My daughter and her best friend attend the same school. The best friend is actually new to the school so I can understand her relying on my daughter for support and for help integrating into the school yard. My daughter started at her new school mid-term, so she knows what it’s like to be dropped into a new environment among already established friendships.
I’m lucky my daughter has such a friendly personality. She has always been inclusive and full of empathy when it comes to others. When she started junior kindergarten she was the one including new kids into the playground games, even though she was new herself.
So I didn’t have any concern about her helping her best friend feel welcome in the new environment. Actually I was a little concerned she would end up abandoning her new school friends to ensure her best friend wasn’t left on her own. We had many conversations about playing with friends in moderation or playing games to include everyone, not forgetting her other friends.
It’s been a few months and things have been going pretty well. We did have an incident with one of her new school chums, but it was all a misunderstanding. Everything was fixed with a five-minute conversation. As expected, friends have their differences. They have good days and bad days. Even as adults we go through that with our friends and family, that’s to be expected in a growing, changing relationship.
Then one nigh I picked up a message from my daughter’s best friend’s mom, who happens to be a good friend of mine. The mom was worried about how the two girls were playing or rather not playing. The next day I had a conversation with the mom, to hear her side of the story. It seems the best friend feels my daughter isn’t playing with her anymore and is actually being mean ‘if you don’t do it my way you can’t be my friend.’
Okay, I was a little surprised by the comment. I think the problem is my daughter has started getting back into playing with the rest of her friends and the best friend isn’t very keen on sharing. And the best friend is use to getting what she wants in other situations. But I agreed to talk to my daughter. I know with her siblings my daughter can be a little commanding when it comes to play and how things are supposed to happen.
So we had the conversation. My daughter confirmed the problem was more about the best friend having to share her time with my daughter and not liking it. I thought everything was fine. Until the next day, after school, my daughter’s teacher wanted to speak with me.
It turns out the best friend’s mom, my friend, reported to the teacher that my daughter was bullying her daughter in the playground. You read that right BULLYING! We’re talking about my happy, inclusive, trying to keep everyone happy, seven-year-old daughter. Now sure I may be a bit biased and yes seven-year-old girls aren’t immune from becoming bullies, but this was insane. My daughter wasn’t being abusive, either physically, verbally or emotionally. She wasn’t intimidating or turning kids against her so-called best friend. She wasn’t behaving like the TTC, now that’s a bully. The whole accusation was ridiculous.
I don’t know what bothers me more, the fact that my daughter was accused of being a bully or that my friend, someone who’s known my daughter since she’s started school, could make the accusation. I expected the best friend to make a fuss about my daughter’s playing with other kids. We’ve grown use to this girls blatant manipulation of the adults around her. The fact that my friend would be so blind to think her daughter didn’t plan any role in what’s been going on just floors me.
I know I have to address this with my friend but I’m so bothered by it. When I dropped my son off at lunch I noticed my friend and her daughter arriving at school. I found myself hurrying out of the playground for fear of what I would say. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty quiet and easy-going. It takes a lot to get me riled. But this whole thing has left me with an awful pit in my stomach. And my feelings aside, how do you think my daughter feels knowing her best friend and her best friend’s mom think she is so awful to resort to calling her a school yard bully!
I know I’m going to have to confront the mom, my friend, about this. I’m not looking forward to it at all. And even when it happens, even if we end up shaking hands and trying to put this black moment behind us, I can’t help but think our friendship will be changed forever. And I feel awful.