In second grade, at the age of 7, my daughter came home from school in tears. That was a first.
She said a kid, whose name I had only heard in passing before, told her she couldn't play with her unless she stopped playing with her other friends. My daughter didn't want to do that, but she also wanted to play with this other kid. And so began a months-long challenge and lesson in friendship, kindness and empathy.
We talked about how important friends are. That real friends don't ask you to drop other friends. That friends come and go in our lives.
But what I talked about with my friends was the fact this drama was happening at 7.
I remember being teased, relentlessly, in junior high. I didn't learn to laugh at myself until I was an adult and I think that would have helped. My skin is thicker now but not by enough. Is the kid drama, the teasing, manipulating and bullying starting earlier in life? Or is it just how I remember it?
We talked about giving the kids tools and words they need to handle situations like this. We can't go to school with our kids, but we can help them. We can help them be kind and smart and interesting. Navigating the path of childhood to adulthood is tough, but hopefully we can make it a little easier.
Parenting is hard, we're all just doing the best we can.