Tuesday, November 18, 2008

immune compromised and second grade girls

my head is full of snot, my throat is hurting like crazy, i slept like crap and i had to fly this morning. i'm in a soulless hotel room in oslo and bookbinder's design is out of my favorite purple binders (which i use for my monthly MPC printouts). not fun. i have the season's first cold and it's left me feeling miserable and sorry for myself. but i'm pounding vitamins (too little too late, perhaps), and drinking tons of orange juice. and i shall now attempt to leave the whining about my immune compromised/binderless state aside and proceed to regular blogging...

last evening, the parents of the girls in sabin's class were called to a meeting. apparently, earlier in the year, there were issues between some of the girls in the class. because girls will be girls. supposedly there were some who were requesting payment from some of the others if they wanted to play along at recess. not cool. we i have repeatedly interrogated sabin as to who it was and whether it had happened to her, but she was curiously silent on every occasion. i even asked her teacher about it at the parent-teacher conference last week. her teacher said that sabin was not part of those issues at all and that she was surely telling us the truth when she said she didn't know anything about it. that's a big relief.

it's also a relief to be told by the teacher, before we asked about this, that sabin is very popular and well-liked by her classmates. they clamor to arrange play with her during the recesses and at SFO (her after-school program). we are so happy about that. because popularity is an elusive and mysterious thing, but it's also pretty important to one's sense of well-being.

sabin's always been one to play with boys, all through her pre-school, her best friend was nicholas. through these early years of grade school, the ones she wants to invite to play on the weekends are named oliver and søren and mohammed (happy about that one, with all the integration issues you hear about). but lately, maria and laura have been calling more often. i'm personally not so keen on maria because she swears like sailor. and while i work with sailors and appreciate a good swear word myself now and then, it's not pretty coming from the mouth of a second grade girl. especially not at the frequency with which it happens with this particular girl. we might actually have to talk to her parents (they're politiken readers, i can tell, just by looking at them...which i think means that they won't take it very well, as they're no doubt wanting her to have the freedom to express herself without too many restrictions, which is surely how she became a foul-mouthed little hell child in the first place).

husband went to the meeting last night and i stayed home with sabin, who was a total crab. mondays are hard on her, she always comes home tired and out of sorts. husband said that they admitted that there wasn't really a problem anymore, things had gotten better. it was something to do with coming back from the summer holiday and getting into the swing again that had caused the problems and now things were fine. but still, the several recently-divorced moms in the group, starving for outside adult contact, rambled on and on about their kids and how hard it was getting them up and dressed in the morning, so the meeting lasted nearly two hours! husband only stayed 'til the end because there was cake. i'm really glad it wasn't me who had to go. we all know how i feel about those kind of meetings.

i've put a lot of thought into what it is about sabin that makes her popular. but popularity is elusive. i think she's popular in the way that the girl who won homecoming queen at my high school was popular...because she's nice. she treats people equally, she's not a snot, she doesn't show off (unless you count those times when she says, "who here has been to the philippines four times, raise your hand?" or "who here flew to the states by themselves last summer?"). she's good at getting games started, she never sits around, complaining she's bored (except at home on the weekends when she wants to annoy her mother)...she gets out paper and gets everyone drawing, or she gathers people to play cards or a board game. i think her preference for playing with boys has kept her out of that girl crapola and somehow made her more mysterious and appealing to the girls. whatever it is, we are grateful for it, because it surely has much more to do with how she inherently is as a person than anything we have done with her upbringing.

which brings me to this...why are girls so hard on each other? and how on earth does it start so early? why do we women do that to ourselves? i can remember my arch enemy all through school...my mom has said she used to pray that that family would move away from our small town...we made each other totally miserable. on purpose. and it was painful. and at the same time, i so loved that girl's two perfectly-placed chicken pock scars that were on her chin and her cheek. they were just so beautiful, i don't know why we just couldn't get along.

but now, my resolve not to whine about my besnotted head is fading fast, so i shall let you go.


Gwen said...

My daughter had a difficult start to the year, with mean girls coming after her, but it never escalated to the level of paying for recess time. That's crazy! Also, we never have meetings that end in cake. I'm a little jealous about that.

Re girl on girl hate: the psychologists will tell you it's because girls are socialized not to express anger. Then, when they feel that very natural human emotion, they don't know what to do with it. Rather than kick and scream and yell, like boys, they take it out on each other in subtle ways that they are difficult to pinpoint. Relational aggression, they call it. There's also some hypotheses about how femaleness makes the pie that much smaller, so add competition for scarce resources into that mix and you get Mean Girls.

Or so they say.

If you want to be horrified about what's coming for Sabin between teh ages of 11 and 14/15, read Odd Girl Out or Queen Bees and Wannabes. Good times!

d smith kaich jones said...

Well, first I hope you're feeling better.

Second, I must admit, as a child I never experienced anything like this. We were all just fine with each other. When I was in the 7th grade, my family moved from Texas to Arizona, and there I had my first, and really, almost only experience with meanness from girls. (It came as quite a shock, and to this day,I still have trust issues with people that are a direct result of this. I may post about it. LOL!) And that was a bigotry issue - I was from Texas, spoke funny, was poor, not pretty, so fair game. Again, I've never forgotten it. Hence the reactions I have to arrogance, bigotry against Southerners, or those who are seen to be on a lower social level. I react immediately.

This is also interesting in lieu of your recent posts about feminism, and the "girl" reaction to Sarah Palin - I'm not talking about the political reaction to her; I'm referring to the comments about her beauty pageant days, the way she walked, her make-up, her educational background (which was not used in a political context), the comments calling her Alaskan trailer park trash, etc. They were 'girl" reactions. Interesting.


Molly said...

How totally crap that you're feeling ill, and while away from home! I'm so sorry - I hope it clears up soon.
On Oprah (yes, Oprah) I once saw something about an American programme where they staged girls bullying another girl in a park to record the responses of people passing by. Only women stopped to tell off the 'bullies' which was interesting, but even more interesting was that when the bullies talked back, these adult women started acting like school-girls themselves, calling names and wagging their fingers indignantly etc. The theory was that almost every woman has experienced being bullied at some point as a child or young woman and that the hurt from that still lingers close to the surface for the rest of our lives.
I agree with Gwen's theory - sometimes it's probably healthier to express your rage, as boys are more likely to do.
Frieda is so strong-willed and assertive at the moment that my fear for her is that she'll be a bully!

tangobaby said...

Oh, my little julockha! I'm so sorry you're not feeling well.

For right now, I'm just going to send you happy thoughts and hope you feel better soon. I just returned from Babyville where little girls love and kiss and dance and tell stories, so I probably am not in a frame of mind yet to wonder what happens to them when they get older but I'll get back to you.

Feel better, honey.

mo said...

I wish I had an answer for you. We too have had some interesting girl dynamics at school. My daughter has always had a best friend who was a boy and plays all the time with her brother so the mean girl thing took us all by surprise last year in kindergarten. My only conclusion at this point is that the mean girls will just get meaner so I am hoping to arm my girl with enough confidence that she can walk away from these twits and not get sucked in. Even the other day we were at a party and Maya was in a dress (a rare occasion) and another (extremely bratty ringleader kid) was not. She walked right up to my girl when she got there, looked her up and down and said, "I don't like wearing dressy things" with a sneer on her face. (ironic since she is almost always in dresses) I was so proud because Maya just let it roll off her and didn't even really respond. How does a SIX YEAR OLD girl figure out how to be so bitchy at such a young age?
I have been reading Queen Bees and Wanna Bes and it is helping a bit.

julochka said...

gwen--thanks for the book ideas and the fact that this whole thing has a NAME! yikes! that's rather scary! but, at least we have the cake at the parents meetings and although those parents meetings can cause me to want to chew off my own arm to escape, at least there is willingness for dialogue about these things in sabin's class.

debi--my feelings on SP are TOTALLY this girl hate thing. it's residual from a lifetime of socialization. but that doesn't take away the fact that she really was shockingly unqualified for the post she was running for, even if my arguments were sometimes catty mean girl stuff.

mollly--as i see it, there's so much already there in the child that the best we can do is try to equip them to deal constructively with their natural tendencies. it's funny how oprah really does do good sometimes, isn't it? :-)

TB--i'm still sick and now have even more issues on top of my cold (see today's posting), so am in no frame of mind to figure out the answers to the questions i posed here...i just hope it continues to go well for sabin, whatever the reason for her popularity.

mo--i haven't really witnessed any mean girl stuff happening to sabin...i've seen her classmates asking her about why i was there, for example, and observed her simply not answering. but we have a different dynamic going because of sabin and me speaking english and her classmates speaking danish. there's an intimidation factor there that makes it different and it may be part of what works for sabin on the popularity front.

thank you all for your thoughts on this! as soon as the phlegm clears, i will devote a bit more thought (and reading) to this...