On Tuesday, Sophie came home with love letters from a classmate: rainbows, jewel-stickers, stick-figure-ish portraits of Sophie with hearts all over her and “I love U” written by a boy she actually hasn’t mentioned much before this week. It was incredibly sweet.
Then on Wednesday, Sophie came home with stories of death threats from another classmate. That may be overstating it. “If you don’t get off the swing right now, I’ll kill you.” “You have to sit still in the sand for the whole outdoor play-period, or else I’ll kill you.” I don’t think four year olds are capable of true death threats, but I do think things have escalated from the already-heartbreaking “I’m not your friend ever again” stage, and Sophie doesn’t know how to respond to this previously-close friend. Frankly, neither do I.
Just walk away, we tell Sophie. You don’t need to obey anyone but your teachers and parents, we tell her. You are too special to let yourself be treated that way — everyone is too special for that. But my sweet, obedient Soph sat still, in the sand, for the whole play-period.
I mentioned it to her teacher this morning, Apparently the “I’ll kill you” girl has been saying this recently to several people, and the teachers have asked all kids to report it immediately, because the teachers won’t tolerate this behavior. It makes me feel better to know that it isn’t just a personal spat with Sophie, the teachers already had noticed it, and already even talked to the girl’s parents.
But this isn’t the first time Sophie has let a friend bully her. How do I explain to a five-year-old (I keep wanting to write four-year-old) that some friendships need to fade away, sometimes, some friends need some space? I don’t think I understood that til my twenties. Maybe not even then.
Preschool social life is a roller-coaster. Sometimes, I naively wish I was a kid again — but not now.