Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Uninvited

Last night I was sitting on the couch, snuggling Goblin as she finished her before-bed bottle. She was almost asleep, and I was playing words with friends on my phone. Bumblebee was in the living room with me, chattering away as she does.

When measuring on a scale of “quiet as a mouse” to “talks non-stop” Bumblebee’s needle is as far to the right as it can go. Technically, she measures in at “continuous audible stream of consciousness.” Last night was no exception, and she was chattering away. I’m fairly certain she had to ask me twice if I had gotten any emails for her.

Momentarily confused (I was trying to spell “brevity” but it wouldn’t fit into any triple letter or word spots) I looked up and said, “What?”

“Did you get an email for me?” She asked.

I had not. I told her so and turned my head back to my game, but something made me stop and set the phone down. “Why? What kind of email?” I narrowed my eyes, wondering if she was expecting one from her teacher.

She shrugged, got quiet, and fiddled with her toenails. (She was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and gym shorts. In January. It was 65 degrees in the house. Freak.) It took her a second before she said, “Well, Jenny’s* birthday party invitations went out that way. I guess I wasn’t invited.”

“Oh.” I said, knowing the sting of not being included, and realizing that she is at the age where this painful drama with her friends begins. “Well. Maybe she could only invite a few people. It’s so hard to be able to include everyone.”

“But Mary overheard Jenny talking to Ruth and telling her the list. Pam, Marie, Carrie, Shelly, {and so on} are going. Oh and Abby too. Jenny doesn’t even really play with Abby.”

I looked at my daughter, and I saw the disappointment she felt in being left out. She was being strong, she wasn’t crying, but her chin was trembling a bit. I opened my mouth to give her some other excuse, desperately trying to make her feel better, but I just ended up saying, “Well, sweetie, it feels bad to be excluded from something fun like a party, and I’m sorry.”

She nodded and thought about that for a while, and asked if maybe she could invite Mary over for the night since she wasn’t invited either.

“If you keep your room clean.” I smiled.

This is a normal part of growing up. At this age, the kids will start to form their groups, and I know it’ll be a rocky few years for Bumblebee. Friendships will ebb and flow, groups will be formed and broken and formed again. She’ll come home sad with grievances (both real and imagined) about how people treated her.

Sigh. I’m not ready for this. Hollywood had a really hard time with the drama at this age. Perhaps it was worse for her because she moved to a new school in 4th grade, but it’s still something I’m not prepared for with Bumblebee. Boys are so much different than girls in this regard.

The Boy used to hang out with a couple of neighbor kids. They were inseparable for many years, but once they got into high school, they drifted apart without fanfare or drama. When asked about it, The Boy just shrugs and says they don't have much in common anymore.

It’s more complicated with pre-adolescent girls. There’s not much I can do to shield my daughter from this, other than buckle up, knowing it will be a bumpy ride. My own feelings were hurt last night as I looked at my little girl who was trying so hard to be strong and not let on about how hurt she was.

Her freckled face is just a little bit thinner nowadays; what little baby fat she had has left. It would be too generous to say that she’s beginning to develop curves, but they’ll be here soon enough. I wish I could keep her at the carefree age where she gets along with everybody and is the darling of the class, but that’s not realistic.

So I did what I could. I gave her a hug and told her I love her. What more was there to say?

*Not their real names, of course. :)

1 comment:

Karibean said...

Oh, I hate that this is part of life. Maybe you should call the school counselor and say that she was bullied. (True story-- i get calls like that all the time) I hate that kids have to go through this stuff, but you're right, it's part of growing up. And honestly, I think that so many kids would be in better spots if their parents just let them go through some of these tough things as they are supposed to, rather than rescuing them. (Even though, of course, rescuing would make us feel better too.) Life's tough lessons start early. I love what you told her. I'll be thinking of her!