It's 7pm and I'm sitting outside "the Gym" watching a gymnastics halloween party. In order to make it here I had to set out at 5pm, so, I've already invested 2 hours on this. The party is 45 minutes long and it will take me another 40 minutes to get back home. That is nearly 4 hours invested on a pseudo- halloween party. You may be wondering why I'm doing this, on a Monday no less, and I've got one answer for you: mean girls.
Mean girls have broken into and monopolised my princesse's world. Mean girls tell her if she can play (today) and if she gets to eat alone. Most days she shrugs it off. Most days. She drops a hint here and there. Casually. Until the day she cried that is, but never a tear since then. At least the silence now is broken. She knows that I know and I know where she's at and we can talk about it.
Mean girls come to her parties and I get to hear them criticise her and her things, in my home. Mean girls don't invite her back, and everybody knows that a party with "just my family" is code for "sorry, you are not invited" because, apparently, inviting 9 girls (the total amount of girls in the class), is too much for most families.
I started off trying to help her get ahead in the game, but after more than a year I'e decided to stop. I realised I was playing their game, acting like an 8 year old myself. Also, there is little adults, at least non-parents, can do to influence other children's behaviour. So now we talk about it. Accept the fact that not everyone is going to like us, that not everyone is going to be nice and try to learn from it. But really, while I say "we" it is her that has to set out every morning to an uncertain day. Some days are good, other days are somewhat crushing. At least for me. I watch her head off secretly hoping that this experience will not break her. That it will not make her more socially dependent. That it will not make her more vulnerable to peer pressure and, best case scenario, that this will make her better, stronger and kinder.
Maybe next year we'll move on. Maybe we'll try our luck elsewhere to see if girls there are not so mean. I do wish this had not happened. I know it probably had to happen, but it could have happened later. It could have been a couple of difficult girls instead of a whole difficult group. But this is what we got. Which brings me back to the gymnastics party. This is her heaven. Here the girls are sweet and helpful. No one is left out. And here she transforms herself. She lets down her sassy-defensive facade and becomes a sweeter, quieter, softer version of herself. This is why I'm here and why I'm willing to invest 4 hours of my time on a monday. To give her a break from the struggle. To remind her that there is a world outside those 9 girls fighting for power.