Drama Tugging my Heart Strings

7 02 2011

Having patience with my three year old at bedtime is tough… and it was when my six year old was three. But I have to say the phase we’re going through now with Ellie (the six year old) is really hard on me. I keep trying to figure out how much to intervene, how much to stay out of the way, how to not control everything, yet how to guide my child and her friends in the right direction. I struggle with worrying too much and worrying not enough. This worry thing isn’t uncommon for me, a battle I fight with myself and ask for God’s help and the grace of others every day. Sometimes I think I want a solution, but I know there never will be one, so I keep trying to convince myself I need to figure out a way for me to cope in a healthy way… rather than let it eat away at me and eventually my daughter and any other girls who come in her path.

We have a neighbor girl who is about 1.5 years (one grade level) older than Ellie. The neighbor girl arrived to our neighborhood almost a year ago now, from China, and plopped right down in the house directly across from us. There are no other elementary or preschool age children on our street and so of course they became instant friends. And it honestly has been a friendship that has caused me stress from day one. Initially the stress was just street crossing fears — don’t get hit by a car please! — and now it is more dreading when the little girl comes over because every encounter seems to end in the two of them disagreeing about what to do together, so they both get their feelings hurt. As a result one girl lashes out making in-your-face hurtful comments and threats, and the other bottles up her hurt, runs away crying, and is afraid to communicate her feelings in words. Every. Single. Time. They. Play. And yet they insist on playing again and again and again. 
The really tough days for me are when a third child (especially a girl) gets in the mix… because they get caught in the middle and end up having an even bigger fight. 
I can vaguely recall having  interactions like this in my younger childhood. Of course, that time was also coupled with my parents having a rough marriage and divorcing. I’m pretty sure I was that ‘cry and run away’ child. So you can easily guess which child is mine in the description above. It makes me wonder what about how I live my life now affects how she deals with her friendships. I’m sure there is a good measure of nature vs. nurture theory where she is simply born with particular personality traits and cry and run is a part of that.
 
I’ve noticed recently in the past few months that while I let the other child know her comments are hurtful, I have told my child it really isn’t helpful to cry and run away and have tried to change her behavior. In all of that I’ve also come to realize that if I want her to change… then I have to change first. The problem with my changing is not easy to figure out. Perhaps those of you who know me can help and point the obvious to my ignorant self! 
I’m guessing it has to do with how I perceived others viewing me… because she is huge on wanting others to approve of her every action. She is a woman of high self-expectations like her mother. Perhaps there is something in me trying not to have high expectations for how she  and others handle their friendships and letting them figure it out on their own. The part where I get stuck when trying this is when they come to me in a disagreement – Ellie claiming her feelings have been hurt because no one listens to her and the other one saying I don’t know why she is so upset. Sometimes the unknown is genuine but often I can tell their was some intentionality in the words said or the action taken. And after too many of those, I send the friend back. Not because they can’t handle it , but because I can’t handle it anymore (code for I have lost control). And sometimes she gets sent home becaus Mama Bear (Me) doesn’t want to start yelling. 
I’ve decided the best two things I can do about this now is pray asking God for guidance and be aware of my actions, words and the expectations I am setting for Ellie. Also blogging helps me get these thoughts out of my mind so I can sleep.
With that, good night. 🙂
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