Friday, January 09, 2009


The Boss was giddy in her perch behind me as I drove away from pre-school. "Mom, do you know what E. said?"

I looked in the rear view mirror to the pink-clad, pink-cheeked girl sitting in her gender-neutral car seat. Stray hairs emerged from under her hat, pressing against her forehead like trampled straw. My nose wrinkled at the sound of E.'s name. "No, honey. What did she say?"

"E. doesn't hate me anymore! She told me she LOVES me!"

The unbridled enthusiasm of The Boss's proclamation made my heart beat faster for a second, then sag in my chest. E. was one of the older children in The Boss's Montessori classroom, with at least 1.5 to 2 years on The Boss's 3. I've considered her a bully ever since The Boss told me that E. had pinched her twice--"Two times," The Boss said, holding her fingers in a V and counting them off, one by one--and made her cry. I know it's best to reserve judgment on the bully issue with children so young, but that would be the rational thing to do. My reaction to anyone hurting my child is much more primal than that.

"Oh," I said slowly, gearing up for the false enthusiasm that was the best The Boss was going to get out of me. "That's good. She loves you, huh?"

"Yup!" The Boss bounced in her seat a little, then leaned back with a contented sigh. When she tilted her head away and began to watch the world go by outside her window, it was my clue that she was done recounting her day for me. My own sigh was less contented. I maneuvered the truck through roads lined with gray snow and mailboxes that had stood up to plows, only to be knocked right down.

Fickle little E. It was bad enough that she'd hurt my little girl in the first place. But now she was invoking the feminine privilege of changing her mind. I shuddered at the thought of each morning in the new world of the schoolroom, where The Boss was forced to wonder how the arbitrary rays of E.'s sun would shine down on her that day. It also occurred to me that The Boss was learning from E.'s behavior that friendship and respect is as changeable as the New England weather.

In the truck on the way home from pre-school, I had visions of another mother, a year from now, wrinkling her own nose as her child recounted the story of The Boss's fickle affection. I thought of girls on the playground running and tagging in a vicious circle. Drumming my fingers with frustration against the steering wheel, I searched for the words to tell The Boss that it doesn't have to be like this. She doesn't have to be like that.


Christy said...

Meh. This is the time when I am glad that I have boys. Good for you as a mom---please try hard to raise your daughter to be strong and kind, but take no crap. Mean girls start early and keep practicing their whole lives.

Amy said...

I agree mean girls start early. Bella comes home daily with this, and has since preschool. Then, the other day,she had a conversation with a friend who was one day her friend then not. Bella told her that she was not going to be her friend anymore because the girl kept hurting her feelings. I am trying to help bella find a balance of kindess without giving it all away everything, and I think she is getting it.

Mom101 said...

This post reminds me why I miss your blog.

When Thalia came home telling me her best friend ("best friend") pulled her jacket hood and knocked her down I wanted to kill that kid. But now, they hug. So I let it go. But still. A mother never forgets...

Boz said...

Thank God I'll never have to deal with this problem, since my babies will never age. Yup, they'll be 10 months forever.

toyfoto said...

My fickle friend was an E., too.

Strange how it hadn't occurred to me that some other mother is lamenting the fickle little friend her daughter called S.

Thanks for reminding me.

Mrs. Chicken said...

This happens to The Poo all the time, as she loves everyone equally and often gets her feelings hurt when the adoration is not returned.

We have an E in our preschool class, too, and once I heard her make a very mean remark to my girl.

I've had a hard time harnessing my dislike for her since then.

Jerri Ann said...

Girls are Mean little B(**^^% I just had a long conversation about this not too long ago b/c my cousin got married. I did the photographs and directed. I was warned that there was step moms and step dads and that the grooms brother was bitter and all these people didn't mesh blah blah blah

Those men didn't give a rats arse about any of that, the women dreamed all this up because they had issues, the women were in brides area avoiding one another acting stupid, along with the brother's girlfriend. (The bride's area was the entire reception area and these women were acting crazy about having to all be in the same room together)

The men....the men were all hanging out in the groom's little (He had a little Sunday School Room) room laughing and telling jokes, playing around being goofy....

I was like, duhhhhh I should have seen that one are very different creatures...and women are just mean hateful b(**&^

Lauren said...

Why do I have a feeling you two will be having this conversation ten years from now when the Boss is 13 and an "E" is now a full blown teen girl with boobs? Girls will be girls. And girls suck. :) Except you. You don't suck. Thanks for the interesting coat.

Amanda said...

I remember loving the movie The Last Unicorn, but never understanding when the unicorn said her greatest sadness was in having "regret." I find that as I retrace the steps of my own childhood with my three daughters, it is regret that haunts me. Knowing what I cannot fix, what I cannot teach. This post so perfectly describes that ache.

I am so glad I clicked over to this post. Beautiful!