Girls can be difficult.
Girls can be mean.
Girls can be catty.
I realize I'm generalizing here. Not all girls are this way, but come on? We all know them. And let's face it, it's rare to see men sitting around gossiping about one another. You don't often find boys excluding each other.
When these things take place, there are usually girls in the mix.
I always wanted girls. I am a girls kind of girl. I could never imagine myself having a boy. So when I had Ainsley, I was in heaven. A sweet precious little girl. But I worry. I worry that I won't be able to stop her from becoming one of the mean girls. But more? I worry that I won't be able to protect her from them.
Last weekend the pool opened. Ainsley spent most of her time with Daddy in the big pool while I played with Freddie in the baby pool. However, at a pool every hour there is a break/adult swim. During this break all the kids rush to the baby pool. Kids that are way too big for the baby pool come splashing through so my young toddler clings to me for dear life.
Aside from the pool in the baby area, there are also some play structures. Climbing apparatus and slides and such. One piece is in the shape of a castle. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how much Ainsley loves anything princess related.
A few girls take over the castle.
Ainsley enters the baby area very excited about the last hour in the pool with Daddy. She tells me all about it, but soon notices the girls in the castle and makes her way over.
I watch, as these girls ban her from "their castle."
My first reaction is to get up and smack these girls. But I refrain. I remember to tell myself that Ainsley needs to be given the freedom to handle these things. I won't always be within ear shot.
Hot tears spring to my eyes behind my sunglasses as I watch a very confused Ainsley walk around the castle. As far as I know, no one has ever told her she couldn't play with them. She doesn't get it. She doesn't at all understand.
After a few minutes, Ainsley begins climbing the ladder again and the youngest (and smallest by the way, Ainsley could totally take her!) of the girls, holds up her hand and says "This is our castle. You are not allowed up here."
Again I stay right on the edge to see what Ainsley does. I don't know if this is the right decision. I want to walk over and rip these brats out of the castle and throw them over the fence, but I wait.
Ainsley looks up at them and in her best mommy voice says "Honey? You need to share."
They ignore her.
Ainsley turns and runs to the slide. She's over it. And soon the whistle blows and all the kids exit to the larger pool again.
I was torn up by this. I've thought about it every day since then and wondered how I wanted to write about it. I've questioned whether I did the right thing or not. I've agonized over discussing it with Ainsley. But she hasn't brought it up, so neither have I.
I want to protect her. I always want to keep her feelings safe. But I won't always be able to do this. I want to raise her to protect herself and her feelings. I also want her to know this feeling, so she refuses to treat someone else that way.
I don't ever want to be one of those moms that's calling other moms insisting that "your child play with mine!" I don't want to be the mom standing on the sideline insisting that my child play a position she doesn't deserve. I don't want my kids to have everything handed to them because I'm insisting on it. I remember those moms. I remember the resentment you feel towards those kids. I don't want that for my family. I don't believe that friendships should be made or grades should be given or spots on a field should be awarded because mom and dad are the loud parents. Urging and persuading others to make accommodations for their kids. I want my kids to know the feeling of making a new friend on their own, earning an A and deserving that spot on a team.
The next time it happens - because it will happen again - I think I'll take a similar route. I may talk to Ainsley about it. Tell her that she has every right to be in that castle even if those girls don't play with her. Right now, Ainsley's pretty used to people telling her what to do and her doing it. I don't think she gets that kids her own age don't really have authority over her. I want her to know that she has power in those situations, and I want her to use it.
I think the next few years will be tough in this area. Feelings will be hurt, but I think there will be lots of lessons learned, by Ainsley and her mommy.