Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is My Child an Outcast?

This has been a tough fourth grade year for my Emma. She was so excited at the beginning of the year to be in class with her BFF. They had never been in class together before and had always wanted to. Their wish came true.

I, on the other hand, was apprehensive. This "BFF" that she has been friends with since she was two years old has always treated Emma poorly. She is more aggressive and bossy toward her, tends to not be fully truthful when faced with something she's done to be hurtful and is hot and cold on whether she's "in the mood" to include Emma in her games. To me, this is not what a best friend is all about.

The beginning of the year started out ok, but then slowly things started to change. A few mean statements, a few moments of exclusion. . .then Emma's BFF was transported to the top of the cool girl hierarchy and Emma was painfully alone at the bottom. Now all the kids treat her that way.

The dynamics of the class are tough. There are only 8 girls and as I mentioned in a previous post, they are ALL very good at sports. They all love fashion and music. They make fun of anything they consider "babyish" like High School Musical or Hannah Montana. They watch what you wear and how often. They watch what you eat and make sure that if it's something different or weird that the whole table knows about it. They fight among themselves frequently and treat one another poorly.

Emma doesn't fit in with that group at all. Her BFF has done everything possible this year TO fit in, even if it means stepping on Emma in the process. Now the group of girls has formulated some sort of pact to not let Emma join them in any activity. First if was gym class. There is an even number of girls so when they have to partner up she always ends up with someone, but if they have to go in groups of three - that's when no one will let her in. Then it was in class when they had to form groups to read a play aloud. No one would let her join their group and actually had to be forced by the teacher to let her in. Then yesterday it was in music. They were playing a game and the music teacher announced groups of four. So Emma went to the group of girls with three that included her BFF and was told she couldn't join them by the "leader" of all the mean girls. Emma ended up in tears and the teacher did nothing to correct the mean girl behavior, instead she put Emma in an already formed group of four. She said to Emma at the end of class she was sorry, she knew how girls could be to each other.

It's hard to believe in third grade Emma was given the award by their teacher as "Most Confidence." Third grade had different girl drama. That year she had a friend in class with her that was very possessive and over-bearing. She wouldn't let Emma play with other kids without a fight. She did everything possible to stand next to her in line and sit next to her at lunch. She also did things to tease her relentlessly, like hide her pencils, move her chair to the other side of the room, take her apple from her lunchbox and play catch with it. . .in other words it drove Emma crazy and we were so glad to be out of that dynamic.

But I think I would prefer possessiveness to exclusion any day. At least with possessiveness the problem is that you are liked "too much" instead of not liked at all.

Emma has no problem making friends. In fact she has a ton of girlfriends and has sleepovers and playdates every weekend. I keep reminding her that she has friends who treat her right, who care about her and who will always be there for her. It's just that these friends are not in her class this year.

What can I do to help her through this?? I sent a note to the teacher yesterday and informed her of all the recent episodes. I asked if she has noticed anything and also if she sees any reason that Emma is treated this way. I told her that we are just going to try our best to make it through the next two weeks without anymore tears and that next year she really needs to be in a class with a better dynamic. I named the worst perpetrators so that the teacher could make sure that she was not in class with them again. At this point I don't care who her teacher is. All I care about is who is hopefully NOT in class with her. This includes the BFF who has not stuck up for her or tried in anyway shape or form to include her. In fact it was her who initially wouldn't let her join in gym class back in December. Maybe I'm being harsh, but I really feel she is at the root of the problem. She established her dominance over her by letting the other kids see that even the BFF could exclude her and treat her poorly. The rest of the class is following her example.

Then when no one's watching the BFF invites Emma for a sleepover.

Two weeks of school left. . .


  1. I linked here from Mamapedia, which was sent to me by an old friend from high school. I usually hit the delete button right away because from the time it started popping into my mailbox I have been secretly calling it Mamaparanoid Daily. Reading this bit about Emma and her troubles has reinforced my ideas the kinds of women who consume and digest that blog.
    How do you know so much about the little daily things happening in Emma's classroom? Are you one of those moms who just can't stay away? Always there at every turn for every classroom event? You know what that looks like to the other kids? Is your obsession with every little detail in Emma's social life part of the reason her social life sucks?
    The kids in Emma's class sound like little monsters. They are the way they are because their parents are usually quite similar. Cruel and fake. Why are you so worried that Emma doesn't fit in with fake, cruel children??? You should use this time to teach this young girl the most important lesson we need to learn...You have to be who you are, without fear, without the wanting to fit in and despite what others around you think, do or say.
    Stop whining about it to the teacher, that make it worse for Emma. Stop enforcing Emma's fear about fitting in and teach her something useful from all this. And most of all stop over-parenting!!

  2. Yup, in answer to your post title. Yup.

    We should talk...

  3. If you read future posts regarding this subject, you'll see that the BFF is the real issue here. My daughter does not have trouble fitting in. She has a ton of friends. The phone rings off the hook. She has multiple sleepovers, playdates and invites to parties. The problem has been with this ONE friend who has done everything in her power to destroy Emma's self-esteem and bully her. She created a hostile enviroment in the classroom this year. It was a horrible situation that I hope you never have to go through. Her teacher verifies that she is not an outcast, that her social skills are fine. She verified that the problem lay with her "friend." She agreed (at the end of the year) it was a toxic frienship. The reason I know so much about it, is because she comes home and tells me - something that I value and cherish. The minute our kids stop telling us what is bothering them, is the minute we should be concerned. So many issues came and went at the beginning of the year that I didn't do anything about - I let them slide. Another friend had gone off on this particular little girl (witnessed by me) for being so mean and rude to her daughter and the friend's mother was so angry and upset about that situation that I did keep my mouth shut for several months. I didn't go to the teacher or speak up. But enough is enough. Kids shouldn't be allowed to get away with this kind of behavior that results in someone wanting to be home schooled versus putting up with it anymore. We need to all listen to our kids and speak up when issues arise. If you read future posts you'll see that we have recently ended this toxic friendship and the drama from our lives has completely EVAPORATED. Everyone is happy and at peace. Emma can be herself around her true friends without a moment of worry or backlash. She's free from lies, shuns, insults, mean spirited teasing, physical and emotional abuse. Life is good.