Two of my favorite blogs have recent posts about young kids’ social cruelty: here and here. My story isn’t as dramatic as Mom-101s or Girlinapartyhats, but I’ve been thinking about it lately because Sophie’s erstwhile best friend keeps on hurting Sophie’s overly-fragile feelings.
“M is coming over! M can jump on my bed!” Sophie says.
But when M arrives, M refuses to jump on the bed. She only wants to play with the tea-set. Without Sophie touching it. When Sophie insists on making pretend-tea alongside M (even resorting to a tearful tantrum to get herself included), M decides that now she only wants to throw some balls around — although everyone else is now eating dinner. “M, wanna eat?” Sophie keeps asking. But M won’t eat.
“I want my blankie,” M says.
“I want my blankie too!” Sophie declares. She gets two, then makes the blankies into a pillow-fort and invites M in. M refuses to join her. And so goes the whole play-date.
Lots of 2-year-olds are happy with parallel play, I know — but Sophie isn’t one of those kids, and she doesn’t understand it when someone comes over but won’t engage with her.
A few weeks ago, while walking to the park, M refused to hold Sophie’s hand. For days, Sophie kept telling me, “I wanna hold M’s hand.”
They used to be good friends. I thought it was a phase: M was tired, this day, or hungry, that day, or just moody, that time. But it’s been a couple months now of Sophie feeling spurned every time they get together.
M is a remarkably independent girl. Even as a baby, she refused to cuddle with her parents. Sophie is a remarkably sensitive girl.
It was easier when Sophie met her first truly-mean girl at the playground, two weeks ago. That bratty 3-year-old tried to keep Sophie off the slide, then pushed Sophie down the slide. Sophie spoke up for herself, loudly and clearly: “Don’t push me!” I was proud of her. Eventually, Sophie started playing with this girl — until I heard Sophie suddenly scream, and saw the other girl had a huge hunk of Sophie’s hair in her hand.
I told Sophie that what we do with mean girls is just walk away. We sat under a tree, eating our snack, while the mean girl looked on jealously. That one was relatively simple.
Soph’s best friend isn’t mean, like that, just independent. And I’m wondering how many more playdates I should arrange, when it keeps on hurting Sophie’s feelings.