Cliques redux

From 3rd grade to 5th grade, I had very few school friends.  Literally - 2. Unlike the Motherlode story from yesterday, no clique-moms were banning their daughters from being my friend.  It was authentic dislike - the children in my classes didn't want to be my friend.  I can recall how that felt to this day (suffice to say, it's been more than 30 years).

At the time, my parents assured me that having one good friend was worth more than lots of playmates.  They told me that the other children were jealous or otherwise not worth the heartache I was feeling.  As a parent, I am certain that their hearts were breaking every time I cried or railed.

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When I responded to the Motherlode inquiry yesterday, I assumed that the other Mom's were in the wrong and that the subject's daughter was an innocent victim. In reflection, neither is probably true.  And my suggestion to confront the Moms is probably not going to help the subject or her daughter. Even as children, we filter everything that happens to us through our interpretation of what's happening.  And we are hard-wired not to find fault with ourselves.  These two human conditions make it difficult to resolve a lot of interpersonal issues.

I loved school and loved to learn. And in 5th grade, hurt by the continued ostracization and teasing at school, I began having headaches that prevented my attending. Ultimately, I talked with a child psychologist about what was happening.  He helped the 10 year old me see that I was not completely innocent in this story - but that some of my behaviors were provoking the very response I hated. And we worked on what to do.

So - my more thoughtful answer to the Motherlode subject and her daughter is that the only person in the world anyone can change is herself. No one else. Her daughter is reacting to what is happening at school as a reflex - and an understandable one.  Bad things happen to people every day.  People are nasty to people every day.  We cannot control or prevent these events - but we can learn different interpretations and reactions.  We can change how we interact with our environment and the environment will change as a result.

Starting at the end of fifth grade and continuing to this very day, I became an ardent student of group dynamics.  I lacked natural instincts (obviously) so I developed conscious ones. I learned how to dial down (and dial up) my intense, strong personality. I never was the most popular kid in school, but I had good friends and still do.

As I parent my children, I see familiar personality traits.  I know that these traits will have ramifications in their social interactions - positive and negative.  All I can do is help my children become aware of their reactions and conscious in choosing how they want to respond to anything.

  • If you want a friend, be a friend. 
  • If you want to be loved, love first. Don't wait.
  • Don't try to change someone else - change yourself. 

If two girls are excluding you on the playground, find a way to have fun and play with someone else.  It's okay to feel sad but heartache and rejection aren't fatal and can be short-lived. Let go of the sadness because every day is a gift and how you experience it is up to you.