“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.” – Simplicity Parenting
I peeked out the front window to check on them. I could see the girl–our 10-year-old neighbor–snap the stick in two, and the curly-haired girl–the one who just started coming around–run off, circle back, run off again. I could see my own daughter take a step back, look around, and scurry over to the porch to check on her sister.
It looked pretty typical, from the window.
But the story (I never dreamed there was a story) came spilling out at bedtime, as stories usually do. In the dark, my daughter whispered how her friend (ever the dramatist) had told the curly-haired girl to go away. They weren’t friends anymore. (Never mind they’d been playing in the front yard for an hour already.) “Friendship: broken!” she’d yelled, and snapped the stick, the one I’d seen. The curly-haired girl ran off and my daughter went sideways, unsure of what to do next.
I’d witnessed a girl fight and I didn’t even know it.
This childhood drama is nothing new. My kids have learned too many life lessons since the neighbors moved in three years ago.
We’ve talked about how people earn your trust, and how they lose it. We’ve talked about when to speak up and when to walk away. We’ve talked about filters for their words: are they true, kind, necessary?
These are lessons my kids need to learn, but it breaks my heart to watch them learn them.
I’ve fought off (most of) my mama bear instincts to storm out the front door and wag my finger at this girl. It would make me feel a lot better, sure. But I don’t think it would help.
I know that children need to learn to handle their own dramas. But I worry (I’ll admit it) about how soon, and to what extent? I want them to learn how to work through conflict, but I don’t want to hang them out to dry.
“Mom, I wish she was a better friend,” my daughter says, once she’s snugly tucked under her covers.
“I know it, babe,” I say.
“She reminds me of Josie Pye.”
I smile in the dark. “Or Nellie Olson.”
“Friendship is hard, Mom.”
“I know it is. It’s hard for grown-ups, too.”
I don’t know how to handle the girl drama.
I do know that my daughter needs my faith, not my anxiety.
She needs my love, not my fear.
She needs my help, but not too much.
Somedays I can navigate the tension; somedays, it feels like too much to ask.
For parents and non-parents: do you feel this tension, and how do you deal with it? Also, any and all tips for dealing with Girl Drama would be much appreciated.