Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In the Schoolyard

Every morning when I drop off the child at school, I glance around the schoolyard and watch the kids, remembering when I was that age and what school was like. The child plays on the playground with a mix of kids of all ages-from Grade 1-6. I see the kids she talks about, I see other kids who greet her by name, ones I have never heard of and who are older and I realize, she's getting along fine with most everyone.

And then this morning. She's playing on the playground, trying to go up the stairs to get to the slide. A bigger kid blocks her way, not just her, he blocks the way for a bunch of the littler kids saying they can't come up. I watch. Waiting for my child to start crying or burst into tears or pout or throw a tantrum or come running to me, because that's what she usually does. But instead, she turns around, not so much of a grimace on her face and walks up to one of the supervisors who is already surrounded by a bunch of other kids. One of which is already telling on the bigger boy. My child walks away and waits. The supervisor calls the bigger kid off the playground and talks to him. My child darts up the steps to where she wanted to go in the first place. Not phased even one little bit.

I was proud of her for standing up to the boy in the only way she really could, even if someone else beat her to it. And I was happy the school did something about it. Immediately.

I remember bits and pieces of being that age but I moved around so much as a kid it was hard to latch onto any one child that I could really call my friend. That's the thing, right? At that age, friends come and go. One week so and so is your best friend, the next week, not. Something happens. Minor for sure, because what can a 6 year old possibly do that's so horrific you don't want to be friends anymore? (This is my almost 40 year old self talking. To a six year old, whatever it is, is probably really terrible at the time. Like the friend takes the red crayon and my child wanted the red crayon. That's the shit that can end friendships when you're six.)

I see the cliques forming already. Little gaggles of girls running up to one another, hugging, talking about their clothes or shoes, and staring in judgment at those who pass them by, who might not be up to their standards.

Now this is the stuff that worries me. I know there's nothing I can do about it except teach my own child not be like those kids. Not to judge based on what a person wears or how they talk or how they look. Not to exclude someone without a good reason. To embrace those differences because that's what makes us all special. It would be a pretty boring world if we were all the same.

But the godawful truth of it is I can only do so much. I can hope to shape my child into being a good person, but I am only one person and she is only one child. Not all parents care that much and once the kids get on the playground it's out of our hands. We have to just hope and pray that what we have tried to teach them sinks in and that they don't succumb to the pressure of other kids to be something or someone else.