Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The mean bratty girl - or how it's wicked hard to let your kids run their own lives

Jess is off to summer camp - it's at the local JCC and it's her first time going. And it's going really well, she loves it. Trust me - she really does. We battled for literally months about going to kindergarten and there's been none of that. She's happy to go each morning, sunshiney delighted to come home. The first day there, she had an accident. Very unusual, but she was trying to take off her wet bathing suit and couldn't make it to the potty in time. And there was a girl who said "EWWWWW - I'm telling!" and mortified my poor girl. Since then, she's just been bugging Jess, cutting in front of her in line, not letting her play, etc. It's not like a campaign of terror or anything, because Jessie really doesn't seem to be all that bothered by it. Just every now and then, she mentions it to me casually. We've talked about it - and I recommended that she ask her camp counsellor for help if the "mean bratty girl" (because that's how she's known around here :-) is bothering her.

Yesterday, I sent her off with spray sunblock for kids. I labelled it, by scrawling Jessica Cohen on the top and fully expected that it'd come home with her last night. But it did not. And when I asked her what happened, she said that the mean bratty girl hid it. She overheard her talking about hiding a banana boat sunblock with Jessica's name on it on the climbing thing. Jess has a very active imagination, and has certainly made stuff up in the past. She's totally not above lying to make a story better (or to create a story where none exists, on one notable occasion, she made up a story about a little boy named Trevor in her class who was mean to her and both she and Trevor were punished, but when I contacted her teacher to find out about why Jessie had been punished, her teacher told me that Jess had never been in trouble and there was no child named Trevor in either her class or the other kindergarten class) but I don't know that she knew the name of the sunblock, I've certainly never referred to it as "banana boat." This leads me to believe that she did overhear some bratty little girl talking about stealing her stuff and hiding it.

What's a mom to do? Do I storm in this morning, demanding that this miserable little brat be punished for bullying my child? This is my instinct - but I'm intentionally holding back. One of the reasons is that Jessica suggested that she tell her camp counsellor that she lost it, so that way she won't get the brat into trouble, and the brat won't retaliate against her. Jess is being very adult and in control about this - doesn't appear to be all that upset, although what she's telling me is making me want to beat the other kid up for her.

So I'm stepping back. Keeping a close, careful eye on the situation - but not interfering. Because in the end, Jessie is the one living in that world, at summer camp, and I should follow her lead when she appears to have it all under control. It's killing me though - to let her fight her own battles, to not step in and fix everything for her. Intellectually, I know I'm doing the right thing, but it's definitely not easy...


Marc said...

I have to hand it to you - this is way more complex a social interaction than I ever had at that age. I guess it's just different being a boy. I remember in 5th grade there were three other boys who took my hat to play "keep away". The first day they did it, I chased my hat around while they tossed it from person to person and they had a grand old time. The second day, the same thing. The third day, I learned the trick - don't chase the hat, CHASE THE KID. I chased the one with the hat. When he threw it to the next kid, expecting me to change direction, I just kept running into him and tackled him to the ground. I climbed on top of him and held him down by the throat with my left hand, while beating his face with my right, until the other two gave me back my hat. Then I let him up, told him "don't take my @#$%^ hat any more", and he said "OK". Then we were all friends for the rest of the year, and all of 6th grade, too.

I don't know that this is good advice to give to a 6 year old girl.

Melissa said...

Just as an update - the mean, bratty girl has been transferred to another class. Her camp counselor realized that this little brat was being wretched and switched her out of the group. Very pleased with this, feel vindicated for standing back and letting Jess handle it herself.