Fitting In

I had my first run-in recently with the dreaded "public school social scene" and it wasn't pretty.

Something happened yesterday that I never thought would happen.... well, at least not until my daughter was in middle school... or high school.... Anyway, Marissa came home from school yesterday very upset. It took almost two hours for her to finally talk to me about what was bothering her - and an argument with her brother over who could tickle whom was the catalyst for her opening up... this is how our conversation went -

(Jake not wanting to be tickled) - "No, sissy, no! Owwwwwweeee."
(Marissa) - Jakey doesn't want to play with me either, I'm having such a bad day."
(Me) - "Why do you feel you are having a bad day sweetpea?"
(Marissa) - "Nobody would play with me at recess today AGAIN and now my baby brother won't even play with me either. I'm having the worst day ever!"
(Me) - "Ummm...... why didn't you play with anyone at recess?"
(Marissa) - "I asked everybody and nobody wanted to play with me! I had to just sit by myself on the ground."
(Me) - Speechless from having ugly flashbacks of instances when I was picked on in school.... and by the fact that I cannot think of anything to say to help her feel better. :(

I never thought this would happen to Marissa so soon and I'm really perplexed as to how a little girl who has always been a social butterfly can feel like she doesn't fit in with her classmates. One of my theories is the "big fish, little pond / little fish, big pond" theory - she went from being the "leader" of her preschool class to feeling like she can't find her place amongst her new classmates. But how in the world do I explain this to her? And what can I say to her to help her cope with all of the instances this may happen in the future..... because I know very well that this will be something that happens again... whether it's tomorrow or ten years from now when she ends up in one of those oh-so-great (not) high school girlfriend spats. :( I think the key is for Marissa to feel confident to be herself, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to teach this life skill to a kindergartener.....

I did have an inkling that something was up one day when I was home with Jake (he had a fever) and we went for a little walk in the afternoon when he felt better. Marissa's class was actually outside for recess when we went past the school. She didn't see us, but I spotted her right away and my eyes followed her as she skipped all over the blacktop in-between the equipment. I expected her to be playing or talking to any of the kids at any moment... but just kept on skipping around all by herself. She would stop here and there to look around or to sit down, but she never once went over to socialize with her classmates. This really concerned me because I had never seen her do this before; but I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting and that she would be fine. But when she became so upset yesterday, it made me realize that this just might become a real issue that we will have to deal with fairly soon.

Maybe I am overreacting... maybe I am just a concerned mommy who's heart aches when her daughter is upset over friends and school.... I'm just like any mommy. I know what makes my daughter unique and wonderful and wonder why on earth others can't see these things for themselves. No matter what, I need to do some research on this to find some strategies to help her cope. I honestly never saw this coming so soon and feel like such an incompetent mom for not knowing what to do to help her through it.

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