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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mean girls

I hesitate to write about this, it's just a minor thing, but it got my hackles up, mostly because I know it's going to happen again and again and I won't be able to do a thing about it. Ah well, I'd better back up and tell the story...

I took the girls to the pool on Tuesday. The three of us swam and then had a little dinner. Ree jumped back in the pool for a few minutes while Ro just sat next to me drying off and relaxing. She kept looking at a group of three little girls who were playing with some small toys on the nearby grass. So I said to her "Why don't you walk over there and introduce yourself and ask if you can play with them?" She walked near them, stood there for a while, then looked back at me. So I went over and helped her. I introduced ourselves to the girls, and asked if Ro could play with them. They said their names, their ages (they were 4½, 5½, and 6), and then said Ro could play. Later Ree went over too. I watched them and noticed that the girls were kind of bossy with Ro and Ree—they told them exactly where to sit and wouldn't let them touch any of their toys. But Ro and Ree seemed content to just be near the group and weren't bothered by anything, so I just let it go.

At this point, I should have gone over and gotten Ro and Ree and casually brought them back over near me to do something else fun. They wouldn't have even noticed anything, and I would have been listening to my instincts that said these girls were not going to be nice. Anyhow, I did nothing, just watched, and sure enough, a few minutes later the little brats (oops, did that just slip out?) packed up their stuff and moved to the other side of the lawn and started shoving Ro and Ree saying "Go away! We don't want you here. Go!!!"

Are you freakin' kidding me?! I bolted out of my chair and ran over there and hugged my little sweeties (who were looking confused at this point since no one is ever mean to them) and quietly hissed at the girls "What are you doing?!" The biggest one, the six year old, said "We just want to be alone, we don't want them here." And I looked right in their eyes and said "Oh you don't have to worry about that—you're going to be alone for the rest of your life if you don't learn how to treat people nicely!" (I can think of plenty of really calm, tremendously wise things to say now, but oh well, it was the first thing that popped to mind.)

Then I held Ro and Ree's hands and we serenely walked away. I was steamed. Still am. Now maybe this was a random occurrence and those girls are usually sweeter than sugar. But probably not. I was painfully shy as a kid, and remember being tortured by mean, cliquey girls like that back in grade school (as early as first grade!). Frankly they just got meaner as they got older. Ro and Ree never knew anything was happening. They were a little confused for a few seconds, but the mean girls weren't even really a blip on their radars. For now.

The thing that kills me is that I know this type of thing will happen over and over as they're growing up. My heart aches because I know that at some point they'll lose their sweet, innocent view that everyone likes them and be hurt by the fact that there are cliques, friends, and groups who don't want them. I hope it doesn't happen for a while yet, and I hope that when it does they're strong enough and confident enough to shrug it off. That's what I'll keep working on. That, and teaching them to treat other people like they want to be treated. They've already got a headstart because they are truly sweet, caring, happy, beautiful girls—plus, as twins, they'll always have each other. No matter what happens, they'll face it together, their own little club of two nice girls.  

* Please note that comments on this post have been closed because I have written a subsequent post endorsing the comments and encouraging folks to read them. In order for that endorsement to ring true, it seems to me that it can only apply to the current set of comments, so that's what I did. :-)

88 comments:

  1. Wow. Hugs to you and the girls! I was also one of the victims of the mean girl cliques growing up. I guess that's why I primarily played with boys and was such a tomboy.

    You did the right thing, and while you can't stop it from happening again, you are teaching your girls skills that will help them deal with it.

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  2. I'm so sorry...yes it is bound to happen in this world. You are right about them always having each other and I always try to stress that with all of my kids, the older 3 and the younger 2. And don't blame yourself for reacting because ANY mother would've done the same thing. The sad thing is, they probably picked their behavior up from their own mothers. It is difficult to understand my daughter with cleft lip and palate (repaired) and in preschool this past year, she was pushed out of group play by a couple of little girls several times. I'm so thankful that she loves and adores her unconditionally loving sister who is a year older. I still want to protect my boys who are 17, 20, 21 from the hardships of this world and I am finding it extremely painful and impossible.

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  3. Anonymous7/16/2009

    What lesson would you like to take from this one experience and teach your 3 year olds? I think that is what is important.

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  4. I love that you said, "And you'll be alone the rest of your lives if you don't treat people better." That is the truth, the absolute truth and there's no need to candy coat it. Those girls need to shape up. I worry about the whole nasty girls, boys, cliques, etc. because it haunted me as a child and as a result, has an affect on how I see myself in adulthood. It's on my list of number one most important things to teach my kids to learn when to care and when not to care about these kinds of behaviors. Way to go, M3. You did good.

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  5. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I had a similar experience a while back. I walked up to the girls and said to my daughter, within hearing reach of the girls.. "Remember when I said to you there are some kids that are just mean? Well, this is what mean girls look like. Let's hope the next time we can avoid them." Then I looked at the girls and told them they were very ugly inside and I hoped one day they might learn how to be beautiful inside and out and walked away. I was in tears before I go to the car.

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  6. Good for you, Mama! You did the right thing.

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  7. Gggrrrrr! Terrible but not at all surprising- sorry for you and your girls.

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  8. I couldn't stand those girls then, and I still can't stand them now... I really think you're right: they just get meaner as they get older. I swear, at age 36, these kinds of girls (uh, I should say 'women' I guess since they are now in their thirties) still make me CRAZED with fuming anger. The cliques. The cattiness. The snobbishness. The exclusivity. It all makes my skin crawl. I'm with you on this-- all you can do is brace yourself and brace your little sweeties for what lies ahead. Hopefully they'll learn from your example to just stay above the fray. Thanks for blogging, Heather

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  9. You're right, this is going to happen again, and I'm glad you said something and didn't just walk away with the girls. All too often people won't say something so the mean girls will think their behavior is just acceptable.

    My youngest (3 weeks shy of 9 years old) told me this the other day. She said some people at the YMCA camp were making fun of her name - it's pronounced Macy - and teasing her and saying "what, did you mom name you after a department store", etc. So my daughter tells me this that night, in a very casual way, so I asked her how she handled it, and she was just SO cool and said: Mom, geesh, I just ignored they were being jerks and just trying to get a reaction from me.

    She's so much cooler than I have ever been. :-)

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  10. I'm proud of you M3! That line you rattled off to those brats (shoot, I'LL call them that! No hesitation!) was one of those lines that I can only think of 10 minutes after I've already walked away! It's awful to say, but situations like this build character, and from what I read about how you raise your beautiful girls, they will have NO problem in the future "shrugging off" little snots like this. You handled the situation really well. Bummer thier moms weren't in earshot though... ;)

    Sidebar - I read your blog daily, but have never commented(this post just got me so steamed!)...wanted to take the time to say that I thoroughly enjoy your take on family life and motherhood. I have a little girl on the way and these are the types of nightmares I have - how will I deal when it's me and my baby in this situation?? Not only this particular post, but your approach to parenting in general has been and will be a very positive influence for me. Thank you...

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  11. Anonymous7/16/2009

    Wow. We are talking about some pretty young children here, not teenagers. I think there is definitely some projecting going on here.......

    I think these children's parents would be upset that a stranger told them they would be "alone for the rest of their lives". Also to anonymous who told the kids they were very ugly inside- that's just uncool. We need to be very careful in dealing with other people's children. It's not our job to teach them, and it's just not appropriate.

    ALL kids are mean at some time or other. It doesn't mean that they learned it from their parents, and it doesn't mean that they are going to grow up to be bad people. I too have been the victim of "mean girls" in my teen years, but I would never think that the behavior of kindergarten-age children is the same thing.

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  12. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I used to teach elementary school and little girls are getting meaner, younger than they ever did before. I'm glad that Ro and Ree were oblivious to the situation. Next time some clique of girls is mean to them, find them a group of little boys to play with! At our community pool the little boys are always in a big ole' group having fun, splashing around and they will let any little girl join in that asks! My 1st grade boys at school were AWESOME while the little girls (at 6 years old) were already gossipy and mean. It seems that you are teaching Ro and Ree to be nice to everyone and that is great! Keep up the good work Mama and teach em to hang with the boys on the playground for now---until they discover that boys do indeed have "cooties". ha.ha.

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  13. I understand (also being a victim of mean girls) but I'm really surprised you didn't get attacked by one of their mothers, if not immediately, in the near future! I once spoke up to some child in a mall playground who was standing at the top of the slide ladder kicking my then 18 month old son in the face when he tried to climb up, asking him to share the slide and be nice to the babies (the boy was around 5 or 6) and the mom vaulted over and cussed at me 'how dare I talk to her child and if my son can't stand up for himself then he's too young to be playing here, and her son is just playing' and on and on, calling me choice words. It was unbelievable. The entitlement some people feel.

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  14. Dear M3,

    Boy do I hear ya. My girl is 7.5 now and if you thought you had to have thick skin to get through grade school yourself, try being the mother of a grade-school girl. Girls are getting meaner much younger and two years ago when my sweet pea started kindergarten it was a shocker for me.

    To the annomyous who wrote "I too have been the victim of "mean girls" in my teen years, but I would never think that the behavior of kindergarten-age children is the same thing." I think you may be underestimating the sophistication of very young girls these days. So many of them are exposed to inappropriate media where they learn behaviors they are ill-equipped to use but use nonetheless. Our school does a program for 3rd grade girls which focuses on exactly this kind of behavior and two years ago when my daughter started in kindergarten the mean girl attitude was so rampant with the 5-6 year-olds the guidance councilor had to order the kindergarten program. They spent the last 4 months of the year working with the girls in focus groups. I spent nearly every afternoon in tears after picking up my daughter from school.

    She now spends most of her time playing with boys and is a self-professed "tom-boy".

    M3 - you have a very distinct advantage here though. Your girls come in a package. They will always have each other and will always have someone to stand up for them and someone to absolutely trust. Two of my best friends from highschool- and still to this day- are identical twins and they were always protected from this girl BS because they had each other. I found a way to hide within that sisterhood too and called myself the third twin.

    Take care - they will be fine- they are not alone in this world full of mean girls.

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  15. You did great to have a retort to those girls. I'd have just removed mine from the situation and thought of what I *should* have said at a later point in time. I always get flustered and can't get the words out.

    ~Kelly

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  16. I worry about this type of thing every day...
    Girls can be very mean; it's a fact. How to protect my girls from them and how to give them enough strenght and confidence to deal with them is something I strive to do every day.

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  17. My questions is "where was there parents to tell them this was NOT aceptable behavior". It usually does not take long to figure out why kids act this way when you see no parents stepping up to "guide" them!!!

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  18. Amyesq7/16/2009

    UGH already! So sorry to hear that. And how interesting that the girls' parents didn't even to be within noticing distance. Isn't that always the case with the naughty/mean kids? Like you, I feel really lucky that at least our girls will be able to face this kind of thing together.

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  19. Wow....bravo! You're a good Mom and your girls will be taught well.

    That's a good lesson. Thanks for sharing it.

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  20. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I can fully understand how you feel
    however you are a good mother

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  21. I am so sorry. This kind of behavior really ticks me off. I too taught kndg. and I never allowed any of my children (my own or my school kids) to behave this way. I think you did the right thing. You are a great MOM and your girls are adorable. They are better off being away from a group like that anyway. Hurray for you!

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  22. Since I wasn't there I'm sure I can't fully understand the situation, but I wonder if these young girls just didn't have the advanced social prowess to "ease out of a situation" like adults do. Maybe they didn't know how to gently leave the girls with the right vocabulary (ie. it was nice meeting you, we're going to go now...). I mean, they were pretty young. But like I said, I wasn't there and it's totally possible they were just being snooty.

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  23. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I followed a few blogs
    most of those mommies have written about the similar bitter and ungrateful experience as yours
    please stay positive
    your daugthers are very lucky to have such a protective and caring mother like you

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  24. Way to go M3. You handled it just fine, contrary to what a couple of your anonymous posters might think. We had a much smaller incident at the pool today with some big boy trying to steal stuff out of Lily's bucket. She came over to me with a bewildered look on her face so I told her to go up to said big boy and tell him to "back off buddy," which she did. Maybe not the best way to handle it but it worked. He left her alone after that. The thing I hate is that we moms won't always be there to help. Ugh.

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  25. This has my hackles up too. And I'm not even their Mama! :)

    Seriously, I'm sorry this happened to them already and I hate to say it but it will happen again. I don't know if we ever talked about it before, but this was one of the many reasons why I left my last job. Mean girls and bullies. I have zero tolerance for either and I really I felt that at the school I worked at they were far too lenient regarding those issues. I actually had my principal tell me once "Well you can't MAKE them be nice." Uhhhh........wanna bet? :) It used to upset me to no end. I agree with a previous commenter about kids getting meaner at younger ages. I worked with 5 years olds.

    Anyway, I'm sorry they had to experience it. It's no fun at all. They are lucky to have such a supportive Mom to stand up for them(My mom used to tell me I needed to work those things out myself).

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  26. We did not get Caroline until she was a year old and believe me, her personality came out then! At her baby dedication, she pushed our pastor away! We have been working very hard on explaining to her (even at 5), that she cannot talk to people such as, "I don't like you" or she will not have any friends. If she is corrected, she will tell us she doesn't like us. Her brother never did anything like this. He came home at 4 days old. We have never, never, never modeled this behavior to her, ever, so she did not pick it up from us. No matter how many times we explain the consequences to her, she will still do it sometimes. She's getting better with maturity, but it still comes out. Girls do tend to be more emotional that boys, not all, of course. Caroline's emotions can be extreme. If she gets in a tussle with a friend, she will proclaim that she doesn't like them anymore. She has more than once wanted me to put her brother in jail.

    It was good, however, that M3 spoke up like she did. Many times it's another parent's correction that makes the most impression on a child. If my daughter deserves the verbal correction by another parent, I will most certainly allow it and will reinforce it. And yes, if I had seen my daughter tell someone to "go away" like that, I would have corrected her right then.

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  27. Anonymous7/16/2009

    Wow. Such nasty behavior from such little girls. I must be naive as I didn't think kids could be so mean at such a young age. Just yesterday, I was just talking to a friend who lives in a fairly small town out West. She has a daughter adopted from China who is 7 years old. Her daughter just finished first grade. Apparently, her daughter has been bullied and taunted all year. Kids have been uttering racial slurs against her. The school hasn't done much to stop the behavior. I was shocked. How can kids this young act this way? My daughter is 3 years old and I want her to be able to handle such situations...and for me to handle it well too! I look forward to seeing what all of your reader have to say on this subject.

    BTW, I think you did a great job dealing with the situation at the pool. Well said

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  28. I would have done the same thing when my oldest daughter was three. I remember being terribly hurt by cliquish, mean girls when I was in elementary school. But with twenty more years of parenting girls behind me, I have a different opinion and would react differently now.

    Now I would look at three little girls playing together and realize that even at 6.5 they're still learning social skills, and they're still some other mama's babies. It's likely that they didn't want to play with "little kids" but didn't feel comfortable telling an adult so. Instead, they picked up and moved away, probably hoping that Ro and Ree would stay with you. That strategy didn't work so they regressed to little-kid behavior themselves.

    Please don't misunderstand - I'm not defending their actions or criticizing yours. I hate the thought of sweet little ones getting their feelings hurt. But I would find it far more objectionable if they'd invited Ro and Ree to play with them of their own accord and then turned on them. Just because they happen to be in the same park area as other kids doesn't mean they should have to play with those kids. We allow adults to choose their own companions, but expect kids to play together no matter how different their interests, abilities, and ages.

    When my kids were older preschoolers/early grade-schoolers I sometimes helped them politely escape younger kids who wanted to be around older girls but who interfered in their play. They just didn't know how to get out of the situation. And I often had to redirect my littles from tagging along after older kids who clearly didn't want them there. Man, no wonder I found park days so exhausting! In any case, I'm sorry you and your little sweeties were upset.

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  29. Anonymous7/16/2009

    This brought tears to my eyes. Where were the parents of those mean girls? Obviously acting that way must be fine with them--probably where those girls learned it in the first place. I teach K/gr. 1 and always nip any kind of "put down" behavior in the bud--the kids quickly learn that this is not acceptable under any circumstance. Glad that your little sweeties were unaware.

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  30. Hopefully they will be able to stick together when the going gets rough -

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  31. I had always thought kind of stuff started much older, until my daughter (at 4) started telling me that she hated school. I asked her why and she told me it was because of one of the little girls. I talked to the teachers and they said that they were watching her because none of the girls liked her, but she was so sweet to the teachers, and they heard that her older sisters were very two-faced, so she definitely had a model. They were trying to catch her in the act. And then, one day when we walked in I saw it. She saw my daughter walk in and just scowled at her! And then the very next day, this little girl started saying rude things to ME when I brought Martina in. I didn't know what to do--we were only doing school a few days in the summer, so it wasn't worth it to change programs. They were hesitant to move her to the next class--they said that there were several even meaner girls in there!!

    My daughter doesn't sit there and take it--she does say rude things right back. With the smaller number of kids in the summer, these girls finally started playing together, but I am sad. I know this girl will be back up to her antics in the fall when the new crop comes in. There will be more hurt feelings. I know it affected my daughter's whole attitude toward school. :(

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  32. Go Mom! Scoop them up and protect them while you can!

    My little one had her first heartbreak back in March. My BFF's daughter (whom I'll call Vicky) and my daughter are good friends - like cousins. My daughter was 3.5yo at her daughter's 5yo bday party - All was fine, but then I say Vicky's BEST friend come in - also 5yo. Our girls always play beautifully, but I sensed trouble right away. Sure enough I hear this heart wrenching cry - one I'd never heard before. She sobbed out that Vicky had whispered to her best friend, who relayed the "we don't want to play with you" message. Sobbing.

    I Seriously thought I was going to start crying myself in the middle of the party!!! We went to another room and I thought about leaving the party. I had to talk to myself out loud to calm myself down along with my daughter. I did. (trying to shorten the story, but I know every detail - and always will.) I'm close enough to Vicky that when all was calm, I tried to talk to her about inviting my D to play with them. As much as my D had calmed down, I didn't see her joining in without an invitation. Her mom interceded, did not get an immediate response and gave Vicky a time out. More tears - now from Vicky. All worked out a bit later when they were all playing together with 3 other girlies. We've played many times since and Vicky slept over this week and we had a GREAT time.

    LESSON LEARNED: Girls - maybe boys too - of different ages play well together IF there's not a same-age friend around. My protective mom antenna goes up quickly if I see she's the youngest. Seems like chosing the same-age friend is a right of passage as much as meanness. I'm SURE my daughter will do the same to little friends at some point - which pains me.

    QUESTION RAISED - how do we all handle this "mean girls" thing? It seems WAY to mainstream. I'd like to see specifics - time outs? responses? My daughter has a very real temper, so I'm on offense as well as defense. I welcome any tactics to make their world a more lovely place.

    Thanks M3, as always, for sharing.

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  33. Oh MM.... well I am so sorry your little ones got their feelings hurt, and that really wasn't nice of the older girls...... and please don't hate me for saying this! But you chose, on thier behalf, for the little girls to join in on the big girls group... and the big girls were nice in including them at all, since they don't know them and are all older girls. And they moved away because you'd stepped back, given it some time, and they didn't feel like they had to include the little girls any more. How they responded to the little girls "we don't want you here" was rude, but at that age finding ways to say potentially hurtful things ( we really don't want to play with you, we don't know you and we're exploring our maturituy by trying to be big girls, when you are clearly little girls) in a way that isn't hurtful just isn't a skill these children have, or ANY child of that age. Tact isn't something a 6 year old has. But they are children. Someone elses little ones. Now imagine how you would feel if you were a mother and saw your child and her friends move away from some little ones they didn't know or want to play with, and saw the mother of those little ones come up and hiss at your child "you're going to be alone for the rest of your life"..........

    Yikes...

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  34. I'm sorry that this had to happen but I think you handled it very well. It would have been great if their mothers would have seen the entire thing play out. I wonder how shocked they'd be at their daughters' behavior.

    No matter what we do to protect our kids, there will always be mean ones out there. Your girls are lucky in that they will always have each other and hopefully they can be a strong force against these sorts of girls in the future.

    Bravo M3.

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  35. Sorry to hear that. However, I was thinking that they'll always be twins and they'll always have each other no matter what!

    hugs.

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  36. I am so sorry that happened to you and your little ones! Girls can be so mean, but this is so early!! My heart aches when I think my little darling will eventually have to deal with this. Kuddos to you for saying something, you did the right thing!

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  37. I think you handled it beautifully.

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  38. I hate that someone was mean to them. I just don't understand when kids are so mean. I can't imagine looking at their sweet faces and being mean. I am always on guard with my son, he is 11 and it just does not seem to register with him when someone does not like him or is mean to him. It breaks my heart.

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  39. Sadly I have found that mean girls grow up to be mean women.

    Did the girls parents not notice what was going on?

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  40. Maybe this is the old President of the Thespians and Queen of the Dorks coming out in me, but I feel like I've spent a lifetime just ignoring the mean girls. Don't wanna be them, don't wanna hang out with them...just not interested. Whenever I started at a new school, I created my own pack of friends. I never looked at the mean girls as anything other than inconsequential to me.

    The teasing has made me resilient as an adult, and I'm not sorry that I endured it. Those girls may have thought it silly that I was the President of the Physics Club in 1988, but they aren't laughing at my resume now. That sounds sassy I know, but what goes around comes around.

    That being said, Ro and Ree rock the party. They are sure to be surrounded by warm and wonderful girlfriends all of their lives. Look at their Momma!

    Best to you,

    Indiana Lori

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  41. It is very hard to see our children experience a hurt like this, especially when they are too young to truly understand. It's easy to allow the Momma Bear in us to come to the forefront - I know I would. Still, I think Lise shared some very wise words.

    In a situation like this, another idea to consider might be talking directly with Ro and Ree in front of the girls... saying something along the lines of "sometimes people need space, but they forget how to ask for it nicely. Let's give them some space." And then, as you walk away, you could involve your girls in thinking about times they've needed space... or ways to nicely ask for space... or how they felt when it happened... whatever seems to work in the moment.

    But - in all reality - this is a do what I SAY, not what I DO kind of suggestion. Because I would probably jump in like a Momma Bear, too. Heh.

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  42. There is justice. I remember the "mean/leader girl" during my elementary and middle school years. Everyone always took her crap. Always. I was raised with the "if you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut" philosophy and I didn't have the confidence to confront the behavior (I just stayed away as much as possible). At any rate...something happened over the summer from 8th grade to 9th grade (high school for us) and she was knocked down and left with almost no friends. In fact, I think to this day the insecure person she was all those years before comes through as it did in high school when she became quiet and somewhat withdrawn.

    So justice does prevail. Maybe not today. Or tomorrow. But one day. They will get their just desserts no matter what you say or don't. (Although I can't say I wouldn't have said something to them too, irregardless of their age.)

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  43. Hmmm... Surprising at such a young age, I guess. My experience, (the ones I have experienced first hand anyway) have been positive. Little girls have been welcoming and a lot of them lately seem to argue over being Camille's "best friend". Sorry to hear that Ro and Ree and are having so much trouble!

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  44. Let me at em!!! :o)

    You did well mom. I'm happy to hear Ro and Ree were oblivious to what was happening and it gave you an opportunity to reinforce in a gentle way how important it is to treat others the way we want to be treated.

    Sorry you had to go through this. I'd be steamed too!! (hugs) momma.

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  45. Wow this just brought me back a few decades. I've got a 19 mo old and haden't really thought about that stuff yet. uggh!!!

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  46. Mean girls are just mean! And you're right, they'll be alone in life if they don't learn how to treat people. I always tell my kids that mean people are really miserable inside.

    I'm sorry Ro and Ree had to experience this and you too.

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  47. Just yesterday at a birthday party, a 7 yr old told my almost 4 year old he couldn't play on the swing set. My son, bless his heart, blinked and said "you need to share" and went on to climb on and play on his own without a second thought. My heart clenched at the girl's rejection, and watching my baby play by himself, but he was totally unfazed. I guess this is just the first of many...
    Your girls are so blessed to have each other, and to be so loved!

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  48. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I face this constantly. My daughter is an only child (almost 4) and very friendly. She often asks other kids if they would like to play with her and they say no. I think you reaction was fabulous. I always get in the little brats face and tell them they are not being kind. I also inform my daughter what a fabulous fun girl she is and those kids should be lucky to play with her.
    I cannot stand mean girls and I truly think us parents should get involved (especially at this age!)

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  49. OH! GOOD FOR YOU!! I am so proud of you for speaking your mind to those girls, so many people just don't say anything and I believe its OUR JOB to teach little kids how to be kind.

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  50. You know... part of it could be that developmentally, age 3 and age 6 are LIGHT YEARS away from eachother. There's even a big difference between 3 and 4.5!

    My BFF has a child that is exactly one year older than our twins, and although they see eachother a lot and do play together nicely, they aren't even on the same plane developmentally... nor do they have the maturity to verbalize things in a nice/proper way.

    I have yet to experience what you did, and I'm sure my heart will ache, too, but try not to take it personally. It only takes one bossy older girl to ruin an otherwise docile group.

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  51. The retelling of this incident pained me a bit, because my daughter has a very friendly, sweet side, but she can also have a very defensive stand-up for what I want side. I have heard her make comments that make me think to myself "Oh my gosh, MY daughter is being the mean girl!" We talk about it afterward or right then, and my daughter always realizes that what she said was out of place or unkind. I know she feels bad about it and has even said, "Sometimes it just comes out, Mom." She is my middle, and my older and younger are just more naturally easy-going and compassionate. Being compassionate is something my middle actually has to WORK on, and I know she tries but at times she is not successful. Obviously we are not modeling mean behavior for her, and MOST of the time she is not showing it either. But I'm always kind of keeping an eye on her. She is only 6 and in many ways I see her maturing, yet she's just not one of those girls who is always "sweet" (although she really can be!) She has a spirited, feisty side that we work very hard on it not coming out as "mean."

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  52. Long time lurker... Oh I lived the Mean Girls - so much so that I couldn't watch the movie. I grew up in a suburb that has been featured on a few "nightline" type programs about hazing/snobs/cliques, etc. There's nothing that can replace the feeling, at least for girls of wanting to be "in" and not being able to. BUT, we can steel their self-image, their self-confidence against it so it doesn't make impacts on how they feel in the grander schema of things. You are an amazing mommma. Good for you.

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  53. I teach first grade and I have to agree with what metaphase said.

    "I wonder if these young girls just didn't have the advanced social prowess to "ease out of a situation" like adults do. Maybe they didn't know how to gently leave the girls with the right vocabulary (ie. it was nice meeting you, we're going to go now...)"

    Children at that age truly have no tact. They pretty much tell it like it is...well, like it is from their own perspective. And they fail to look at things from the perspective of the other party. Invariably it leads to all sorts of problems.

    I try to teach my students to really think about what kind of qualities they want in their friends and how they want to be treated by their friends. I encourage them to seek out the company of those who treat them with respect, and not to lash out at those who are rude and mean but to tell them that they don't like the way they are being treated and that is why they are leaving to play with someone else. I find that this works to indirectly improve everyone's social relations. It's hard though, it's really hard. And yes, it gets harder and more deliberate as they get older:(

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  54. I'm sorry, M3. It's so dang hard to see people you love needlessly hurt by the not-so-nice and not-very-well-bred. It's a painful part of life, one that ironically even Jesus couldn't escape. Your girls are cherished and well loved. That, above all, will see them through the hard knocks of life.

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  55. So sorry they had to face this so early, but glad it didn't really phase them. Your right, it is inevitable, and you're doing the right thing by instilling confidence and love in your sweet girls. I used to teach 3rd grade, it's sad how early it starts.

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  56. Anonymous7/16/2009

    I usually post with my real name, but I'm going to go annon. on this one. I'm sorry your little ones got bullied, M3. It's not fun for anyone.

    I've gotta tell you, it's not fun being the Mom of a "mean girl". My nearly 5 year old is mean, bossy, catty and sassy. I didn't teach her to be this way, she just is. She was that way when we met when she was only 10 months old. I'm not a mean person and was also traumatized by mean girls and I hate to see her acting this way. Just today a neighbor girl was at our house playing with my two daughters (they're both born in China, virtual twins) The neighbor kid and daughter #2 came crying that #1 was being mean, and in fact she WAS being mean. I made her stay in the room with me and fold laundry while the other 2 played. She screamed and cried and wailed that it wasn't fair and that she wanted to play and drama after drama. I told her that she may not be with the other kids if she's not going to behave kindly. She emphatically told me that she was not going to be kind and that the neighbor girl had to go home. I stood my ground and she stood hers, completely not caring that she was hurting someones' feelings. It would have been easier to ask the girl to leave and go home, but she was having such a good time playing with #2 that I was going to let them have fun and continue the stand of with #1. I let her know that we do not treat others this way and it was not acceptable in our house and in our family.
    Finally after 45 minutes she relented and said she would play kindly and treat our neighbor in a friendly way. For the rest of the visit, things went well. I was exhausted, though!
    I am NOT AT ALL looking forward to the teenage years with this one. I'm really, really, really hoping that if I stick to my guns she will learn to at least curb her aggressive nature. If I had to label my kid as either "nice" or "not nice", I'd honestly have to choose "not nice" and it's really hard to knock off the rough edges and help her be a wee bit less...well...mean.

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  57. I had a huge glass of wine at dinner and am admittedly extra sappy, but still, I just feel so lucky to have you guys in my corner. I appreciate each and every comment with an attagirl (so nice to hear, oh my gosh so nice!), each offer of hugs (thanks Johnny!), each story of a similar experience, and each tactfully worded offer of an alternative opinion. Truly. So I just wanted to say thanks for all the strong support and also for the smart advice. Through your comments, I feel validated and also feel like I learned a lot about how young kids can and can't communicate so I can be better prepared to handle this situation the next time it comes up. Thank you!
    Cheers,
    MamaBear

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  58. Oh I am soo sorry. I would have reacted the very same way. My daughter who is 13 months walks all around the play ground to find someone to play with. Already tired of her mama. And most of the kids ignore. It's heart breaking.

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  59. samcarter7/17/2009

    As an adult who, as a kid, was bullied mercilessly by the "mean girls" (And, oh my gosh, girls can be so much meaner than boys!), I'm glad you stood up for your girls. My mom would always tell me to "just ignore" the bullies, but you know what, that never really worked. They'd just look for another button to push. I was bullied so much at school--and at home--that by the time i was 12 I couldn't take it and I attempted suicide.

    I am sure that if I felt I had a mom and dad who were on my side, and were determined to go to bat for me as a kid, that I would have felt much more confident and safe as a child. Ro and Ree probably didn't register what happened. It is true that six year olds don't have a lot of tact, and you can't really expect them to 'want" to play with 3 year olds, but they didn't have to be as mean as they were.

    Good for you.

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  60. Anonymous7/17/2009

    I had to deal with mean girls is school but as bad as that felt, it is NOTHING compared to having to see your child go through it. It starts so much earlier than I remember. My daughter comes home from school sometimes, just down & defeated because one of her friends suddenly decided to not be her friend. It's usually over something really, really stupid. One little girl gets mad if my daughter scores higher on a test than her, brings a better snack to school, or chooses a different activity in the after-school program. I really try to keep the lines of communication open & let her know to NEVER let this keep her from doing her best or doing things she wants to do. I'm trying to guide her to get a handle on this now or I know it will only get worse. I generally have her tell the little girl that she's not being a very nice friend that day so she's going to go play with someone else.
    My biggest piece of advice for her was: We cannot control what others do, only what we do & how we react to what they do.
    I want to guard her from the hurt but I know the best thing I can do is hope she'll be strong enough to get past it.
    On the flip side, my friend has a daughter the same age & in the same class. She is, unfortunately, one of the girls nobody wants to play with. My friend asks me constantly what I think the problem is. I know I can't force my daughter to be best buds with this girl just b/c I know her Mom. However, I do tell her that she doesn't have to be best friends to everyone, but she must be kind & polite to everyone.

    Gosh, this is just such a complicated subject. Trust me, when 1st grade comes, you'll be awake nights worrying about things such as this.

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  61. Cue my crushing heart!!

    I have four kids (11, 6, and 4 yr. old twins). The hardest thing is seeing them feel hurt/excluded etc!

    My first reaction when I read your post was, where were the parents??
    But, at no matter what age, our kids will face this and we won't always be there to be there to hold their hand. Seems your doing a great job giving the girls the confidence they need to get through these situations on their own.

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  62. Hi M3
    Thanks for sharing .
    It reminded me of when my oldest was about 3. There was a book which put the whole thing into perspective, at least from my simple view.
    It was about some kind of animal, I think a reptile, who wanted to play with the other alligators. They kept saying no and his feelings got hurt again and again. He ended up all alone because he didn't want to be rejected any more. While alone he made up a game that he found fun. Something, I think, with a ball. He played and played and was laughing out loud and happy entertaining himself. Then , very quickly , not just the other alligators but all the swamp animals wanted to play with him.

    When my oldest was little I felt her pain to an extreme. She is still very sensitive but has learned to keep some of the hurt to herself. With the younger ones ( virtual twins, now 7) I just didn't have time to feel so much . And they had lots of chances to practice hurting feelings, making up and playing nicely with each other. But the principle of "you can always have fun by yourself" has been the standard. We don't allow cruelty but we don't feel sorry for the victim either. These girls are turning out to be much more resilient than the first and I wish I had been more matter of fact the first time around. By the time they are in grade school you rarely want to fight their battles for them. Save it for the big ones
    Joan

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  63. Anonymous7/17/2009

    Some of the commenters felt that perhaps the children didn't realize their words were so blunt or mean but they did shove your daughters - that is intentionally mean! So sorry this happened to your precious daughters and glad you were there to let the mean girls know that was unacceptable. For the commenters who are teachers or have been involved in programs to curb bullying, what are some suggestions that really work? Thanks! Also will be curious if you run into them again, how they will act next time. So glad the twins have each other!

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  64. Anonymous7/17/2009

    I'm with the people who said you need to cut the little girls some slack. My own 7yo is teeming with empathy, but she's not always great about expressing her frustration and has been known to behave in inappropriate ways b/c she just hasn't developed the skills to deal with the situation gracefully. We talk a lot about nicer ways to deal with the social frustration, but I can only deal with it if someone has alerted me to the situation. If we were at the pool and I saw her walk away from some younger girls I wouldn't think anything of it. I would hope she would say something nice, but I don't hover over my 7yo to see what she's saying the way I would have when she was 3. I would hope a parent (you, M3) would let me know if she's said something inappropriate so I could handle it.

    As for the girls being bossy... well, I'm listening to my 7yo boss around her 2yo brother as I type this. Again, it's a developmental thing. She certainly doesn't boss her *older* brother around b/c he'd just ignore her. Nor does she boss around friends her age. But the little one? He's just asking for it from a developmental standpoint.

    "Playground" dynamics suck.

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  65. Anonymous7/17/2009

    It's bound to happen and better that your kids learn to handle things like this on their own when they are small. If they are too protected, the teenage years will be a disaster.

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  66. Good Job! I think you said exactly what should have been said. They are lucky someone did, since it is apparent their parents haven't. I hope I am as quick thinking as you (sad to say) when it happens to my 3-year-old.

    Strike one for those of us that were treated that way as children!

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  67. Anonymous7/17/2009

    M3-

    What I do not understand is why you would believe that what was said to your girls was mean and then turn right around and say something mean back to them.

    I'm not clear what kind of lesson your daughters were to get from that exchange other than if someone says they do not want to play with you to say something mean in response.

    I am all for supporting you but for the life of me I cannot figure out why you would not take an opportunity to explain to the young girls that what they said could hurt someone's feelings and instead chose to retaliate. There are great windows of opportunity to teach lessons to kids and I believe you missed one of them.

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  68. Today at the playground Jonathan kept following a boy older than him. When I wasn't looking, or so the kid though, he kicked my son to try to get my son to go away. I heard Jonathan say "Ow" and saw the kid putting his foot down and knew what had happened. I was not happy and gave the kid the evil eye as if to say "I know what you did."

    Later, I talked to Jonathan about what had happened. He's only 2, but I told him that what that boy had done was wrong and told him he shouldn't do it either.

    I'm sorry about what happened with your girls, though. I hate the little cliquey girls too!

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  69. Anynomous: right above me...needs to hush up and grow up. If you can't sign your name, then don't comment.

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  70. Anonymous7/17/2009

    M3, I admire your honesty to bring up this unfortunate incident here to your blog. If there's one thing I notice in all these years as your reader is that you're a wonderful person who always learns something every single moment to become a better person.

    I do hope that you consider both sides of the comments here because there are some amazing views even thought they are not exactly on your side. And I think those are the ones that take us out of our comfort zone and make us really reflect.

    I agree with everything Lise 3:15pm said. You created the situation, not the mean girls; they didn't want to play with the twins in first place but were too intimidated to say no to you. And I think that as angry as you were, there was no need to tell a 6-year-old girl that she "is going to be alone for the rest of her life". I imagine she doesn't even remember the rest of your sentence because those first words were so powerful and hurtful coming from an adult. I do agree that the girls were rude to your twins but still...

    Anyway, this post and its comments made me think and learn a lot of things so, for that, thank you.

    M.
    (I'm too scared to put my real name in case you say something traumatic to me) :p

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  71. Anonymous7/17/2009

    Dear M3, I've read your blog for years, and find it sweet and inspiring. I wanted to chirp up (as a mother of 5), that I remember from a seminar I attended for Elementary School Teachers, the phrase "victims and bullies come from the same place--- they both wish to control others by their behavior", so I do think it is important that mothers model for their children healthy ways to NOT be a victim. I have taught all of our children to ask "Why would you say such a mean thing?" Or "Why would you ask that question?" I have always reinforced to them that they must act on their OWN conscience. They all truly are some of the most well-liked kids. They are sought after constantly as friends. Because they are loyal, kind, and really intuitive about who to choose for friends. I can honestly say, we've had NO big friend dramas. I have taught them that everyone is teased sometimes, and that is part of life that we must learn to deal with. Just my experience. And, I'll be honest, I cracked up at what you said to those girls (maybe I have a mean streak in me, but I think it may stick in my mind for a long time)

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  72. Mean girls are everywhere . . . even in the preschool set.

    I watched a mean girl elbow Kenna yesterday at a birthday party as she tried to prevent her from getting any candy from the pinata that had just broken.

    I walked up and hissed at the little girl, "You do not touch other people like that."

    She didn't care.

    All you can do is prepare your girls that not everyone in this world is kind . . . and it has nothing to do with them.

    I'm sorrty that happened.

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  73. little girls can be brutal. and somtimes sadly ours can give as good as they get. it is a developmental milestone and they are very young, and they learn from it as long as we dialogue and continue to reinforce the golden rule........treat others as you would be treated.
    i love remembering what my little ones were like at that age thru your blog.........they are still 3 sweet girls even tho' nearly all are teens now

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  74. "I do think it is important that mothers model for their children healthy ways to NOT be a victim."

    I'd just like to note that Ro and Ree seem to have done a great job of not being either bullies or victims all on their own. Maybe this is one of those rare instances where our children know better than we do, and it's us who can learn something from them.

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  75. Anonymous7/17/2009

    Psychohist: I certainly did not intend to imply that Ro or Ree came across as victims. Clearly, they did not. My thoughts were just uh, food for thought. I really had no intention of creating some sort of "controversy". In blog comments. Not my thing. Please accept my thoughts as merely fodder for consideration. Nothing more.

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  76. To the anonymous poster who is the mom of a "mean girl" who said it's not any fun...we need to email each other. I too have had to deal with my daughter being "mean" and saying the same things your daughter has. She was also adopted from China, but was a year old. Her personality was like it then too. I could sure use some support from a mom who understands and maybe we can exchange some ideas. You can email me.

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  77. Heather7/17/2009

    There is a picture book that addresses this situation (older child not wanting to play with younger and hurting their feelings). I think it is called Jamaica Tag Along by Havill.

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  78. Anonymous7/18/2009

    I know that this is a hard hard thing, but, and I hesitate because your peeps will get their collective hackles up, I've got to take you to task for what you said to that 6 year old.

    It was as "mean girl" as her behavior, the difference being she is 6, only a couple of years older than your own girls, and you are a grown woman and telling a young child she is "going to be alone for the rest of her life" is completely over the top.

    So they didn't want your kids playing with them and at the ripe old ages of 4, 5 and 6, didn't have the correct social graces to deal with it - so what?

    Kids are going to get their feelings hurt and I am willing to bet that at some point your girls will hurt someone's feelings, by accident or even on purpose, because they are kids and not small adults and they have to learn and be taught the right and kind way to handle things, and if my child came home from an afternoon at the pool and told me some lady said she was "going to be alone for the rest of her life is she didn't learn to be nice" I would be on the warpath.

    The next time you are tempted to overreact, count to 10.

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  79. Anonymous7/18/2009

    To All the Posters who are so upset with what M3 "said". I think you are forgetting that what happened just before this was that her little girl was SHOVED AWAY by the mean girls. I think that M3 did the best she could in that situation, and it isn't fair to judge her for a split second reaction. I think that we could all sit back, read this story and think of the best way to react.
    As a soon to be adoptive Mom, I can say that if I saw or witnessed anything happening to my child, I would move heaven and earth to protect them. And I sure as hell would not wait a second to protect them.

    And I agree, where in the WORLD were these girl's mother(s)? Who leaves their children alone for that amount of time at a SWIMMING POOL!

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  80. As per usual, I am behind and just logged in to catch up with everyone.....I know that after all these comments there is not much more to say, that hasn't already been said, but I am going to contribute anyway.

    These situations really steam me as well......we have been in a couple of these kind of "Mean Girl" scenarios and at 2 years old, Sarah just has no clue. The question I always ask myself is Where are the parents to these mean kids? At that age, they should not be in a pool, playground, fun center, or anywhere unsupervised. As a parent, if I saw my child treating another child this way, they would be in deep trouble!!

    What pains me the most is that as they get older it is only going to get worse. At almost 40 yrs old, I still come across "mean girls" and it makes me feel uncomfortable and inferior.

    Hugs to you and your sweet girls.......I am also glad you blogged this!!

    Hope you are all doing something fun this weekend!

    Lisa

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  81. Sad to think that in my day and age, my older sisters giving me the boot when they were school age and I was the annoying little one wanting to play with them, it was just normal and not mean at all- now, you've got these girls back talking to a complete ADULT STRANGER. That's what shocked me in this exchange. It seems TOTALLY normal to me that they'd boss Ro and Ree around and then not want to play and boot them out of their group- my older sisters and their friends did this to me all the time- and my mom would steer me to some other activity and tell me to leave them alone- and off I'd go, barely remembering why I was interested in playing w/ them in the first place (and I'll add my sisters are my best friends and did not grow up to be "mean" girls :O))...

    But, what is mind blowing is how they spoke to you M3. If my mother had ever heard of or heard us speaking to any adult that way- holy mother of God. She'd get Dad.

    And that would be that.

    Times have changed, without a doubt. I pray I can put some good armor that is coated in compassion and empathy on my daughter, who is desperately going to need it. I welcome the challenges we will face with her disability, and what I will both learn from her and gain from teaching her. But I know it will not be easy and there will be some tough hurdles to face.

    I commend you on holding your tongue. And not slapping one of them. :O) heehee. Joking aside, I would have been tempted to track down one of their parents, but I suppose that might have just opened another big can of gooey worms.

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  82. "Psychohist: I certainly did not intend to imply that Ro or Ree came across as victims."

    Sorry, I didn't mean to say that you were implying that, and I'm sorry if I came across that way. I agree with your comment. I just wanted to point out that Ro and Ree are the real heroines of this story, which I agree is a separate issue, and I used your sentence as an intro because it was well written and I was too lazy to write a background sentence myself.

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  83. Sherrie In HB7/18/2009

    I am so sorry and I only can tell you "way to go Mom". It was mentioned in someone's comment but I do see alot of the kids behavior is from their parents. I too tried my best to always to tell my girls, to always to be nice to everyone. But in this case, being nice was not on these kids top priority.

    Don't sugar coat your girls from seeing this. It will happen again and again. As my two girls (who are older now) will keep telling me what had happened at school, at their friends' home, etc.

    Still I wish you "hug" and a pat on your head and big shout - Way to go Mom.

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  84. Quick question for Kris 12:02PM. You said "But, what is mind blowing is how they spoke to you M3. If my mother had ever heard of or heard us speaking to any adult that way- holy mother of God. She'd get Dad." and I had to go back to find the sass that these little girls were speaking to M3.. and all I found was the honest answer to a question..." We just want to be alone, we don't want them here." I'm wondering if this is a generational thing, because to me that looks like the correct answer to the question, not talking back or being disrespectful.. the older girls HAD moved because they wanted to be alone.. so what would have been the proper response?

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  85. Hiya M3 ... very interesting post, and since I was also teased as a kid girl dynamics have been on my mind despite the fact that my daughter is only 21 months. I heard a *great* exerpt on NPR about girl bullies and how to manage the dynamics in female cliques ... can't find the book but am currently reading "Odd Girl Out" and "Queen Bees ..."

    Totally understand your reaction and support you 100%. Go mama, and thank you for being honest here on your blog and raising this topic. Since I haven't been there, can (in blissful ignorance!) find logic in the posts highlighting the emotional immaturity of the "big" girls. What they said was blunt and rude but honest. They didn't say something like, "you're dumb and ugly and we don't want to play."

    After watching Miss C chase a 3-year old around the house who dissolved in tears and asked for protection from "that baby" ... I can sympathize with older kids who don't want to play with the little ones but don't know how to handle that appropriately.

    At the same time, I notice and praise the older kids who are good with the little ones. Have approached parents out of the blue to compliment their kids when they are gentle with my toddler or make a point of including her.

    No easy answer here, but good for thought.

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  86. Very interesting post. Lot's of great comments!!!
    I am mom to six ( boys ages 26,24,21,18 and girls ages 6 and 4) I feel like I have seen it all LOL The girls are a lot meaner then the boys!!!
    My first thought when reading your post was ....Uh where are the parents? Didn't this happen at a pool? I would never be far from my 4 and 6 year old at a pool. If I ever saw one of my girls shoving another child they would be in BIG trouble!!!!
    My 6 year old has SID. She is a bit behind socially but very sweet to her classmates and other children. She just wants to be everyone's friend. We were recently invited to our neighbors daughters birthday party. This little girl is the same age as my daughter (both in kindergarten) but they are not in the same class. I am friends with the mother so my daughter got an invite. When we arrived at the party I told my daughter to wish the birthday girl a happy birthday. My daughter went to wish the birthday girl a happy birthday and I couldn't believe what I saw...the birthday girl (who was with a friend) turned to my daughter, rolled her eyes and made a face (as if to say "get away").
    I have been a mommy for 26 years...when someone treats one of my children poorly I have their back. I have been known to say things back to the offender and I have been known to make the offender sorry they were mean...for instance. We are the only people in our neighborhood with a pool...so I invited the neighborhood kids over to swim and left the mean little birthday girl out. Wrong, right...who cares...your mean to my kids...This Mommy moves in : )
    I think you handled it well...I may of asked "Where are your parents" and then I may of let the mom know what a brat her kid was for pushing my babies. Bravo to you!!!

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  87. I enjoyed the frankness of this post. Thanks for sharing this story. I've been through this issue with my daughter many times (beginning at 18 months when she was actually physically hurt by mean kids). Our daughter (3.5 years old) often approaches older kids to play and is often rejected. I'm very much a 'Mama-Tiger' and struggle constantly with how to handle this stuff. Personally, I thought you handled the entire situation wonderfully. I probably would have struggled (very much) with an urge to spray those kids with a water hose. Ha ha.
    Still enjoying your blog after all these years!
    M.

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  88. I'm late to the party here, but...

    First of all, I'm so sorry that your little sweeties were treated like that! Who wouldn't want to play with them?! And, as for what you said in response, I've said things along those lines at school to a few mean girls over the years. Once, I told a student of mine that she had a mean streak. Hey, the truth will set you free.

    I can remember being treated like this as a kid, and I have seen it over and over again since I've been a teacher. What I've learned, and what i tell my students, is that I can't control other people. I can only control how I react to them. I do try to give them some good strategies for dealing with the mean girls, but the best one I have come up with is to walk away and find someone nicer to play with. When girls get older, some of them don't seem to understand that concept and they just continue to try and play with kids who don't want them around. As much as I'd like them all to get along, it's just not realistic.

    Mean girls suck, and they usually grow up to be mean women. Who needs them!

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