#SOL18 Friendship and Heartache in Preschool

"Mommy, I don't like school anymore," my five year old tells me this afternoon. She only has 4 days left until preschool graduation.

"How come?" I question.

"Because I lost my best friend. I don't have any friends now." 

After some more questions, it turns out that another classmate has created "a crew" and my daughter is not part of it. Her (former) best friend is on the crew now and she's been left behind. There is one other girl not on the crew and that is the only friend Megan thinks she has now. 

Megan decides to make art projects to give to all the classmates, even the ones that are excluding her. The girl who is also not on the crew deserves an extra special, sparkly art project for sticking by her, Megan has decided. 

I want to jump in and fix this for Megan, but I can't. I want to make those other children be more inclusive, more empathetic, kinder...but I can't. I want to shield her from meanness and hurt feelings but I can't. 

I tell her a good friend is one who sticks by your side. I tell her that she will make lots of new friends at camp and in preschool. I don't know how to explain why some girls leave other girls out. I don't know how to make her see that the best friends are the ones who always make room for others. 

When our children are babies, we try so hard to protect them from every speck of dirt they might try to eat, from every sharp corner of a coffee table, from every breakable object that could topple over onto them. When our children get older, we can't protect them from hurts of the heart, from friends who leave you to join a crew that you've been left out of. 

As Megan navigates the choppy waters of friendship, she will have to sail her own course and find her own way. She will have to find the crew that will be loyal and kind. I'm left to stand on the shore, helpless, but cheering her on nevertheless, always. 

Comments

  1. I love the imagery. I'm sure there will be shipwrecks along the way. May she always find a way to stay afloat.

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  2. The hardest part of being a parent is standing by and watching! And yes, keep on cheering her on!

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  3. There is not an easy way to watch your child struggle. Whether it is preschool or college, it feels the same. Listening to her struggle is the most important part. I also share my stories (when appropriate). This is how we model compassion and empathy. But giving them space to say things out loud that are hard is the biggest gift you can give her. You're teaching her she is not alone, that she always has a safe place to vent. We all need that, no matter our age.

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  4. Oh Kathleen, I'm sorry. It's so hard to watch them go through these growing pains. It's awful, isn't it?! This too shall pass... and then something else will take it's place. Your daughter is lucky to have such a thoughtful mom.

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  5. It is so, so hard to stand on the sidelines to let our kids navigate life. It's heartbreaking when they say they don't want to go back to school or tell us someone is being mean to them. BUT, there's a silver lining to this. She's coming to you. This is huge. Rather than keeping her feelings to herself, Megan is seeking you out as a source of comfort and strength. She knows she has you and that is, well, everything.

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