My little girl’s shoulders slumped as she got in the minivan. “The whole team was invited, Mom. I was the only one not included.”
Seventh grade is hard. I know, I did it once. I’d go from elation to desperation and back again in five minutes flat. My poor parents.
Later that night, with Jordan’s wounds fresh on my heart, I was scrolling through Facebook when a friend’s post caught my attention:
“My heart is breaking. It happened. My biggest fear when it comes to letting my baby girl go to kindergarten. I could tell something was not right when I picked her up from school. She came home, went to her room and shut the door. I stood outside her door and asked if she was OK. She swung her door opened, practically knocked me over with a hug and started bawling. She said the girl who lives across the street would not be her friend. She and another girl were teasing my daughter at recess and no one would play with her. It’s already starting.”
Another momma, many states away, with a daughter just starting school, was grieving for her baby the way I was grieving for mine. But we weren’t the only ones.
What struck me most about that post was the amount of responses from people. Women in all different phases of motherhood sharing their hearts, saying “I’ve been there.”
We’ve all been there, either as parents or in our own childhood. My husband says it’s a rite of passage. As long as time has existed, kids have had to learn social behavior from the school of hard knocks.
Yes, but …
Couldn’t we give them some tools to make it a touch more bearable? Couldn’t we teach them that we all feel better when we lead with kindness?
Is there a solution? I don’t know. I want to say yes. I want to say it has something to do with kindness, but specifically, what kind of kindness?
My eyes turned again to the comments left by other moms. This time, instead of just noticing the unity, I saw ideas of ways to nurture our children and ourselves pouring from the page.
“Find out if she can pair up with a buddy.”
“Empower her to look for someone else who needs a friend.”
“Talk to the teacher.”
“At Nativity they have kids that volunteer to be ‘Peace Keepers’ during recess. Their job is to look for kids who aren’t playing with others or are being picked on and go to them. Maybe you could suggest that concept to your principal?”
“Maybe having her pray for the other girls would be a good idea.”
“Walk across the street and talk to the mom and daughter. Suggest they start over and become friends.”
“Tell her to put herself out there and say hi to someone she doesn’t know!”
“I always took the angle that little kids that act that way probably have very unhappy lives. I told my kids that maybe someone has been very mean to that little girl and that’s why she is mean.”
“Does the school have a friend bench? I’ve heard about them: just sit on the bench and then other kids will know you’re looking for a friend to play with.”
“The ‘Daniel Tiger’ television series is based on Mr. Rogers and is great for empathy and emotional skills.”
“Good snuggles and a good night sleep sometimes do the trick. Monday is a new day with new friends to be made.”
All of our children are going to experience growing pains as they work their way through childhood. We all did. I’m sharing these ideas in the hopes that a combination of any of the above, along with a strong dose of love from mom and dad, will help make the journey a little more pleasant.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.