The Third Day of Third Grade

I watch you.  I watch you watch them.  The pair labeled your “best friends”and the other one.  They laugh and touch and a little girl gravitational force pulls them together as it repels you.

I watch you.  I watch the jealousy and anger coil up inside you and I hope that it finds release before you snap inappropriately.  You stare unblinkingly with your ice blue eyes and the look is pure hurt because you are left out.

I watch you.  I watch as your new friend, “Well maybe friend,” you’ve said, “but not yet” walks up to you and you don’t even acknowledge her presence.  I talk to her and compliment her sweatshirt and make pleasantries, which you should be doing, but you don’t because you can’t stop staring across the blacktop as your best friends and the other laugh at something.  They are too far away, so we cannot hear what they laugh at, but we can see they are having fun without you.

I watch you.  I watch as the second maybe new friend walks up and you ignore her too.  Opportunities surround you but you can’t see them because you want to be over there with them in their class.  You want the comfort of last year.  You want familiar.  You want to be inside the threesome again and not stuck outside looking in.  The two maybe new friends stand silently ignored and you continue fester until you turn and say, “I told you I’m not popular anymore.”

I want to hurl idiotic phrases at you.  You catch more flies with honey.  Life isn’t fair.  Make new friends, but keep the old.  I want to stop your stare and refocus it on the sweet kids around you.  I want to plaster over your hurt and wounded heart and tell you it will be okay, but I don’t do any of that.  It might not be okay.  You might lash out at your old friends and miss the opportunity for new friends.  You might lose them all.  I wish for a tree to sprout between your class’s line and the other class’s line so that you don’t have to see them having fun without you.  I know it might be a long and lonely year.

I think of Rachel and Stacy 34 years ago on my playground.  I remember wishing for what they had: for the heads close together and the whispers and hand games and true friendship and wondering, “How do they do that?”  I remember longing for what they had, but never finding it.  I watch you and hope the hurt of my third grade isn’t repeated in the next generation with a different pain of loss instead of longing.

I watch you and feel the agony of a mother’s anguish.  I watch you and hope it will be okay.

The bell rings and the pain of everything makes reach for a hug and kiss, needing to be loved too much to remember I’m embarrassing.  I pour my heart into you, because you are loved and you are amazing and you can do this, and then we part.  I watch you.  I watch you walk away alone.

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Third Day of Third Grade

  1. Very powerful because I’ve been there too. The years dull the pain, but you never truly forget the feeling. It’s one of those “wish I’d known then what I know now” situations. Here’s hoping for a successful 3rd grad – for both of you!

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    1. Oh, tell me what your crystal ball says! What do I need to know now? The agony of watching kiddos negotiate social situations is just agony to me, especially since I was so awkward as a kid!

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      1. Sorry – I was speaking as the awkward kid too – rather than a parent with any answers! Unfortunately I think everyone kind of has to figure it out for themselves. I didn’t listen to or believe my Mom’s words of wisdom and your kiddo probably wouldn’t listen to you either – even if you knew the ultimate secret to adolescent happiness!
        My stepdaughter seemed to lead the charmed childhood that I never had – she was popular with lots of friends – I came to see though, that she was just as insecure and unsure of herself as I was at her age.
        Your kiddo will come to find her niche and her tribe. Be patient! It’s only day 3 after all. 🙂

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        1. Bummer. My crystal ball to my own 3rd grade definitely yields no good solutions either. But yay for growing up past awkward kid phase for us, right?!? Today, on day four, she managed to get yelled at in class for chatting with someone, so maybe things are getting better in one way, worse in the other. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and you are right. It’s early. She’ll figure it out.

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  2. I want to say we’ve all been there, but I can’t speak for all. I’ll just say it’s common, especially for girls, I think. I especially like this “I remember longing for what they had, but never finding it.”

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  3. Our lives are filled with defining moments. Some terrifying, some amazing, some painful, some eye opening. Watching our children go through those moments are some of the most heart wrenching times we as parents endure. We often feel the moments like they are our own…and sometimes we write our own experience onto theirs. That’s often where the advice begins to spill out and the attempt to repair things begins. Just remember that listening always trumps advising and hugging always trumps fixing. But, it sounds like you already know that. And good for you for articulating the pain of this moment. Life really hurts some days. I’m so sorry.

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  4. Reading this transported me back to my own childhood and similar hurts. I think we’ve all been there. My heart aches for your daughter.

    I have no advice but as a mom of 8 year old and 12 year old girls, I can relate. Watching my kids navigate social difficulties is way worse than experiencing them myself.

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