Is My Child an Outcast?
This has been a tough fourth grade year for my Emma. She was so excited at the beginning of the year to be in class with her BFF. They had never been in class together before and had always wanted to. Their wish came true.
I, on the other hand, was apprehensive. This “BFF” that she has been friends with since she was two years old has always treated Emma poorly. She is more aggressive and bossy toward her, tends to not be fully truthful when faced with something she’s done to be hurtful and is hot and cold on whether she’s “in the mood” to include Emma in her games. To me, this is not what a best friend is all about.
The beginning of the year started out ok, but then slowly things started to change. A few mean statements, a few moments of exclusion… then Emma’s BFF was transported to the top of the cool girl hierarchy and Emma was painfully alone at the bottom. Now all the kids treat her that way.
The dynamics of the class are tough. There are only 8 girls and as I mentioned in a previous post, they are ALL very good at sports. They all love fashion and music. They make fun of anything they consider “babyish” like High School Musical or Hannah Montana. They watch what you wear and how often. They watch what you eat and make sure that if it’s something different or weird that the whole table knows about it. They fight among themselves frequently and treat one another poorly.
Emma doesn’t fit in with that group at all. Her BFF has done everything possible this year TO fit in, even if it means stepping on Emma in the process. Now the group of girls has formulated some sort of pact to not let Emma join them in any activity. First it was gym class. There is an even number of girls so when they have to partner up she always ends up with someone, but if they have to go in groups of three – that’s when no one will let her in. Then it was in class when they had to form groups to read a play aloud. No one would let her join their group and actually had to be forced by the teacher to let her in. Then yesterday it was in music. They were playing a game and the music teacher announced groups of four. So Emma went to the group of girls with three that included her BFF and was told she couldn’t join them by the “leader” of all the mean girls. Emma ended up in tears and the teacher did nothing to correct the mean girl behavior, instead she put Emma in an already formed group of four. She said to Emma at the end of class she was sorry, she knew how girls could be to each other.
It’s hard to believe in third grade Emma was given the award by their teacher as “Most Confidence.” Third grade had different girl drama. That year she had a friend in class with her that was very possessive and over-bearing. She wouldn’t let Emma play with other kids without a fight. She did everything possible to stand next to her in line and sit next to her at lunch. She also did things to tease her relentlessly, like hide her pencils, move her chair to the other side of the room, take her apple from her lunchbox and play catch with it… in other words it drove Emma crazy and we were so glad to be out of that dynamic.
But I think I would prefer possessiveness to exclusion any day. At least with possessiveness the problem is that you are liked “too much” instead of not liked at all.
Emma has no problem making friends. In fact she has a ton of girlfriends and has sleepovers and playdates every weekend. I keep reminding her that she has friends who treat her right, who care about her and who will always be there for her. It’s just that these friends are not in her class this year.
What can I do to help her through this? I sent a note to the teacher yesterday and informed her of all the recent episodes. I asked if she has noticed anything and also if she sees any reason that Emma is treated this way. I told her that we are just going to try our best to make it through the next two weeks without anymore tears and that next year she really needs to be in a class with a better dynamic. I named the worst perpetrators so that the teacher could make sure that she was not in class with them again. At this point I don’t care who her teacher is. All I care about is who is hopefully NOT in class with her. This includes the BFF who has not stuck up for her or tried in anyway shape or form to include her. In fact it was her who initially wouldn’t let her join in gym class back in December. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I really feel she is at the root of the problem. She established her dominance over her by letting the other kids see that even the BFF could exclude her and treat her poorly. The rest of the class is following her example.
Then when no one’s watching the BFF invites Emma for a sleepover.
Two weeks of school left…
An Anonymous Mom maintains a candid, uncensored, on-line journal of a typical middle class mom. She has two daughters, a part time professional job, a hard working husband and she volunteers a ton. According to her, “We are over-scheduled and under-financed… Like I said…typical!”