Monday, June 11, 2007
Nice Kids Finish Last?
One of my more painful challenges as Ann progresses through the preschool years is seeing her navigate the murky social waters. It's tough to let go and worry about how she manages when I'm not there to help direct her environment and experiences.
I know that these years are fraught with ups and downs. One day two kids are best friends. The next day one of them doesn't want to be friends anymore. The next day they're friends, but another child has stepped in too, forming a tricky triangle. It doesn't seem like these patterns change much with time, but rather, become slightly more sophisticated versions of the same thing.
Like many kids, Ann thinks very deeply about what she sees and experiences. She's shy yet friendly, and a total chatterbox at home. She narrates a good deal of her inner thoughts when she feels comfortable. Her observations are often punctuated with a resounding, " . . . and that's how it goes!"
Over the past year at preschool, Ann has sporadically mentioned either hearing or sometimes being the brunt a few of the usual kiddie barbs. When Boy Y called her a baby at the start of the year, she matter-of-factly told me, "But he's wrong. I'm not a baby. My brother's still a baby, but I'm big!" Today Girl S told Ann that her picture was 'not beautiful' which had Ann a little down in the dumps. Thankfully these incidents haven't happened often. Ann's not an unpopular kid, but she's no queen bee either.
Ann is the product of two non-queen-bee types who are also sensitive. Chances are, there'll be a good share of hurts over the years. My report cards always said things along the lines of "good student but overly sensitive." And RaggedyDad asked to be changed from one first grade class to another because the teacher was too harsh with some of the other kids and it was too upsetting to him.
It's difficult to see Ann face the usual peer-meanness, because, though she certainly has her other faults, she's not the kind of child who tries to knowingly insult or hurt the feelings of another kid.
Though much of this is just typical preschool phase stuff, sadly, what happens a lot is that the rude kids turn into rude grown-ups who often do get their way. Maybe they're less liked for it, but they don't seem to mind, and in the shorter version of the long run, they even come out on top.
And while I'd rather be the mom of the nice kid, I'd rather her not be relegated to finishing last.