“I’m going to give back the friendship bracelet.” Miss C’s blue eyes stared at me, wide, unblinking, no tears, just a matter of fact look that defied her age.
“Why have you decided that?” I asked, more as a nosy mum, than Captain Problem Solver.
“She’s not being a very good friend to me.” Her five-year-old mind was made up. Fish or cut bait.
“Alright,” I replied. Miss C was right, of course. The girl in her class was being a little snot. How dare she tell Miss C’s best friend that Miss C didn’t like her any more and that they were breaking up?
Chop that friendship bracelet into itty-bitty pieces and lay it on the liar’s pillow a la the horse’s head in The Godfather.
But I’ve learned in almost ten years of parenting, to let kid problems be kid problems. So I hold my tongue. Miss C said she would talk to her teacher if this kid continued to spew her manipulative venom. I believe her.
When an older boy told Miss C she was cute and that her friend was ugly. Miss C didn’t like how that made her friend feel, so she told her teacher, who gave the friend snuggles after lunch.
It is worth mentioning that Miss S was present for this interaction on the playground and when she was asked why she didn’t tell the boy leave them alone, Miss S replied, “What? Miss C is cute.” Sisters.
But while I’m watching the ins and outs of five-year-old friendship from the sidelines, I have empathy for the other girl. Her parents are going through a divorce. And she probably feels excluded, or threatened. And I hope that Miss C and her friend are being inclusive instead of exclusive. And that the teacher will step in if she notices it getting out of hand. And, and, and…
No more eye-for-an-eye, now it’s eye for rational multi-level analysis and internal reflection. Was my cherub’s halo crooked? Was she being kind? Was the other girl hangry when she tried to break up the band? It was lunchtime.
Modern parenting. Pftt. Listen to us. No, really listen: Are you in control of your body right now? You’re not being very safe. Make sure you’re making wise choices.
Surely beneath the serene faces of mothers uttering these phrases lies a thin-lipped serpent who itches to flick a Because I said so off their tongues.
Recently, I overheard a mum hiss to her three-year-old, “You’re really pissing me off right now.”
Her tone and her words literally made me stop typing as I cast a judgy ear in her direction. A pit formed in my stomach. I felt bad for her child.
But the truth was, only an hour before preschool pickup, I had been wrestling her son into his yellow rain pants. He’d been rolling somersaults into my shins, and almost kicked me in the face with his size eight socked feet. Even though he had a grin that would melt Olaf, if I were in a different decade, my response to his blatant defiance might have been a little less sunny, than, “What’s your favourite thing about going outside?”
As I turned my attention back to the emails in front of me, I wondered if I should offer chocolates to the parents to help regulate their dopamine levels upon pick up. Transitions are hard.
As for my five-year-old, who’s transitioning from prescribed mum playdates to seeking out friends without a safety net? The friendship bracelet is lost, so she can’t return it. And this week the girl’s been nicer. And I try not to look amused when Miss C says, “If she’s mean again, she will only have one chance left. After that…” She shrugs. And I love that friendship is so cut and dry right now. And I know this is only the beginning. And I hope after all our gentle words and talk of kindness Miss C’s generation is more evolved when it comes to loving each other. And, and, and…