Mean girls, chapter 1. 1 of a million, no doubt.

“Alice* told me she didn’t want to play with me today. She only wanted to play with a big kid. So she said GO AWAY.”

My heart sank as Thalia described how her “best friend” in school left her alone on the playground.

Oh God…they’re three and-a-half. Does the mean girl thing have to start now? Now? Can’t Thalia get a brief respite? Like say…til she’s 37? Maybe 36. I’m not inflexible.

“And so what did you do?”

“I was sad.”

And with that she made her best ever pouty face, with her lips thrust out and the corners turned down, and her head lowered to an angle that achieved perfect dramatic effect.

“But then,” Thalia brightened, “I played with Gracie!”

Gracie being the other teeny girl in the class.

I understand they’re just very young kids, still trying to figure out social norms and etiquette and the rules of friendship and kindness. I even like Alice. And yet it doesn’t stop me from wanting to storm the school yard with a pair of nunchucks, sussing out the mean girls in training, and going ninja on some preschool ass.

I’ve got a kind, sensitive, beautifully empathetic daughter who I just know is going to have her heart stomped on with frequency. The me that’s read the books says Nothing wrong with toughening her up a bit and teaching her how to handle adversity. It’s good for her! Everyone needs those lessons in life. Besides, I’d rather raise a kind girl than a mean girl, even if it means a little heartache.

But the me that’s actually her mom wants to lock her away in a happy palace in the sky surrounded only by doting grandparents and declawed cats and care bears and whoever else will promise never ever to break such a lovely spirit.

Who would not want to play with a girl like this every minute of every day?

*Not the kids’ real names. Ooooobviously.

{42 Comments}

42 thoughts on “Mean girls, chapter 1. 1 of a million, no doubt.”

  1. hubby is scared for the other kids around my daughter, b/c he thinks i will seriously stalk them out and yell at them……oh i just might….nobody is messing with my girls.

  2. When my daughter was in preschool (a million years ago), teachers acknowledged that it’s OK to play with different friends. They taught kids to say things like, “I’m playing with Kate now, but we can play tomorrow.”I still don’t know how I feel about that.

  3. You are reading: Mom-101. Sponsored by Self Promoting Grandma.We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

  4. “Tony said… You are reading: Mom-101. Sponsored by Self Promoting Grandma.We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.”lol! didn’t you JUST write about self promotion via blogs the other day… ironic and sick!but really, in RE to the post i think the ninja mom/dad comes out in all of us when our children are so very innocent [and endearing like lil’ thalia], and we sense their spirits being threatened. it makes you empathize, [and often irritated at the least as you grip the nunchucks in your purse] for the sprouts in our lives who slowly learn how cruel reality can be at times… even if they are only 3 1/2.

  5. You have described with great accuracy my daughter and a few of her recent experiences.Kills me.She is almost five. It is just totally unfair that she should ever, much less at ONLY FIVE, have to have these feelings.Deep breath.

  6. I have a 3 year old. We ran into the same thing last week! She has always loved daycare, but she cried most every day that we dropped her off last week. I spoke with her teacher and found out that another girl would not let her play with her. I also wanted to “go ninja on some preshcool ass” and the mom to boot. It broke my heart that she is already dealing with how mean little girls can be!

  7. My biggest fear is that my daughter will be a mean girl. She’s 4, and she can be kind of bossy and is not always very kind. Which I get, she doesn’t really understand social graces yet. It will hopefully get better. Still, I wonder if the mean girls’ parents know they’re mean, and how do you avoid that outcome?

  8. My daughter is four. When she started pre-school, about halfway through the year, some punk three year old (punks start early in my area of snoburbia, I suppose) turned to her in the parking lot and said that my daughter was not her friend. My daughter repeated that over and over. It crushed me, and I wanted to drop kick the kid. (Note to authorities: I did not take any actions, thank you.)

  9. Isn’t there a Grumpy bear or Mean bear?Hey, you could have pushed me over with a feather the day a teacher told me about some Kindergarten girls that made fun of other girls because of their clothes. I blame the parents buying their 8th graders Coach purses and high heels. But what do I know, I have been telling my girl to ignore those girls and go about her business. Didn’t work when I was kid, but what else do you tell them to do? Say you suck and run screaming, like a fool?

  10. I wonder why, biologically (or sociologically?), we do this to each other. What is the need we have for pecking orders, hierarchy and exclusion?That’s your anthropology question of the day. Go to it.

  11. Ah yes. This is exactly when it starts Sage is also 3 1/2 and reported yesterday that a girl said “You’re not my friend.” What we’ve worked on is what to do when that happens: You say “That’s not nice. I’ll go play with another friend.” Or whatever. Arming them with something to say that won’t get them kicked out (instead of you know, like, Yeah? Well you’re ugly and you smell like boogers!)has helped with both my son and daughter. By the way, pre-k is BRUTAL! Those girls are total Queen Bees!

  12. My oldest (boy, all boys) was the mildest kid ever, but he had the best instincts when it came to this. One day he had a friend over and they were upstairs playing (they were 4) and he came down. I asked why he wasn’t with his friend and he said, oh he said he didn’t want to be my friend anymore, so I decided to play down here. Lalala, totally unfazed. The other kid came down a few minutes later perturbed that his meanness hadn’t worked. Ha. Same son used to look rather kindly at kids saying mean stuff and say things like, wow, he must be having a bad day. Must have gotten it from his dad, because those sorts of things always made me want to hold a grudge for years. Here’s a deep thought though. Kids come home and say when someone was mean to them. Kids don’t come home and announce that they were mean and told others to go away or made them cry. Second and third sons? More like mom, I’m afraid, where we had to actively teach them the “ignoring” and the bad day, not your problem stuff.

  13. Those mean little kids grow up to be Vicki and Tamra on Real Housewives, only often with cheaper heels. Tough stuff, no doubt. Belly just told me about an incident that near broke my heart into a million pieces b/c it didn’t involve just words, it involved real pain.

  14. Ya know. At the end of the day you have to just grab them and hold them tight, let all the love you have for them pour all over them. Then you kiss them the next morning and send them out into the world again with all that love wrapped snuggly inside. I had a tough childhood and would probably not be here today if I hadn’t had a wonderful family at home. Sadly there’s nothing you can do about “those other people’s kids” other then telling your own to learn from them on how “not to treat others”.DW GoldenSoar with Fairies in a new young adult novel: < HREF="http://www.eloquentbooks.com/PurpleButterflies.html" REL="nofollow">Purple Butterflies<>

  15. Girls are nasty creatures by nature. It starts early and keeps going for….well….forever! You know what though? Your wee girl is adorable! My son would happily add her to his little group of friends…all of whom are girls!st

  16. We’ve been lucky with Maya, but Nata’s had a few run-ins at pre-school this year. Girls are mean. My kid, is just so freaking nice to everyone and luckily she’s easy going enough not to let it bother her. But it sucks.I remember a few mean girls when I was little, although 3 seems young. All we can do is try and teach our girls not to be mean. At least this is what I tell myself. My kids, would totally play with yours. 🙂

  17. You know, I really think the whole school thing fosters this stuff. We toss them in these big group settings that are sort unnatural and they go all Lord of the Flies on us.Wish we could kill that dynamic – my little ones have the same issue. In elementary school they have a counseler that helps defang some situations. But I still feel like our more sensitive ones are being feed to the lions..

  18. This is the post that I read and say, Thank you God for giving me boys. Not that similar things can’t happen, but since we weren’t boys (speaking for myself here but…) the reaction is different when it happens. I feel like if I had a daughter, my reactions to anything would be to want to reverse every potential pain that happened to me growing up from her having to experience. With having boys…I didn’t experience their side of it and so I can only try to help navigate them the way I hope works. Fumbling here…but mean it from the heart, Moms of girls have it harder, as I’d imagine if I’d had one I’d want her growing pains to be much lesser than mine were. Tongue tied tonite…

  19. Isn’t it amazing how the “mama bear” comes roaring to the surface with stuff like that? Girls are more subtle (or they will be) – boys are just “you’re too short/weak/dumb to play.” More direct in their soul-wounding. Lovely. I wrote about this from the mother-of-boys pov: http://www.mannahattamamma.com/2009/02/growing-pains.htmlOUR children are of course precious amazing darling heads. OTHER children are mean and obviously headed for juvie.Loved the picture of your girl!

  20. Sadly, the mean girl stuff does start early. I dealt with it daily when N was 3.5 and it nearly shattered my heart. She’d tell me things in the car on the way home and I’d be in tears, furious.At that age, a lot of it is figuring out social power and how it works. Not unlike adults in groups, some kids learn very quickly how to dominate others and which children will submit etc. I was in N’s class as a helper almost everyday back then and I saw it for myself. Also? Watch out for girls with older sisters. They seem to be the meanest.

  21. I totally agree with Caffeinatrix. The ones with older sisters are the worst. Also, the ones who grow up in swim/tennis communities who have an established posse from the Summers at the pool suck as well.

  22. I was shocked when Mimi was 3 and the cliquiness started among her preschool friends. Her wise and wonderful teacher acknowledged my disbelief and reassured me that she’ll be just fine. 4 years later, she’s doing fine indeed (though the cliques persist of course).Thalia will be just fine too.

  23. 3.5 sounds about right. I seem to recall entering the bitchy girl world when I was around 2.5 or 3? (I had an older sister to speed things up for me) ((and yes, I remember being 2.5))

  24. I’m so sorry that this happened to your daughter. I can’t believe it starts so young! That’s outrageous, she’s still so little that it’s hard to imagine that there would be anybody who wouldn’t want to play with her.What a beautiful picture, too. She’s lovely =)

  25. My daughter is a “mean” girl. Well, not quite all the way, but she has tried it out a enough times to worry her dad and I. The thing is that she is very insecure. She has to be the best at everything or she falls to pieces. I have been trying to teach her that it’s okay to just have fun and not be competitive about everything. So far her teacher has noticed a difference and a new ability to laugh at herself. The other parents at school have also heard good things about her from their kids. As a former mean girl victim I am seeing through new eyes just how insecure those girls were and how sad it is that their parents weren’t able or didn’t want to intervene at an early age. I mean, life eventually bitch slaps those mean girls back into place. I am crossing my fingers our early intervention with our little one has a lasting impact.

  26. b above kind of took the words out of my mouth.I have three little girls. I have to deal with this 3 times over.Parents need to help their children be confident and stress the importance of being nice. Also arm them with good examples of things to say when someone is mean to them.My oldest has been dealing with this in K and 1st grade. I always ask how she responded, praise her for her good judgment, and make sure she’s not saying mean things to other people.This situation is so heart breaking to parents but our children have to learn to get along without us.

  27. I know what you mean… it makes you crazy to hear of your kid being rejected.On the other hand, sometimes Rowan annouces that another kid is boring or she doesn’t want to play with her anymore.What’s a mom to do? Force her to play with a kid she doesn’t want to play with? I settle with telling her she doesn’t have to play with anyone she doesn’t want to play with but she has to be nice about it.When you figure out how to do that, let me know.

  28. That is heart breaking. I hate when they come home from school and tell me how someone was mean to them. I just want to beat up the kid who was mean. Wanting to go ninja will never change. You will just learn how to teach her to go ninja.

  29. I kept my four year old boy home from preschool this week because a group of boys and girls were being mean to him. He was handling it okay, but I was leaving the school crying everyday. I think preschool is training ground for middle school.

  30. My daughter has been dealing with the mean girls since preschool. They seem to get meaner every year. This year one of the girls actually started bullying her.

  31. Oh! It starts too early 🙁 Glad to see she already learned the coping mechanism – turn to others who are kinder to you.

  32. I had my mommy heart attacked much in this same way this year when my daughter came home saying that her “best friend” wrote I hate Kate. She was actually exuberant bc this same “best friend” said she'd be friends with her the next day. Ack. I've never actually considered homeschooling until that moment. All of me wanted to create a bubble and gather my family inside and stay for a looooong time. It's the first to come in a long line of heart-wrenching moments, and I know you're right with the this-experience-will-help-them-grow train of thought. And I know in my heart that it's true, but it's so t-o-u-g-h.

  33. Loved reading all the comments!! My 5 yr old sweet empathetic BOY is having his heart broken almost daily by a 5yr old GIRL ( with an older sister, I might add!) We do homeschool and he has a 3yr old brother, but these friends are on our street, at church AND our homeschool playgroups! The mom is sweet but way too easy on them when her girls are mean to my boys. They do the whole “Girls only” and ” I don't want to play with you today” thing. Meanwhile my boys still draw them pictures and put them on their doorstep, a day after running to me crying they were excluded!! I plan on talking to the mom,who is also my friend, about this nicely and hopefully figuring outdone kind of solution!!

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