Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Critical Mom and the First Day of School

The Middle Child is the ultra-prepared one.  Schoolbag packed the night before.  Dressed in a nanosecond.  Out the door like a shot five minutes before his tram arrives.

The Oldest Child is told that he's got to be the responsible one . . .  a task he sometimes enjoys, and this time it has to do with taking an American exchange student around and translating for her.  She likes math, it turns out, which is most convenient since he does not, and as he translates the problems for her, he finds himself able to solve them.  A hint from her when he's stuck, and it's smooth sailing.

The Youngest Child suffers from her popularity.  The same problems of friends fighting over her have resurfaced with a somewhat more complicated plot (as befits the Tween years--she's now in fourth grade).  The latest troubles involve a potential club and some friendship bracelets that have been dangled by the child who always seems to have a schoolbag filled with apples of discord:  she'll hand out the friendship bracelets to those who will join the club.  Otherwise, they go back in the bag.   And no joking around!  The keeper of the friendship bracelets stalked off, agreeing to return only for the serious business of forming the club.  Which still has not been formed--my daughter suggested they have the bracelets without the club, and has yet to be forgiven by this  haughty child--the one who used to tell our little sweetie, "I'll give you til Tuesday to decide whether you're MY best friend or HER best friend." This girl has a curious hold on ours, who feels responsible. 
"I just don't want any fights," says ours.  And couldn't fall asleep last night until ten, something that never happens, but she says it has nothing to do with her friends, whom she does not care to discuss.
Sometimes people do fight, say I.
It helped when her teacher talked to her.  After her father, her brothers and I had all been told how wrong we were and how we did not understand the situation at all, her teacher told her the same things we had been saying, but now the situation improved.
The teacher told a story.  She, too, had once been eight years old.  She, too, had found herself very unhappy because a bunch of girls were mean to her.  She walked into a new school hoping to find a friend, and the girls dressed differently.  They pointed at her and made fun of her sweater and wouldn't let into their group anybody who dressed funny like her.
"And then I made a big mistake," she told our daughter, who was hanging on her every word.  "I thought, Mommy and Daddy are too busy--I won't bother them.  So I cried all night."
She told my daughter, "When your friend tells you to choose between being friends with her and being friends with your other friend, you say, No, you choose whether you want to be my friend and I'll choose my other friends."
Now that worked just fine for a while, but my daughter is now off to school with Ms. Apple of Discord.  Well.  That led to the Trojan War, but also to the Founding of Rome.  Looking on the bright side.


  1. ...I had a similar 'friend' situation when I was about 12, I had two friends I really liked, but they didn't like each other, and each told me, "Her or me!" When I told them I didn't want to choose between them, they weren't happy, but they did cool off after a little while, and things were okay.

    As for friendship bracelets, I've always thought that you'd make them yourself and exchange them, rather than just getting them. Does your little one know how to make them? Maybe she and her less-combative friends could have a fun time making them together for each other. :)

  2. OH, I wish! But thanks. I'll suggest it.