You know the one. When one of my girls comes home to regale some wrong done to her on the playground I want to seem positive, unflappable, like there is no other option than to believe that it’s just how kids are, how they communicate, how they jockey for position in their worlds. I want to exude it will all be okay. You are awesome. If someone doesn’t want to play with you, move on and find another friend to play with. You have many. You are the kind of girl that has good friends, that draws good people to you.
Instead, I ache over it.
I wonder how to say all of this and hide the anguish on my face. In this whole bringing-up-baby experience I don’t think I totally suck at too many things but putting on the “mom” face is one of them. I just want to crumple into a ball holding my ill-affected child and close the doors to the world outside.
Really, I know I need to get a grip. But I cling on every word, I wonder what this other child really meant by excluding my daughter and I think about the social web of my child’s life as I know it to be and I wonder how often this happens. What don’t I know? What other playground side stepping do I not hear about at home?
You can’t protect them from everything. I know this. I roll it around in my head and I feel it deeply then I toss the whole concept on the heap of to-hell-with-it because I really, really want to. I want to protect them from girl triangles. I want to protect them from you can’t be our friend. I want to protect them from stories other kids tell her that they naïvely and innocently believe are true.
I tell my daughters these poor displays of friendship are not about them. Sometimes friends feel really safe with one other friend and they don’t want anyone else to play because then they don’t feel as safe. It’s not right but that’s why it happens. You have lots of other friends. Sometimes people tell you stories that aren’t true. They are practicing the limits of true and it stinks to find out they were teasing. Sometimes people aren’t kind. I’m so sorry about that.
But they see the look on my face. They know that I think it’s a big deal when they are wronged. I try to casually ask about them about their days but I’m always on alert for exclusion. My propensity to worry about them is huge. My awareness does not rest for a moment looking for all the landmines that may await them.
If this isn’t about them, as I tell my daughters repeatedly, then is it really about me? My projections? My own insecurities? My own dull rage at memories of kindergarten, elementary school? I’m not sure.
But I do know my daughters are on to me. I need to commandeer a poker face because I can see them building slowly the foundation that one day hold the weight of the walls they might erect between the goings on of their days and my furrowed brow.
But how, someone tell me how.