Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Figuring Out Friendships

My daughter barely got in the car to drive home after school before the tears rolled down her face. She explained that she had a horrible day, and that one of her friends has been so mean to her lately. This is not the first time I heard her say this. She has a group of about five friends she spends a lot of time with, and well, groups are tricky. They dynamics shift, hormones can contribute to bigger feelings, people feel left out, jealousy comes in to play, and it can be a mess. In fifth grade, friendships that seemed easy in the past can get more complicated. Maybe some of my daughter's close friends will remain close with her in years to come.

Maybe they won't though. When I begin to listen to my daughter tell me what her friend said to her, my heart breaks. My daughter tried to discreetly share some news to one other girl about a trip that just the two of them are going on. When my girl sat down for lunch, the rest of her friends were upset for talking about the trip at school. She didn't know how they knew, and she apologized, but one of them went on to say that my daughter managed to ruin her day and gave her a dirty look. My head searched for what to say. I stopped the car, got out and hugged her in the back seat. I tried but failed to wipe the tears and dirt smeared on her face from a day at school. I asked her if she wanted advice or if she just wanted me to listen. She said she wanted advice.

I'm not sure anything I said was helpful. After all, no one can or should try to fix feelings like this. She needs to have them, process them, and navigate through them on her own. I shared my opinion that perhaps this friend wishes she could be invited on the trip as well. I explained that even though she was trying to be private about talking about the trip, that in the future she should not share any of it at school. I explained that sometimes people can be hurtful, and that I wish I could say it would be the last time she felt like this but it won't be. I then gave her a few options on how to move forward from this. I said she could take a break from this group since she had other friends she could spend time with for lunch or recess. She could speak with the friend that is upset with her and talk it out, and she could also see the counselor at school who is available for situations just like this. Today will be her first day back and I believe she choose to take a break.

For my daughter and for myself, I remind us both what being a friend really means. I have to give myself this refresher course from time to time. If something comes up with one of my friends I need to check in to see how we can talk it through, and if we can't I need to make sure that this friend still enjoys their time with me, and I with them. All friendships aren't made to last.

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