Sunday, August 3, 2008

Target: The New Girl

My husband and I moved our family from our home of 15 years in a large city to be closer to family in a much smaller community in California. I was ecstatic to be closer to my now aging parents and sister. Our daughters were finishing 4th and 5th grade. We felt we needed to make the move before our 5th grader went into junior high. We worried a great deal about her socialization and wanted to make sure she had friends going into junior high that fall.

Unfortunately, I could not buy a play date for my 5th grader. In spite of my efforts to invite girls over, A.J. was invited to only 3 play dates and 1 birthday party in the last 5 months of the school year. Our invitations were turned down because of the girls extra curricular activities. Moving half way through the school year made it impossible to join the Camp Fire Troops, Book Clubs, soccer team, etc.

On the other hand, my 4th grader Halley was so busy with play dates and birthday invitations, that I couldn’t even keep track of her social calendar. The very first day I took her to see her new school, a large herd of girls stampeded around her and asked her a million questions. Luckily, the bell rang and they ran back to class. I stood back and watched Hal’s reaction. At first she seem frightened, but did okay. I counted some 16 girls! I noticed that Jen, a neighbor girl we had just met, was there, but left right away before the other girls left.

On her first day of school, Halley stood up and sang a song she had written in front of the music class. The music teacher was delighted and very impressed to see a child voluntarily jump up and sing in front of an audience. According to Hal, she got a lot of attention from the other kids who were also impressed with her ability. Jen, however, was not impressed with Hal’s sudden popularity and talent and began to spread rumors about the “new girl".

Hal had a bit of a following for the first couple of weeks of school. She was not popular at the other school, so she did not know what to make of it. I told her that it would all die down in a few days once the novelty of her arrival wore off.

We ignored Jen’s bad behavior which included spreading rumors (her powerful weapon of choice); telling people to be mean to Halley, and saying Hal’s name out loud to get her attention, then whispering in another girl’s ear while looking at Hal and then laughing. We invited Jen over to play numerous times. We invited her to our pizza/movie nights, Hal’s birthday party, and even took her to a Women's Stanford Soccer game. Jen never once invited Hal over to play at her house.

One day Hal broke down in tears because she just didn’t understand why Jen didn’t like her. I felt so badly for her. I hugged her and said that not everyone is going to like us. I pointed out that we do not like everyone ourselves. I told her to forget about Jen. I assured her that we were not going to invite her over anymore and to just stay away from Jen at school. I told her there were a lot of nice girls at school who would be happy and lucky to be her friend.

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