Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trouble in School


The school year started off well. She made a new friend, hung out with another girl that I had liked and was no longer in the same class as That Girl. You know, there's always one kid you don't want your kid to hang out with in school. We call ours That Girl.

Then it all came tumbling down.

First she was reading in class when she should have been working on math. Uh...what?! Then, today at recess she was playing with That Girl (Whom we've expressly told her to not play with since she is a Bad Influence.) and they missed the bell to return in to class. Then, allegedly, That Girl grabbed Caitlin by the hand and dragged her off into her classroom (They are in different classes this year, for which I am ever so grateful.), where they both hid under a desk and read books together.


Yes. Behavior most likely expected of kindergarteners, expressed in second graders.


Eventually Caitlin was led back to her own class and then Eric had a discussion with The Teacher after school about said behavior. I learned about it after they came home. Then followed the same discussion about how she needs to make good choices, That Girl is not a good friend to her, etc., blahdeblah etc. Then, I asked the key question: whatever happened to The New Nice Girl?

Oh. Her?

Turns out that TNNG told Caitlin she was mean when she played with That Girl.

Right on,
TNNG! It was the best possible outcome: someone other than us telling Caitlin that the other kids probably think she is a Bad Kid if she continually hangs out with That Girl. So once again, we have forbidden (I know, it's hopeless to do so, but I must try!) her to play with That Girl and have asked her to apologize to TNNG for being mean to her and try to play with her.

Why am I trying so hard? Well...let me tell you a little story about a girl named Grace.

A long time ago (About 29 years ago, if you must know!), I made the mistake of befriending a girl named Grace. My mother didn't interfere, even though she felt that Grace was Bad News, because she wanted me to learn for myself and possibly because she didn't know how bad it could get. Well, it got pretty bad. Apparently I used to be best friends with my older sister Dawn (Happy Birthday, Dawn! See how I worked that in there?) until Grace came along. It was long enough ago that I can't remember what was said or what was done to separate us, but it happened and my childish allegiances switched from my sister to my new "friend" and that was the end of our relationship for decades. Then, I made another best friend we'll call Dierdre (Because that's her name.). Dierdre was funny and nice and my folks approved of her and we had plenty of sleepovers (Funny, now that I think about it, I don't think I ever had a sleepover at Grace's house. Huh.) and hung out together.

This apparently upset Grace because she worked on breaking us up. I was unfamiliar with the practice of lying to your friend to keep them from being friends with others, so when she told me that DeeDee said whatever horrible thing she told me about, I believed her. I broke up with DeeDee. I was complicit in the stupidity - I totally admit it. Did I check in with Dierdre? No. I took Grace's word for it and by doing so, lost my best friend. Then, to make matters worse, at the end of 6th grade Dierdre and her family moved away.

I have never seen her since.

That is one of the things I regret the most in all my life. That I let someone else lie to me and separate me from my friend and that I never bothered to check in with said friend. Losing a friendship because you've grown apart is one thing; having your friendship ripped apart by a third party is awful. I stopped being friends with Grace right after that incident - it didn't hurt that we also went to different Junior High Schools (They call them "Middle Schools" out this-a-way.). Then, even though she still lived only two houses down, I never hung out with her again.

Have I told Caitlin this story? You bet! Have I told her what to look for in a good friend? Yes! Have I pointed out the difference between a good and a bad friend? Heck yeah!

Has it made a lick of difference? No. Nope. None.

Bloody hell!

So tell me: have you been in a similar situation with your kid and if so, what have you done about it? What can be done about it? I am certain the answer is what my friend Lee suggested to me: nothing. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't drown the sucker unless you are a crocodile (It was something rather like that, I'm sure.). However, there's the possibility that you can offer me additional words of wisdom and collective experience and either give me more ideas that will may work or will tell me about the gruesome experiences you've had with evil "friends" and make me feel better about my 29 year old mistake.

Unless you're Dierdre P. and you're reading this. In which case (How cool would that be?!): I'm so sorry! Leave a comment!


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Wisest thing (and saddest) that a friend ever told me: Your children do not want to learn from your mistakes.

It is so, so true. I'm sorry.

Red Flashlight said...

Stumped. But looking forward to reading the advice of others. Isn't it utterly pathetic that this sort of thing continues way into adulthood??

Pixi Rae said...

In this case, I'd say that while you can't punish (not the best word for what I mean...) her (well, ok, you could, but I don't think it would give you the results you want), you can, most certainly, teach her the consequences of her actions when she's friends with That Girl. And hope that (a) she comes to the conclusion that That Girl always seems to get her into trouble, or (b) that someone other than you points it out. *hugs*, in any case.

Solanaceae said...

I hate to say it but speaking as a daughter (not a mom yet) it seems to me the more forbidden something is, the more children (me not being an exception) tend to gravitate towards it. You can't pick your kids' friends but you can make them feel the consequences of choosing to be friends with that person.

I'm not a spanking/hitting advocate but I am not a talking/nagging advocate either. I believe when a child does something wrong there needs to be a tangible and age appropriate consequence (like maybe a weekend of grounding from fun stuff)that ends in an apology to the person/people affected (in this case TNNG but more importantly to the teachers of both classes who had to stop what they were doing with their entire classes to deal with C and That Girl).

Madge said...

this is so tough. we haven't run into this yet. is it less common in boys? I don't know. childhood is so hard! why didn't anyone tell us?

Scott said...

In my Universe you should totally be able to program the nanobots in your child to cause a minor headache whenever That Girl comes around.. minor aversion therapy for the win!

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