I had a small list of things I wanted to touch base on next week all lighthearted and fun, but alas, I find myself here before all of you seeking some advice.
The girls started the day jazzed for their first sleep over friend, their cousin Amber. I don't think I can even count how many times they requested a time check this morning. Finally, she arrived and we set about having a fun-tastic day. Things went swimmingly at first, as they usually do. Eventually the tide turned and it did so in a way that I have been observing more and more over the last few months. I suppose being home now has allowed me the opportunity to be more present.
Amber wanted to play with Addi. Just Addi. ....Ouch....
At first my anger flared a little (as I said, I had watched this before) and I did what I thought was best at the time and marched us all back inside. If we couldn't all play nicely together outside, then maybe it was time for a change of activity.
But is was only moments after moving inside that I had Lili sobbing in my lap again. I asked her what was wrong, already dreading the answer, and she looked right at me with her puffy red eyes and tear streaked face and said, "I think Amber came here to only play with Addi. They don't want me to play with them". Right then, my heart broke in a million little pieces. I know that feeling and now to top it off I know the pain of being the ineffectual mother- a completely helpless role. I don't know that there is any feeling worse than being a mother unable to take away the suffering of her child.
I know, I know, it isn't my job to prevent these things from happening. Happen they will. But I always thought I'd in one way or another have the power of magic kisses. To be able to say just the right thing to make things a little better. But all I had for this stricken, lonely young girl was a mumbled "I'm so sorry" and a hug. Nothing that made it feel any better. Nothing that made her feel wanted. Nothing that made her feel less alone amongst her peers.
And after I managed to comfort her I was left with the fact that this was a situation I clearly didn't know how to handle. After all, Lili has had this problem for some time now. We first heard about it at daycare when one of the children refused to play with Lili because she didn't like her dress or her hair wasn't cute enough or she couldn't run fast enough, etc. Eventually we changed daycare and assumed it was behind us. But at the next daycare home we saw the same dynamic setting up- Addi was in and Lili was out, left to play with the younger kids/babies. This continued dynamic eventually led to us searching out a daycare center where the girls had options upon options of kids to play with and where no one ever had to be left out. I heard no more about it.
That is until I started staying home and began to observe it when we went to Kindergym or the mall and played with strangers or when we went elsewhere and played with friends. Always the same; Addi's in and Lili's out.
I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what it is. Is it personality traits- Addi is very "go with the flow", though Lili never seems to disagree with a friend and never is rude. Is is just something as simple as their looks- Addi has longer hair and dresses more girly most days. But then it occured to me that it didn't really matter why. After all, I'm not even entertaining the idea of changing one thing about Lili. She is the most affectionate, empathetic, sweet and compassionate young girl. She is genuinely amazed by life and loves to share her discoveries and is incredibly smart. No, she is definitely not the issue and changing her is not an alternative. I mean, just look at her...
The issue is how do I help her (and perhaps her sister some day) deal with these feelings of exclusion? They've always had a built in playmate they've never had to share. How do I teach them the value of alone time? How do I teach them the importance of including others? How do I teach them to pick themselves up and hold their heads high after rejection? Especially when the rejection is repeated? How do I teach them that self worth is not based on being included in every game? These are the questions I need help with.
I know that I can simply change the activity and find a game or something that everyone can play. That I can better plan sleepovers in the future, etc. But it really isn't that simple. If you've ever been the kid (or even grown up) that has felt excluded, different, less than, well then you know what I mean. Those things, those feelings are still there even once the activity has been changed and if you're smart like Lili is smart than you know that their hand was forced and your sadness still lingers.
I spent a couple years in therapy during school to learn to counteract those demons inside my head that told me everyone was laughing at me, that I wasn't good enough or that I was too different. I don't want that for my daughters. So how do I prevent it?
So, mothers of multiples, multiples yourself, former fat kids, nerds, dweebs, loners, mothers & fathers of kids who are bullied or former kids that were bullied, hell, maybe even a reformed bully or two please send me some words of wisdom. I need them today.