Yesterday I picked M. up from school early. I wanted to take her out for some a girly lunch, well it was almost girly. Her older brother remained at school and her younger brother was at day care but her baby brother tagged along. To compensate for his presence I wore a skirt and she wore a dress that I’d made for her earlier in the year.
The reason for the lunch? Well unfortunately all the crap that she experienced at school last term has resumed. My poor darling girl has been coming home in tears and spent a good part of last weekend sobbing on her Dada’s shoulder.
My heart is breaking for her and I just wanted to give her respite from the intense experience. Some special time.
It is sometimes difficult to get a clear picture of exactly what is going on at school. Questions come to mind as to whether or not she is exaggerating or perhaps misinterpreted things. Last week though two other parents approached me to let me know that something was going on. One parent had been told by her daughter that M. was being ostracised and the other was a parent helper for another class and witnessed M. being shunned at lunch time. Devastating.
The most confusing aspect of the situation is that the apparent ring leader also happens to be our neighbour. A neighbour who knocks on our door to play almost every afternoon. I’ve never witnessed any untoward play between the two girls, but E. says that’s because its different when I’m around.
After much consideration on Monday of this week I sent her mother a long text message letting her know that the issues had resurfaced (I had wanted to catch up with her husband before school but got caught chatting about the situation with a parent of one of the other girls involved). Last term after the classroom teacher had pulled her aside she’d exclaimed that she’d wished I told her, blah blah. At that time I explained that I had not discussed it with her because I had not actually witnessed anything. The teacher discussed it with her because the teacher had observed the behaviour first hand. In my thinking at that time it was therefore a school issue.
Now however I feel like I have to protect M. more. Coming home from school after a tough day to then play with the person who’d left you out is confusing for her. Dave and I can see that M. is overly keen to please our neighbour and we’ve also noticed that she is very anxious when we say ‘no’ to play of an afternoon (because you know there are things like dinner to make and baby brothers to bath and cleaning up bedrooms and so on and so on…) We just don’t have a good feeling about it, especially since during the school day she won’t let M. play with her or her friends and she actively encourages other children not to sit next M. on the mat.
So in my text message I asked that she keep her daughter at home of an afternoon until the issues at school are resolved. I explained that I wanted to provide a safe place for M. after difficult days at school. The next morning at school drop off I approached her to chat about it and she said that she’d discussed it with her daughter but she denied knowing anything of it. What more could she do? she asked.
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
The whole situation is heartbreaking, confusing and awkward. Dave and I wonder what we could do to help M. fit in. We’ve asked our neighbour and M’s teacher if there is anything in particular she is doing that alienates the other children. No answers.
We’ve questioned ourselves about the advice that we give her. On this past weekend we’d counselled her to consider whether or not she’d wanted people who treated her meanly to be her friends. We suggested to her that if people didn’t like her just the way she is then they’re not going to make good friends.
Then her classroom teacher advised me that this week M. wasn’t making an effort with the children in the class (who had had another class discussion about inclusion). M had told her teacher that she didn’t want friends. So that night Dave and I re-wrote our advice to her and suggested that if people were making an effort with her she should meet them halfway.
We’ve got no idea what we’re doing here. We’re feeling totally ill-equipped as parents.
M. soldiers on though. She becomes more and more resilient and our family, especially her older brother, has closed ranks around her. I know that her Grandpa has penned some words of love and encouragement to her too which will soon be delivered by our postie.
Meanwhile there are glaring looks from our neighbour’s mother. Looks that suggest we’ve made the entire thing up. Looks that suggest that she perhaps feels like she is the victim in all this. Or maybe that’s not it all? Perhaps I’m just misreading it and the looks are of tired confusion the very same that I wear on my face.
On a brighter note. Lunch was lovely. We sat by the water, had a stroll, laughed as we watched our baby Ace chase seagulls (crawling!) and she had a giant chocolate ice cream. (Technically speaking it was a ‘small’ ice cream – serving sizes these days are ridiculous – I had wanted to get one too but the small was just too large for me … but that is a rant for another day)
Oh … and details about the dress – because I never did blog about it at the beginning of the year. The fabric, picked up from Spotty, has the most darling May Gibb’s gumnut babies print. The pattern is the very same that I used for her 5th birthday frock sans the sleeves. It’s from Ottobre 3/2011 from memory.