Where geography, wise men & the soul are tested

Motherhood

Motherhood

It’s been an odd few days. I’ve had some funny and sad conversations with Daughter Dear (DD). She is sharp, witty & observant, and I forget underneath all that, she’s a 9-year-old tween trying to make sense of her world as its boundaries expand. Here are a few snippets from yesterday…

Impromptu geography quiz on the walk to school…she got Chile, Morocco, the Dominican Republic….and then:

Me: Where is Papua New Guinea?
DD: You can’t start MAKING UP countries now!

Time to stop using the globe as an indoor football, methinks.

Later last night, apropos of nothing:

DD: You know the three wise men?

Me: Not personally, no. I’m not THAT old. But I know of their work.

DD: Yeah, if they were so wise (air quotes here), why didn’t they bring useful stuff, like a cot, and a midwife, and maybe some takeaway?

Me: Yes, why not indeed? But perhaps Mary & Joseph could have traded the gold, frankincense & myrrh for other goods.

DD: What, like on the black market?

Most people who haven’t met DD assume I make these stories up. I’m flattered, naturally. But no, I don’t. It is my life’s delight when people have a conversation with her for the first time, turn to me and say, “She’s REALLY like you say she is.” Yes, indeed. I quote her verbatim, because she usually checks if I’m misquoting her and therefore “losing the good stuff”.

However, all the thinking and intelligence in the world don’t seem to stand her in good stead when dealing with playground bullies. She is naturally a lover, and a believer in the good, so she just doesn’t see when people are being, for lack of a better term, little sh*ts. She went through a bout of being bullied by a girl two years ago, and DD’s take on the situation was this: “Her parents are getting a divorce, she’s had to move house, she’s sad and angry, so it’s OK”. We moved back to London a few months after this, and she’s been very happy at her new school. Or so I thought.

Recently, she’s begun to mention being excluded from certain chats, or playgroups, at recess. Ordinarily, this doesn’t worry me, because I know friendships & loyalties at this age are fluid and can change between lunch & tea. However, when probed further, she admits that the exclusions are bothering her because she doesn’t know what’s triggering them, and she is spending more time with her Breton Best Friend, daughter of my Breton Best Friend. However, if you’ve been a follower for a while, you know our besties are expats, and returning to France in a few months. Last night was the first tangible realisation of her impending loss; she sobbed in my arms and asked why we couldn’t house the bestie and keep her at school in London? Apart from breaking my heart, this set off alarm bells in my head. Is the exclusion worse than DD let on? Is this normal? Christ, again, no baseline to work with. My first real friendships date back to age 16, so I have no map, no compass to navigate these waters with her.

Right now, if I had all the gold, frankincense and myrrh in the world, I’d trade it for an answer, a solution. My very real concern is that she internalises this, and starts to think it’s about her, when I truly doubt it is. I fear that this will be the first chink in her armour, the insidious whittling away of her psyche.

Am I making a mountain of a molehill? Parents of all ages, any anecdotes or wisdom to share?

18 thoughts on “Where geography, wise men & the soul are tested

  1. Miranda says:

    I know how hard it can be when your children are being excluded. I had this happen with my 6 year old this past year with a group of boys at our church. Before and after services, they would not play with him and be mean to him, but I didn’t see it for a while because in front of me they were so nice to him. One day he just broke down crying and saying horrible things about himself. It seriously broke.my.heart. into little pieces. I talked with him about how this was in no way a reflection of who he was, and we prayed many days for those other boys. It has since gotten so much better. I do think that one of the Sunday School teacher also had something to do with it, as she gave a devotion about treating everyone nice and not singling out or leaving out anyone. It is so hard, but kids do go through these things. I don’t know where we should draw the line though, I am more a “sit back and let them figure it out” kind of parent, but when it is causing my baby so much pain I want to do something about it. Good luck to her and I truly hope it gets better!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. halfpint says:

    Perhaps your friends daughter can shed some light onto the situation? Must be confusing though if her first bully had ‘issues’ and she recognised them (which was very understanding). And now the new bullies don’t seem to have any family issues. I hope both of you can resolve it soon. Lovely blog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Petal and Mortar says:

      Thank you. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head re: her confusion. She knows that not everyone shows what they’re struggling with, so you have to be kind, but I think this situation has stretched her.

      Like

  3. hollie says:

    DD sounds like a delight! I loved her three wise men comment, although the first time I read it I thought it said “cat” not “cot,” and I’m thinking, “what in the hell good would a cat be to Mary at that time?” A cot makes so much more sense. She can be assured that if three wise women visited Mary and Joseph, they would have brought more practical items.
    I hope she can find some lasting best friends very soon. It sucks to be excluded and there probably is no reason for it. Girls are catty and ridiculous at that age and it sounds like DD is wise beyond their years. I read once that “boys are bullies, but girls can be terrorists.” Sure boys pick on each other, but girls go out of their way to make other girls miserable. I’m sure it won’t last, and she’ll be bouncing home in no time to tell you all about what a cool new friend she has made!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. joeyfullystated says:

    Half of my kids are brilliant introverts who I happen to find fascinating and amusing. The other two are bright, incredibly adaptable, and above all, extremely likable. For this reason, they are “teams” when they’re home, and it’s humbling to all of them.
    I’ve been through so much of this, I really should have an endurance award. It can be heartbreaking at times.
    The truth is, love and support from you is all she needs right now. In the next few years, she needs to find a peer to extend her sense of self and boost her confidence. (I’m saying that from an ed psych perspective and not a mommy one.) When she gets one really good friend she can trust and confide in, who gets her, who entertains her, all of you will find her life much more enriched. Yes, she’ll be excluded from things, but she (they) will also exclude others, probably in a much kinder way.
    I don’t care for playing devil’s advocate, but now and again a little humble bragging about how other children may not have a safe home life, or loving parents, can be eye-opening.
    DD is obviously fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Petal and Mortar says:

      I like her very much. She’s overcome so much already, I’m being selfish wanting her to have an easy run of things for a bit. We will keep loving her fiercely and fingers crossed she finds her ‘person’. Like Meredith and Christina. I like that thought! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lovetotrav says:

    As a teacher, many parents have asked me questions more about their child’s social well-being rather than their academic abilities. I would suggest a short talk or a just “put it out there” kind of conversation with her teacher as a starter. Teachers see a lot and if they know a parent has a concern, their eyes will be better focused on what might be going on.

    Liked by 1 person

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