I wasn’t expecting this to be happening already 😞
Last night my Baby Girl came home from gymnastics team practice visibly upset and on the verge of tears because two girls have been continually bothering her and yesterday it came to a head. L is one of the youngest on the team, so these girls (Let’s call them Frick and Frack) are several grades ahead of her; I don’t know why they would want to pick on a little 7- year-old baby. But apparently they are calling L dumb and stupid, saying her cartwheels are terrible (she can turn them perfectly 😒) and telling the other girls not to be friends with her.
It makes me sad to learn that she is getting her first taste of this so early. I can’t say I was ready to deal with Mean Girls again already. Lord knows I’ve had my share of experiences with them, but most of the terror I received occurred in middle and high school. Elementary school was a relatively tame time, especially the earlier grades. It was, in fact, 5th grade before I experienced this same Queen Bee scenario, and coincidentally, these two girls that are now menacing my baby are also around 5th grade/10 years of age. So I know some of this is part and parcel of growing up, particularly with that age group. But L, she is just not supposed to be there yet.
I suppose the silver lining in this is that it is a beneficial life lesson that she will learn from about how to recognize and value true friendship. And from our Talk tonight, I think she gets it. We had (what I hope was) a good discussion about The Golden Rule and how to be a good friend. She shared how one girl who usually plays with her at practice (we’ll call her Sally the Sheep) instead walked over to her today and haughtily announced that she wasn’t going to talk to her anymore since Frick and Frack told everyone not to. And so she (Sally Sheep) also spent the class teasing, sticking out her tongue and rolling her eyes at L. But there was also a 9 year-old-girl (we’ll call her Sensible Susie) that walked over to L from the larger group, confirmed it true what Frick and Frack was saying, but then said, ” I don’t care, I’m going to talk to you” and proceeded to partner with L the rest of the class. It broke my heart a little when L said “She’s the only one that will talk to me. She’s my only friend” but also made me proud when she concluded on her own that the other girls weren’t acting like anyone she would want to be friends with anyway, and that she preferred the company of someone nice like Susie. Thank you, Susie, for being a bright and shining example to my Baby Girl of what it means to be kind.
As for the others, L told me that while she would do her best to ignore them, ultimately, she wants the coach to make them stop, and she asked if I would say something for her. Of course I will! Mommy will always speak up for you, Baby Girl!
So this week I will be visiting the gym to discuss this situation with the coaches. I don’t need them to “force” the girls to interact and “be nice” to L, but they will leave her alone! While some of this can be chalked up to growing pains, what they will not do is ruin this experience for her. She loves gymnastics and was so thrilled and proud to make the team. So far, she’s performing very well in it, but even more importantly, she simply enjoys it. I don’t want this to get to a point where she dreads going to practice, or is even scared (they are older girls!) so much so that she doesn’t want to participate anymore. She deserves a safe and fun environment in which to enjoy her first team experience. I know I won’t always be able to protect and shield her from all the Mean People of the World, but right now, while she’s only seven, I will do all I can to try.
Aww…I’m sad to hear that Lila is going through this. Extracurriculars are where are children get to build confidence and shine. For it to be a place where people are trying to diminish that is unacceptable. We invest too much into building our kids up to allow them the be shot down. I know you’ll handle thins ugly business. Good Luck. xoxo
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Today was her first day back and I went in and talked with one of the coaches for awhile. She left me with the impression that she is going to handle things, and I’ll allow her the chance to do that before I take it any further. L should be home soon, so we will see how things went!
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Well, this stinks! I immediately wondered what the adults were doing while these older girls harassed your daughter – with all the attention on bullying now especially. Your post has made me think back to how it was when I was little; older girls, particularly in packs, could be very intimidating. It must be very frustrating and angering to see the work you’ve done to support and nurture a confident, happy child be challenged by “outsiders.” But you’re right; she will encounter people like this always.
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Yes she certainly will. But so far this incident seems to be resolving itself, thankfully. The girls are mostly always supervised by the coaches; but there practices are 3-4 hours long! At times they will break into smaller groups on each exercise where the coaches rotate among them, so those are the times that the harassment was occurring. Since I spoke with the coaches, they have had a discussion with the entire team about the behavior that is expected of them and what won’t be tolerated. They didn’t single out L and these specific girls. She’s had two practices since then and she reported back to me that things have improved and they haven’t bothered her anymore! Hopefully this will continue.