This past weekend we went on a snow trip with the kids and some other families. There were 4 girls among the kids, from oldest to youngest: E, K, Abby, and N. (Not being all secretive; those who know them can figure out who they are, just don’t feel like typing.)
I haven’t spent a lot of time observing boy social interaction simply because my own boy is still a toddler, but watching the girls interact was fascinating, and honestly a bit disturbing, because all these social elements that you (or at least I) associate with older ages were already in play under the age of 6. I was really excited about K being on the trip, because she and A really play well together. But that changed when there were other girls in the mix. K was more interested in E, and that ended up kind of leaving A out of the loop. It’s not any girl’s fault; I don’t know if it’s universal, but kids seem to want to hang out with older kids. A did that herself on the trip. When she was in the car having lunch with just N at the snow park, they had a great play time. As soon as we got back to the house, she wanted to do whatever E and K were doing and forgot about N. And as she did, she got left out.
I don’t mean to overstate things – for most of the trip, the girls played together fine, both all together and in various subgroups. But I observed A getting left out enough times that it broke my heart. Nearly to tears, to be perfectly honest. I guess this is a taste of what it’s like to be the father of a daughter. Heart gets broken every time she gets hurt. I felt so sad.
I’m also not sure what to do about it. I’m not sure if Jieun shares my take on this, and I’ve said this before, but I’m against interfering with other kids’ behavior, telling them to be nice to your own. For one, it’s not my kid. Secondly, if I remember my childhood correctly, it simply doesn’t work – it might help with the immediate situation, but it makes things worse in the long run. Kids whose parents intervened on their behalf weren’t viewed well, at least among the kids I grew up with.
But I also want A to know, even at this age, that life isn’t all about her, that she can’t always get what she wants, including socially, and that she has to learn to deal with it herself. Either find other kids to play with or figure out if there’s anything she’s doing that’s making them not play with her and address it. Because the truth is, A doesn’t always help her social cause. She has a really hard time listening to others (adult or kid), she’s not particularly kind, and she’s overly insistent on her own way. Which are all universal qualities of kids, but she seems to be a little worse than average on these.
That said, and I’m obviously biased, but I think she’s the sweetest girl at heart, and it just makes me sad when kids don’t play with her, for whatever reason, even when it’s just a brief moment. It was somewhat a shock because we had just gotten back from Houston, where she had a wonderful time playing for days with her cousin E, primarily (in retrospect) because E is so kind to her. And she was playing increasingly well with her male cousin M also. Seeing them play together was a joy, and almost reason to move there (although I never actually will).