit my blog, and maybe they’ll write a comment or two. Because it’s really important to build up your readership if you’re going to be a “real” blogger, or journalist, or writer, or wherever this path is taking me. Right?
Then is hits me. Oh. Wow. Like daughter, like mother.
Maybe we all have a bit of growing up to do.