Friday, September 01, 2006

Mean preschoolers

So, I took Sofi to preview day at her preschool (or Mothers' Morning Out program) - I'm not a hypocrite, I'm just sending her 2 mornings a week. That way, she gets the enrichment and social activity, and I can run my errands without dragging her around town whining and complaining. And, when she comes home I can be mentally there with her rather than going through my mental lists of what I need to get done.

So, this whole preschool thing... at preview day there was a little boy who wouldn't share with her. I want to give her coping mechanisms for that, so I told her to go and ask him to let her have a turn too, please, which she did with finesse and charm. But, the little bugger (I'm not biased, really) said no and walked off with the toy (which, by the way, he had just snatched from her sweet little hand). Sadly, she looked to me for wisdom, and hoping I'd solve the problem for her. I won't always be there though, so she needs to learn to cope, right? So I did my best to explain that not all boys and girls have learned how much fun it can be to share, so she would just have to show them and set a good example. Now, that's fine when I'm sitting next to her to give her comfort and courage, but what happens this Tuesday when I drop her off and drive away, leaving her with 8 other kids and 2 teachers? I'm sure the teachers won't see everything, and I don't want to teach Sofi to be a tattle-tale. It's amazing how young bullies start being bullies (and I don't mean to say that this little boy was a bully, but what if there is one in her class?) and in a class of 9 kids there are only 3 girls. I do so hope the girls accept her. Girls can be brutal! Cliques form at such a young age, and they only get worse as they grow up.

Sadly, even moms at the playground separate into groups based on the brand of stroller or diaper bag you have. Or the brand of shoes, brand of kids' clothes, or even whether you stopped at Chick Fil A for lunch or Wendy's, and of course there are those moms who took the time and energy to prepare a healthy picnic lunch before leaving the house - and our kids probably shouldn't even be neighbors with their kids on the swing-set - we might inadvertently tempt them to indulge in some sort of grease saturated junk food and then where would the world be?

We're all in this together, right? all the preschoolers starting for the first time are in the same boat - missing their moms and dads (and siblings if they're so blessed), in a new chaotic environment that seems at once exciting and threatening, and having to make new friends with strange kids when they don't even know how to make friends or even play together - really, they have to parallel play with strangers! So why can't they love each other and create a warm, fuzzy, supportive environment? Well, part 1, because they're not developmentally there. Part 2, and probably more important, because we moms and dads don't model the example enough for them. Can't we all just get along?

Okay, abandon the cliches, but really, if we want our kids to have better social skills, we have to make some effort to stop judging our own peers. And we also have to teach our kids that not everyone will like them. As sad as it sounds, and as much as I hate to admit it, not everyone will like my precious angels. And I need to teach them that's okay and give them the skills they need to cope with it. My first instinct is to tell Sofi before she goes to school that she'll make new friends and that all the kids will love her. But, I can't really make that promise, and frankly, there probably will be kids that don't like her. And it's my job to teach her that's okay, and to treat other kids with respect even if she doesn't like them. Eek! it's a harsh world out there, and I'm just not ready to share that harshness with my kids at such a young age! But sheltering them won't help either.

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