A Long Post on 3 Year Olds and Friendship
by Stacie Bloomfield
"Violet, where did your headband go?" I asked my 3 year old when I picked her up from Kid's Day Out. "Oh mommy, the older boy in the class said he didn't like my hair, so I took it out". Then Christopher and the other girl told me to stop talking so much. And the other girl told me she didn't like me and didn't want to be my friend." Then we went and got a lollipop and instantly Violet was okay again.
But as Violet was talking to me about her day, my heart broke a little bit. She is this little person who now has to deal with the ins and outs of relationships. Making friends, keeping them. Dealing with criticism. Bullies. As a mom, I wanted to just to scoop her up, protect her, and show her that she is loved. But I cannot be with her every minute of every day.
As Violet was talking, I had these flashbacks to when I was a child. I was bullied. Quite a bit. I was tall, had buck teeth. Was called "Bugs Bunny" and was often called fat by the other kids in the class. I remember countless birthday parties that I wasn't invited to. In the 5th grade, my "best friend" toilet papered my house (which my poor parents had to clean up) and then called me afterwards to let me know that this was her way of saying she didn't want to be friends anymore. "Eiffel Tower". "Golly Green Giant". A few of the many names I was given during elementary school. I always have had trouble making and keeping friends. And have never been very good at moving on past the sudden shift in a relationship.
Sometimes, being a kid is tough. And for my Violet, who, like me, is as emotional as they come, all I can do is simply pray for her to grow to be a more strong and confident girl. To be able to brush off criticism and the meanness that simply exists in the world. My husband is so good at simply being himself and not letting other people's opinions get to him. I really am hoping that Violet has that strength of character, and that I can figure out how to cultivate that trait in her.
And, I truly hope that she will be fortunate enough to make and keep good friends. The kind of lifelong friends who grow and change with you. My dad has these types of friends. I remember as a teenager, almost every weekend, my father was on the phone checking in with his 2 best friends from grade school. Seriously they talked almost every week. Dad, Alex, and CW. They were thick as thieves as children and had somehow mastered the fine art of maintaining friendship, even when several states, different jobs, and different paths in life had separated them.
I was always envious of my dad in that regard.
I've been in and out of a funk for months now. A very important and longterm friendship ended abruplty. It happened so quickly, with no closure, and all of the sudden I feel like I am in the 5th grade again. It wouldn't be fair to say that this situation is the whole source of my "funk". And the more I reflect on the whole situation, the more I can see some of the mistakes I made (hindsight is 20/20). However, I feel this enormous sense sense of loss. This person doesn't want to be a part of my life anymore. They don't want to know about my day, my kids, my struggles, my successes. and more importantly, they don't want me to be a part of their life anymore. I guess I am still grieving the whole ordeal. And wishing that it could be fixed.
Seriously, the older I get, the more I realize that it doesn't get any easier, the whole relationship/friendship part of life.
As for Violet, I find myself crippled with the fear of her having to face rejection. If I could I would pull a John Travolta in Bubble Boy and just keep her safe and contained from all of the pain in the world. But being a parent is about teaching your kids how to be, and letting them go out into the world, learn, and grow on their own. Comfort them when they are down, and celebrate with them when they succeed.
My prayer for my children this morning is that they will be surrounded by great, strong, forgiving, encouraging, loving, uplifting friends. And that they will be lifelong friends.
Sorry for the long post. Just something I have been thinking about for a while.