I tend to talk about how great these years are with our kids. There are no more diapers, no more bottles, no more naps to schedule our days around. Our kids get along pretty phenomenally, for real, and road trips are actually enjoyable. Enjoyable! And I’m not even lying! Also: They wipe their own bums!

The hardest part of this stage in our lives (for me) is school. Not schoolwork, or homework, or reading for book club every night. The hard part is the friends.

My kids have pretty great friends. Some are friends that they know from church, others are friends that they’ve met at preschool or school and all of the kids are good kids. By “good” kids, I mean that they are polite and respectful and play fairly. For the most part. There are times where these “good kids” give me grief. It’s when they reject my kids.

It doesn’t happen often but it happens occasionally and when it does it breaks me.

We have an after-school debrief where we talk about what they learned that day, what homework they have and what events are coming up. It also includes the question, “So who did you play with today?” I like to know which kids are investing in my kids and vice versa. I also like to know who their friends are and how the social aspect of school is going.

Yesterday, I heard that Emily didn’t play with anyone at recess or lunch. She wasn’t upset, or crying, she was just stating facts. I asked her what friend A was doing. “She was playing with friend B.” I asked her about friend C, whom she had referred to as her Best Friend last week. “She told me that I couldn’t play with her.” Well, what about friend D? “She was playing with friend C and they didn’t want me to play with them.” I then asked her what she did during recess/lunch.

I didn’t play on the playground. I just stood by a tree all by myself.

She was so matter-of-fact, and so content, that I managed to keep it together. I got her an after-school snack, sent her to play with her brothers and then snuck upstairs to cry it out a little. My baby girl had stood alone.

I had a less-than-stellar elementary/junior high experience. I was picked on for being overweight (I was on crutches in seventh grade for a knee injury and a kid (JASON XXXXXXX) passed me on the stairs and said that I needed crutches to hold me up because I was so fat.) I was also picked on for not being “cool enough.” (I had a group of the “cool girls” invite me to the schoolyard in eighth grade. They then proceeded to tell me that I was ugly and fat and that I should leave town.)

(I did leave town, which was life changing. I moved in with my Dad and Step Mom and found my faith, which led me to Matthew and these three incredible beings that have been placed in my charge.)

My own school experiences make me extra sensitive when one of my flesh and bones is made to feel less that awesome. Thankfully, I have a husband who is more even-tempered that I am. He heard me out and then we had a family meeting. We talked about Emily’s day and reiterated that family comes first. If any one of them found themselves alone, they were to look for one of the others and hang out with them. This worked well last year with the dudes. We also talked about taking care of kids they see who are alone – to reach out to them and ask them if they want to play.

These rough days really are few and far between. Our kids go to a great school, in our pretty fantastic small town, with amazing teachers, and these glitches are a part of little kids learning to operate in the world.

It’s hard, and it sucks, but my kids have a greater advantage over (me, and) many other kids. They have parents who talk to them and who listen to them and who are going to walk them through each and every step. I didn’t have that in my elementary/junior high years. As much as it kills me to hear their occasional tales of rejection, I am so glad that they have Matthew and I as parents. Two geeks/nerds/socially awkward people who get how hard school can be, and who love them so much that they tell us not just the good, but the bad, too. We work through it together.

The tears won’t kill me; they just remind me that love isn’t easy. And they make me thankful that I love enough to cry.

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  1. Carolyn October 4, 2011 12:19 am edit

    That hurts my heart. I know one little girl who thinks Emily is the Greatest Girl Ever….and she’s right. Emily is wonderful! I hope those kinds of days are very very rare in her life!

  2. bethany actually October 4, 2011 12:50 am edit

    Anyone who thinks kids have it easy doesn’t remember being a kid very clearly. When I was in grade 2 (heh, look at me speaking Canadian) I had two close friends, Jenny and Dana. I liked them both and wanted us all to be friends. They both wanted me to themselves and would tell me, “If you play with HER then I’m not speaking to you,” things like that. It was frustrating and stressful. Then one day, they decided they wanted to be friends and didn’t want to talk to me. It was a little hurtful, but mostly a relief because no one was fighting!

    All of that to say, it sounds like Emily was okay with the situation. It’s awesome that you guys talked it over and specifically mentioned finding a sibling or another kid who’s hanging out alone, but it’s also great that Emily was able to just shrug and be okay standing alone by a tree for a while. You know this already, but I’ll tell you anyway: your kids are pretty awesome.

  3. ella October 4, 2011 3:16 am edit

    This is a post from a great mother! it’s so great to read something like that and to be able to relate. Your children are lucky to have you. <3

  4. K October 4, 2011 6:18 am edit

    I agree with what Bethany said.
    Also, I had mostly good experiences with school and friends. I do have one horror story though. In kindergartern there was a girl whom I referred to as my best friend but she moved away at the end of that year. I saw her again at my brother’s soccer game when I was in grade 2 (hehe) and I thought we were friends but she ended up being really mean to me. She made fun of the generic brand shoes that my grandmother had just bought for me and she tied them to the jungle gym while I was hanging upside down. I think I had to take my shoes off and get my mom wearing only socks so she could un-knot my shoes. Very not cool.

  5. alimartell October 4, 2011 6:19 am edit

    that right there? Hardest part of parenting…hands down. The social aspect, the bullying, them possibly feeling ALONE.

    But you are right…your kids and mine have that advantage. We are LISTENING and hearing. And I think that’ll help us all get through these years.

  6. C @ Kid Things October 4, 2011 7:48 am edit

    My oldest is a bit of a shy kid, like me, and I’ve noticed before that he prefers to play by himself. Probably because it’s easier. Still, every day since the start of this school year I’ve been asking who he’s played with or sat with at lunch and he’s told me no one. It breaks my heart to think of my boy alone. So we talked it through and made some changes, and he’s at least been sitting with a friend at lunch. I also make it a habit of asking to make sure nobody’s been mean to him throughout the day. You’re right, navigating the school years is hard.

  7. Charmedone17 October 4, 2011 7:56 am edit

    So tough! Reading about it makes my heart hurt too. It’s happened to my daughter also and other than giving her a hug and talking to her about it what else can we do? I’ve talked to her also about trying to play with different kids and not always sticking to the one same girl so she’s always got someone to play with, because that one girl she does stick to like glue is so fickle, one day she plays with her other days no, and she actually has the nerve to tell her if she plays with friend A she cant’ be friends with her then. Unbeliveable! At the age of six!!

  8. Sizzle October 4, 2011 9:11 am edit

    This says it all: “The tears won’t kill me; they just remind me that love isn’t easy. And they make me thankful that I love enough to cry.”

    It’s so hard to love and so damn worth it.

  9. Home Sweet Sarah October 4, 2011 10:46 am edit

    Aww, I love the unity you guys have! This is what makes me most excited about having more kids (someday.) We’re all about Team W in our house; in fact, my husband and his brothers have matching Unity tattoos and will defend each other to the end. Makes me excited to bring our kids up in the same way. (Minus the tattoos, hopefully ;-)

    Also, for what it’s worth, there was a guy in junior high who called me George Washington because I had a rather unfortunate haircut (I was also chubby but that is neither here nor there, just something I battled with at that time.)

    Anyway, my 10 year high school reunion was a couple weekends ago and although I didn’t go, I was a part of the Facebook group for it and got to read all the ridiculous posts.

    This fellow in particular was a little…challenged…when it came to very basic spelling, grammar, etc. in his posts. Although I always knew he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and although I won’t say I felt vindicated that he was CLEARLY, umm, a total idiot, I must say, it was kind of nice seeing that one bully, whose only defense in junior high was that I “looked like George Washington” really hasn’t advanced much past that.

    So, all that to say, you’re raising these kids right and with confidence and one day, while they’re well-adjusted, smart members of society, there will be these little jerks elsewhere who can barely string two sentences together.

  10. Nolita October 4, 2011 11:15 am edit

    This post made me cry (at work, mind you). Hate the thought of your little girlie being made to stand alone. Your beautiful children are blessed to have you as parents. My little girl (9) is having a hard time with the social thing at school and it has been made worse (and better) by the addition of 2 more kids to the mix. It hurts my and my husband’s hearts to imagine our kiddos having it hard at school because of other kids and we always emphasize family. We want our kids to have good memories of school and elementary school seems so young to start that h.s. bs, ya know? Your little darling girl will be fine and will be armed to handle the rough patches in her life as a result of these experiences .I know mine will too, but that won’t stop the tears (we are only human). Blessings to your family!

  11. Amanda October 4, 2011 11:21 am edit

    Awww. We have times like this too. It is my goal to instill them with enough confidence so that these times have less effect on them

  12. Elaine October 4, 2011 1:03 pm edit

    You are SO right. They have such a loving and open family and that’s what counts the most.

    I also know what the teasing is like and it’s NO fun.


  13. Kerri Anne October 4, 2011 1:15 pm edit

    You can tell Emily that I would happily hang out with her every day. Because: true story.

  14. Mrs. Wilson October 4, 2011 1:27 pm edit

    I’m so with you. I had a rough time in elementary school/jr high as well. I faked sick often, just so I could avoid the bullies for a while. I also didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. My kids do. Noah had an easy school experience and doesn’t really get it – not that he was one of the cool kids necessarily, he just had a great group of friends and never once faced a bully. He had it GOOD.

    Kaylie’s had some issues with friends and has also stated that some recess/lunch times were spent by herself by the door to the school waiting for the bell to ring. I hate that. She doesn’t have any siblings at her school (yet), but she definitely has us to come home to, where we listen to her and encourage her and love her. I’ve told her the same thing, too – to look for a kid by themselves and maybe make friends with that kid.

    Having kids is like wearing your heart outside yourself, isn’t it?

  15. Nicole October 4, 2011 1:38 pm edit

    How com

  16. Madge October 4, 2011 2:46 pm edit

    I’m working through some school issues right now and my heart aches with you! I thought as the kids grew it would get easier. No way! I think about how each of my kids is getting through their day and hoping that I can be everything they need when they seek comfort.

    I’m glad that Emily wasn’t upset over the events of the day. It sounds like she’s taking your love with her to school.

  17. Hannah October 4, 2011 3:18 pm edit

    Yep, those moments are definitely the hardest when it comes to parenting. MUCH harder than sleepless nights and crying babies and potty training and, well, everything else. HUGS!! xx

  18. JenniferW October 4, 2011 3:34 pm edit

    Man, you and Leah both had posts that hit me in the pit of my stomach today! Sigh. My girl started preschool and it just breaks my heart when she comes home saying she played with the teacher bc the kids didn’t want to play with her. She’s THREE. My sweet baby. Thanks for the gentle reminder that she will ALWAYS have me no matter what punk kids come along.

  19. Rebecca October 4, 2011 4:39 pm edit

    Thanks for writing this so beautifully… I had a similar school story to you only I was on crutches in grade 6… And the kids are having a similar school story too right now… Love reading your posts. xo

  20. Rhi October 4, 2011 5:11 pm edit

    UGH. This is one of the things that scares me about motherhood. I was picked on so badly in school and it hurts me to think that the same might happen to my child one day.

  21. Ashley October 4, 2011 10:06 pm edit

    I wore very similar school shoes as you, it was hard. I was ok being a bit of a loner, because I’m independent like that but the ridicule still hurt, the teasing still brought tears and I always heard the whispers. Now that I have children, I worry for them, I stress over kids and the way they are treated, I’m already ready to kick some butt (no matter who’s it is, as long as they can wipe it themselves) and it’s only going to get stronger. But they will be fine, I was fine, you were fine – God’s got it under control, I trust that. For now though, it hurts waaaay worse now that it’s them instead of me.

  22. hillary October 5, 2011 12:47 pm edit

    Oh lady, I’m sorry you’re hurting for your girl. Kids can be so horrid. I love that you and Matthew are teaching your kids to not only take care of each other, but also to take care of the other kids on the playground. Emily is strong and you guys are obviously doing something right if her playground rejection affected you more than it did her. xoxo

  23. Michael October 6, 2011 3:25 am edit

    Your kids are learning how to play with others, which is an important lesson to them. They are self-sufficient, expected to depend less on you and Daddy, when they get older. By the time they grow up and reached adult age, time to leave on their own…maybe. +

  24. Danica October 6, 2011 8:37 pm edit

    Awwwww. You’re a good mommy.
    We taught Adora in grade 1 to stand by one of her friends who was being socially ousted and bullied and showed her how to refuse to play with any group who was leaving someone out.
    We were a little worried that this would put a target on her back, but we thought it was important to raise her with a proactive attitude, not only a defensive one. She was indeed singled out by the bullies for her actions, but with her parents and her teacher and her good friends standing by her side, we were able to squelch it quickly. Three years later, Adora is one of the most popular kids in school, always works to connect everyone and purposely seeks out the unpopular kids and includes them. I am so amazingly proud.

    Grace, on the other hand, can be very blunt and doesn’t take any flack from anyone and can be quite argumentative and often finds people don’t want to be around her because she’s so rammy. This, we’re still working on. I like your idea about family coming first. I will get Grace to seek Adora out on the playground when she needs to. :-)

  25. Loukia October 7, 2011 1:36 pm edit

    Oh A. How heartbreaking that must have been to hear that. I too would have acted the same way as you – calm and cool and held together until I could go to the other room to cry a little. I hate that. Yesterday my son told me he walked alone during the school’s Terry Fox run, and that made me sad. He seemed okay, though. And I know he has good friends, and that this was just one incident, but these school years, man, they can be very painful. I was bullied a bit in middle school, told my boobs were too big, called names, beat up, the works. I see my son now in school happy, with friends, loving school, and I hope nothing changes for him. I also teach him how important it is to be nice to everyone. And when he little brother goes to school next year, I will remind them to play nicely together as well.
    Your kids are so cute, and it must be nice to know that they’ll always be there for each other at home and also at school!

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