9.09.2010

P P P Poker Face P P Poker Face

I lie to my kids. Not all the time. But sometimes. When I need to. Because sometimes the truth is just too much to understand when you're seven years old. Sometimes the truth is just as hard to understand when you're thirty-seven years old.

I cried for my extremely sensitive seven year old tonight. I lied to my daughter so I didn't have to explain to her that girls can be catty. And sometimes, mean girls just suck.

Today, the little girl who Riley was paired up with to show her around the school, introduce her to the kids, to be her support buddy, told her at lunchtime that she should start making her own friends and play with them instead.

She was crushed.

I don't want to be that mom. The helicopter mom, who hovers over her child and tries to fix every little hurt feeling and problem. But it's hard when your daughter is crying and telling you that she really likes that little girl and doesn't understand why she doesn't like her back.

The reality is, we inflicted this transition on her. Again. We made her the new kid. Again. For the third time in three years.

The State Department does its best to ease families through the transition of moving to each overseas posting by providing the same ugly-as-sin Drexel furniture. They have sponsors. They have hail and farewell parties, coffees, and BBQs to meet the families at the new post.

Now that we're Stateside? Living outside of the DC area? We are on. our. own. Without any help to set up our home (that we have to find). Without support from a Community Liaison Officer. And right now, without Matt.

I cried for Riley today because I know how hard it is to be the new kid in town. To be the new mom in the neighborhood. Like her, I've done it three times in the past three years too. And it sucks. It's hard. Though I always try to put on a happy face and be as cheery as I can when meeting new people, I too get lonely. I wish I had a few good friends to play with regularly as well. I wish I was invited out for coffees. And over for Tupperware parties. And off to shop at Fashion Island. My loneliness is compounded because I don't have Matt here at night. He's not around to help heal the children's wounds. Or mine.

I really wanted to tell Riley, "Screw that little girl. You're too good for her anyway." Instead, I channeled my inner Lady Gaga and talked through what her buddy said to her and all the different possibilities of what she said could have meant. I gave her ideas of what she could say to her tomorrow (none of which include any four letter words, thankyouverymuch). And we talked about what to do if her buddy really meant what she said.

In the end I reminded her that it takes time to make friends, what a cool chickadee she is, and anyone who wants to be friends with her, will be. For just like me, her loyalty to her friends is fierce. Once she makes them, she holds onto them. Forever.

In the meantime I need to take my own advice. And pray that things happen sooner than later. For both of us. Because I need a new game. I suck at poker.

32 comments:

Mom24 said...

I'm so sorry. Just remember, not sure if it helps much or not, even if she had been there the past three years, she'd still have moments like this. Mean girls are always there to be mean about something.

My heart aches for you. (((hugs)))

Robin said...

Mean girls really suck. A lot.

Big hugs to both of you. I wish your dear friends in the computer were close enough for real life playdates too, but I also know that before you know it you'll all be finding your place again. It pretty much does suck in the meantime though, no doubt.

xox

Connie said...

Mean girls are mean. I hope that Riley finds friends that are more worthy of her loyalty, and soon. It is sad that the other girl is acting so clique-ish. I mean, seriously, at 7? But yea, we see it too. My 7yo daughter has been dealing with girls telling her that if she is friends with some other girl, she can't be their friend anymore. Or complaining that she spends more time with so-and-so, etc. Where do they learn that?? You are a great mom for not going off on the mean kid! :) and I hope you and the girls finish settling in, finding friends, etc soon... hang in there!

Christy said...

Oh Jill, tears came to my eyes reading this. Poor Riley. I'm so impressed with your restraint when discussing this with her. I wish I was there in CA to have a drink with you last night. I can't imagine how hard these moves are on all of you, and now especially without your rock next to you at night. UGH. For you - might I suggest that you look up your local chapter of the MOMS International club. I joined my local chapter, and that's how I found one of my three best friends in NJ. I had to attend lots of events - playdates, walks, runs, picnics, aquarium outings, etc, but I finally found one or two women with whom I really clicked. I no longer participate in the events, because I have my own small tribe, and that's all I need. It might help you find yours! As for your darling daughter - I'm sure she'll find hers too. I hope that girl is nicer today, or she finds a new buddy. Mean people are just the worst. Thinking of you and sending you all a GIANT hug.

www.shetalkslikejune.com said...

Transitions are hard and it is admirable how you seem to do it with more smiles than tears. Your children will make new friends at school sooner or later, its usually tougher for adults. I hope you find some fun new friends soon.

DelhiBound said...

I really think it's harder to make friends "in normal life" than it is when you've got an expat community (foreign service or NOT) surrounding you with "been there, done that" stories, with support, with experience, with the "i get it" smile and head nod.

Hang in there lovie!! Good advice to the little one ... and to yourself as well!

Anna See said...

Sending you love today. This sounds so hard! I love the restraint you showed. I have experienced the hot/cold of kids' friendships, and while I think the EASY thing to do is to tell her the little girl is mean and hateful,the reality is that in a week or two, the whole dynamic could change, so it's better to use restraint like you did instead.

I know you are missing Matt, and trying to find your way in a new situation. I wish you and I could go out for coffee today. I don't like coffee, but I sure like you!

xo

Emily said...

That is truly heartbreaking. For both of you. I really hope Riley will find friends who appreciate her, and you as well.
Life is hard enough without dealing with meany meanertons. I hope today will bring more smiles than tears.
Lots of loves, hugs, and finding (nice, amazing) friends, vibes your way.

Bfiles said...

Oh, this struck a chord with me, too. In fact, it's one of my big fears about the FS- doing this to the kids over and over again.

I'm so sorry this happened to Riley and know how much it hurts mom, too. (I don't have school aged kids yet, but is it worth just letting the school know that this child perhaps shouldn't be a new-kid welcomer, as she didn't even give Riley a full day of companionship?)

As someone else mentioned, you might also try Mothers and More, which is the group I joined when I moved to NY. You could find a playgroup for Grady which might really help.

Wish I could invite you over for coffee.

Jen said...

I don't know that it is any consolation, but being in/around DC isn't necessarily any easier. In fact, the adjustment from CA to VA has been much harder than I expected, particularly for Kelsey. She hasn't encountered Riley's scenario, but has yet to feel like she has a friend and is stressing each day that she won't have one by Halloween (her personal deadline). Hopefully that girl is the exception, not the rule?

OHmommy said...

Hugs.

Leah said...

Aw Jill! That's so hard. :-( You know, for what it's worth, I was the new girl a LOT when I was young and as difficult as it was at times, in retrospect I'm glad I had that experience. I think it made me more flexible and adaptable, stronger and braver and better at taking care of myself and rolling with the punches than I would have been without all those moves and all those changes. So while this is hard for your sweet sensitive little ones right now, remember that it's not all bad. That goes for how YOU are feeling as the new girl as well! Adjusting to a new place is hard, and lonely, but you are totally up for the challenge and will be a better person for it. And before you know it you'll be totally booked up and wishing you had more time to yourself, I promise!

jill said...

Poor kiddo. Our kids have been the newbies a few times and it was so hard. They made true friends in a few days but it is just so darn hard to watch. Sending lots of love.

Daniela Swider said...

Oh, that does really suck.

Nia (our daughter) had a few "mean girl experiences" as well. One girl asked Nia to give her $5 to be her friend. I was just floored when I heard that. And my poor girl wanted to be her friend so bad that she was asking me for the cash. Where do kids get this stuff? Then, of course, there were the girls who didn't want to be friends with our daughter because she didn't go to church or just because. It hurts so much to hear these stories from your kid but good for you for giving that mean little girl the benefit of the doubt (though I doubt she deserved it).

I sometimes wonder what makes a kid mean. Do they get it from their parents? I try to teach my girl to be nice to everyone. I just hope it sticks.

mosey said...

Although it's a different situation altogether, my daughter is an only and has had to cope with being on the outside a lot - and ohhhh it's hard. I think you handled it perfectly although my impulse would also have been to stomp all over the other girl.

We've had lots of conversations about how not everyone is going to be your friend and that we have to be okay with that. But when you're six or seven, it's slim consolation.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the perfect friends present themselves.

mosey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rach said...

my heart breaks for your little girl. I was always the ugly duckling outcast in school and know that kids can be so mean! They love to push thier boundaries and social norms at the expense of others feelings and it sucks to be on the short end of the straw. I hope that she makes some new friends soon and people realize what a cool friend she is! I hope that you make some new friends too- its hard to feel all alone and to make someplace feel like home without a support system!

Headless Mom said...

Hopefully she'll come home today with a gaggle of new friends. 7yo's usually manage to bounce back, but I sooooooo know what you mean. Hey! Do you have time sometime this month to get together? Maybe a Sat. or Sun. afternoon and I can bring my boys down to the beach?

LeesOnTheGo said...

You sure are a good mom, Jill. Tough stuff handled with finesse, honesty and such tenderness.

And for the record, I think all the girls not lining up to play with her at recess are missing out. Same goes for their mommies & potential coffee dates.

NKL

Issas Crazy World said...

Aw friend, I'm so sorry. For both of you. I know how hard this one is. I still haven't made friends here. It's been three years. It's so hard as an adult. Luckily, I know it's easier as a kid. I hope Riley makes a great friend really quick.

Hugs to you both.

Mean girls...sigh, she'll learn it soon. They exist. As long as she stands true to who she is, I'd bet she'll be okay.

Mommy, I'm Home said...

What a mean thing to have happen! Just makes me want to go shove that kid in the bushes for your Riley!

Seriously, why are little girls so mean to each other? Is it because their mothers are mean? I try to be nice, just for that very reason, but then I hear stuff like this and it makes me want to not be so nice. Know what I mean?

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I think it is so hard as a parent to watch our kids go thru things like this socially. (My daughter just turned 21 and it NEVER ends with girls - ugh!) Yes, we have to stay out of it and let them find their way, but it isn't easy to sit by and watch. I feel for you.

I have been going through a tough couple weeks, but school begins next week here. I would LOVE to get together for coffee or a lunch. Let me know what your schedule is like and we will set something up.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I think it is so hard as a parent to watch our kids go thru things like this socially. (My daughter just turned 21 and it NEVER ends with girls - ugh!) Yes, we have to stay out of it and let them find their way, but it isn't easy to sit by and watch. I feel for you.

I have been going through a tough couple weeks, but school begins next week here. I would LOVE to get together for coffee or a lunch. Let me know what your schedule is like and we will set something up.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I think it is so hard as a parent to watch our kids go thru things like this socially. (My daughter just turned 21 and it NEVER ends with girls - ugh!) Yes, we have to stay out of it and let them find their way, but it isn't easy to sit by and watch. I feel for you.

I have been going through a tough couple weeks, but school begins next week here. I would LOVE to get together for coffee or a lunch. Let me know what your schedule is like and we will set something up.

Sara said...

Jill, I teared up reading this post because I am fearing these moments with my daughter as she grows and as we move around the world forcing her to be the new kid over and over too. It's so hard to know if we are doing the right thing and when is the right time to just stop and settle in somewhere for good. Luckily you have a strong resilient beautiful daughter who has amazing stories to tell about her life overseas. I bet her little buddy can't say she's lived in India. Just wait for show and tell day.

l.b. said...

I've been in Riley's position alot..I think around 17 times. It doesn't get easier but sometimes you end up finding special people who accept you even though you are the new kid. It is definitely hard but when she grows up, she will be a better person for it. This, I know.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh Jill - I wish you were moving in HERE right now. I remember being the new girl and inviting new friends over to play and never getting a return invitation. And my heart bleeds for the the little I girl I was back then when I remember the birthday party that I wasn't invited to (by a girl who had previously been invited to my house of course).

It's so hard. But maybe that's what we have to go through, in order to have the right attitude and ability to shake off the slights. And to learn how to think "screw them - they're not good enough for me anyway."

Through our own insecurities we learn to look back and understand that it was "their" insecurities that were the root of the problem to begin with. That little girl probably felt like she was trying hard enough to make her own friends and fit in and to take on the responsibility of ANOTHER girl was overwhelming. The way she handled it? Not so great - but at least we can assume that her mean words were based in selfish insecurity and not intentional cruelty. One would hope....

Andrea said...

I know what you're going through! My kids have been in two homes, two states and two schools in the past year. I think you gave her the best advice a mom can. It's not going to be easy and there might be days of crying (and my heart breaks at the thought of a child enduring the cruelty of other kids).

You are also going to have to endure some of this for yourself too. It's been six months since we moved here and I haven't met a single person I'd really call a friend yet. I've met people but no one to call and say "let's go shopping or to the movies". And it sucks big time. (I am also an introvert which doesn't help. At All.)

Just keep doing what you are doing. You'll get her (and you) through it.

And if all else fails, chocolate always eases the pain! :)

Lisa said...

Oh Jill....that made my heart hurt for you & for Riley. Why are girls so dang mean? We were just having a VERY similar conversation with Julia last night. And it's so hard. You just want to protect them & keep them innocent, (and go beat up that little girl for being mean to your little girl) but instead have to help them be tough & handle the situation on their own. So sorry!

Heidi said...

You did exactly what I would do - run through all the possibilities of what you could say and then find different interpretations for what that girl said...just to take the sting out of it for your daughter's sake. Girls can be tough, but they change their minds a lot. So, who knows? Tomorrow or the week after the 'buddy' could change her tune. Parenting. It can be so hard sometimes. I can only imagine how hard it must be without your husband to bounce stuff off of.

I'm rambling here...

I hope you and your daughter have a good week. :)

I'll Take Mine... said...

I sympathize. We are going through a similar trouble. But with mean boys. It's hard to tell the kids to be nice while wanting to kick some a**.
Good luck.

CaraBee said...

What a horrible thing to happen on her first days in school. Perhaps that little girl didn't mean those words quite as harshly as they came out? I'm always the optimist.

I feel fairly confident in saying that Riley will find a group of friends that will be perfectly suited to her and will make her feel a part of rather than apart from the rest of the kids. Its soo hard, I know, to watch and hear about it happen to our children, but she will survive and maybe she'll come out of it a stronger person for it. Hugs to you both!

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