Dear Powers That Be,
I am writing to you on behalf of someone I know pretty well - in fact, you could say I've known her since the day she was born, but considering I housed her for nine months and two weeks before that, I guess I've known her all her life. And you've known her too, what with the disembodied omniscience and all, so you know whereof I speak when I talk about Celeste.
Anyway, since you know Celeste so well, you know that she adores tide pooling. She was so excited to go looking for sea stars and periwinkles with her class for their last field trip of the year that she must have reminded us 4,963 times, don't forget I have to bring a change of shoes, Mom, and my teacher said to bring a disposable water bottle and I need an extra drink and a snack for the field trip tomorrow! She was up early and ready to go, giving an extra squeeze with her goodbye hug because FIELD TRIP!!!!
So you can imagine my surprise when I got home post field trip to find a quiet, withdrawn daughter instead of a tired, contented daughter. Since you are omniscient, you know that, to make a long story short, she spent the day basically by herself or only talking to other kids when the teacher made them be her partner because no one wanted to hang out with her today. What's more, you know that this has been the pattern all year - all.dang.year - and that this is not anything new, or surprising, or different for her. Finally, you know that even though she's used to this, it still sucks all the fun out of her days on a regular basis, because when you're a little kid (or even a big kid), half the fun of school is being with your little friends - and when no one wants to be your friend, well, that hurts.
What I don't get, Powers That Be, and what I'd love you to help me understand, is this: Why this kiddo? After all, this is the NICE child; the child who runs into the kitchen to help; the one who voluntarily offers to do chores, walk the dog, and make dinner. I could understand if her grouchy, cranky, hard-to-please preadolescent sister was having a hard time, but she's not. The child who barely has a friend to talk to all day long is the one who is kind to others and sensitive to how they feel; where's the logic in that?!?
Please understand, PTB, that I know kids save up the bad stuff and don't share the good stuff at home. I know there are kids who probably are more nice than not-nice to her on a regular basis. I know she is a regular old human being, and she has personality quirks and not-so-enjoyable qualities, some of which could be annoying to other kids. I don't see her during the day like you do; maybe she's a tattletale. Maybe she's a goody-two-shoes. Maybe she's a know-it all who corrects everything everyone else does. I simply don't know. But from my limited experience, any flaws she has certainly are no greater and no worse than the flaws any typical kid her age has, and all the other kids get along with one another. So what gives?
Here's the thing, PTB - I have spent all year trying to help Cici figure out this situation without letting her sink into a morass of poor-me-ism. I've listened without judgment; brainstormed ideas; listed options; and encouraged her to talk to the school counselor, her teacher, anyone who might be of some kind of assistance to her. I've asked her to share a positive interaction every time she shares a complaint. I've tried to have her look at an event or an issue from another perspective, to see why someone might react differently from the way she reacts. I've made her take initiative to do fun things, like planning to get together with her friends outside school or setting up a special activity for the weekend, so that she has something to look forward to (and then, I hope, she won't care so much about what's going on socially in school). I'm here to tell you, I've put in a hell of a lot of hard, uphill work this year, and I have to say I do not see where it has gotten anyone anywhere. What I am saying, PTB, is that we have planned the work and worked the plan, and I am tired of putting in all this effort and having not one thing get even the slightest bit better for this child. Seriously, PTB, if someone in this family has to have no friends to talk to all day, why her and not me? I'm a grownup, supposedly, and I can hack having to wait until evenings or weekends to talk to people I like. I would rather 10,000 times over spend all day not having anyone be nice to me than listen to my sweet little girl say things like, "why do you think no one wants to be my friend?" or, "I know the other kids don't want to play with me." I can't even describe how awful that feels.
So, PTB, let me tell you this - I spend a lot of time musing about stuff I want - a smaller dress size, more disposable income, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep - but honestly, that stuff doesn't matter. That's just convenience, vanity, ego - take your pick. What I do want, what I really really want, is for some kind of cosmic scale-tipping to happen, starting....right........NOW. I want this kid to find a group of friends who reflect back to her what she is so willing to give - kindness, loyalty, sweetness, love. I want her to get a fresh start with a new class next year so that all the harsh words these kids have thrown at her can be forgotten in the past. I want her to have some real, true pals who will stand by her and with her, through thick and thin. I just want to come home at the end of the school day and not cringe inwardly as I ask, "so how did it go today?" That's all. But that's everything right now.