Emily got invited to her first sleepover. The party was Friday. Now, while she has no problem asking for help from me or Sam or any of the assorted grandparents, she hates inconveniencing other people. She'll just suffer in near silence, having her feelings and soul crushed. (She puts up with heinous behavior from other little girls- name calling, yelling, that general make-you-feel-bad-to-make-me-feel-better crap that girls do from the age of six until... how old are some of the bitches I deal with again?) For that specific reason, I kinda drilled it into her to go and talk to the mom if there was a problem and that she could call me whenever she needed, even if it was two in the morning.
I dropped her off and gave the mother of the birthday girl my home and cell numbers, for that just-in-case. Also? I wanted to puke. Hand to God, I'm not a clingy mom. There are times when the kids are visiting with their grandparents that it doesn't even occur to me to call them for a couple of days. But I just had images of Emily dealing with some of those satan-girls (for the record, not the birthday girl. Emily loves the birthday girl and several of the others. It's simply that there's only about seven girls in her whole class so they are constantly grouped together, plus there's an odd number of them, plus, for real, some of those girls are nasty.) and them being cruel and then cruel and then cruel some more.
To make it worse, I blame myself for her being this way because what are you supposed to teach your children? We are nice to everyone. We don't call names. If someone is being mean, ignore them. If there is a real problem, tell an adult, and they'll take care of it. Which is all complete BS. It's not how we handled bullies when we were kids and it's not how kids successfully handle bullies now. Words hurt, people can be jerks.
I don't want to turn her into a bitch. I don't want her to get in trouble for lashing out when someone is mean. At the same time, if I were her, I'd want to grind my fist into someone's face if they talked to me the way I've heard girls talk to each other. There's this fine line between standing up for one's self and becoming vicious. If it's hard for me to see, how can I expect an eight-year-old to walk it?
So I stop myself from giving her a list of names she can use when another girl is being mean. I stop myself from calling other little girls names that I want to call them. I stop myself from teaching her to lift her tiny little middle finger. I tell her that girls will be nasty her whole life (because it is true). I tell her that true friends don't make you feel bad (because it is true). I tell her that she doesn't have to be friends with someone who is mean, just to be friends with someone (because it is true). I tell her that putting up with someone being mean just encourages them to treat you like crap more- because, and this is the part I hate most, it is true. Yeah, honey, that lesson that I taught you at three? The bit where I said "be nice to everyone, even if they're not to you, because maybe they'll learn to be nice back"? Totally a lie. When your teacher tells you you're supposed to help others be good, encourage them to be quiet when they're supposed to be quiet, encourage them to put their stuff away at the right time because "we're all responsible for each other"- when your teacher tells you that, she's lying. You're not the police force of your class. She is. "Helping" others like that, it's not going to help you. You can't make other people be good enough for the whole class to get an ice cream treat. So long as you are good in class, baby, I'll give you that ice cream. You don't have to worry about being in charge of other kids. (And, folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg in what I see as problems with her teacher. But that's another rant.)
But, right, back to the party. I should never have said the "even at two in the morning" thing. I made my own bed with that one. That's when I was stumbling around, trying to find clothes to go pick up my baby that hadn't yet slept. To my odd relief, it wasn't because people had been mean (they had, but she was a trooper). Sleeping birthday girl had rolled over and was in Emily's space. And the television was on. She simply could not sleep in those conditions. (And she was scared and the only one awake and not in her own house.) Isn't that how most first sleepovers end?