Saturday, March 23, 2013

School classmates' parties, cliques and mean girl behaviour

So remember the huge dilemma about the class parties and whether we should go or not?
Since the kids were fine with just the invitee attending, I thought we'd at least go to these two and see what the lay of the land is.

I got a "please could you rsvp" note one Friday morning when I dropped off the kids so I quickly sent an sms to say I'd definitely RSVP by Sat but D and I need to sort out logistics for babysitting Kendra.
She immediately said, "bring the other child" and I said "that's very sweet of you but really, it's not necessary - these party places charge a fortune per child" but she said that it was one price for unlimited kids so please to bring Kendra.
So I did.

(We also had to take two gifts which I loved because my shelf is emptying. Yes!)
I braved the unknown of lots of parents and kids and took the babies BY MYSELF last Sunday afternoon.
We found our way there just fine but we got hellishly lost coming back (a 15-minute drive ended up taking us 50 minutes to get back) and yes, I was totally frazzled.
And so this week, when it just seemed like we were going a new way, the kids say, "are we lost because that policeman gave Mummy the wrong directions". Yes, he did but that's another story for another day... I felt more comfortable leaving the policeman than when I was getting directions from him. Yes!
Nevertheless, the party was lovely - the facilities were nicely spread out, lots of good food but we'd just had lunch and I had a few nice conversations with three parents. The host mother is also a twin and was just lovely.
It's so interesting that the cliques exist everywhere you go!
How do you deal with cliques?

I just ignore them!
You could see who the family and "proper friends" were and then there were the parents of the classmates.
I felt like one parent was genuinely friendly, and the others were friendly but kind of putting up with me (eek!).
The one warmed up once she heard we went through IVF (she's been through 13!) but still very cautious.
That was party 1.

I emailed the mother some pics and asked her if she'd be at party 2. Probably not due to a funeral...but she said "we need to have a coffee even if we don't make it to the party". So that will be nice.
(pics to follow but if you're a facebook friend, the one of the kids pulling funny faces against a gorgeous yellow door was taken at that party - worth it just for that pic of a typical 3-year-old)


Party 2 today was closer to our house. We had some thundershowers during the party so I had some gorgeous grey skies :)
I'd met the mother last week so she looked happy to see us.
And two of last week's parents were there again. Well, there were more from last week but the others didn't even bother to smile and say hi even though we all saw each other last week so there is that.
What is it with people? Will it kill you to smile and say hello?!
I spoke in depth to the one parent (he's gay and he was telling me about their difficulty with their adoptions) so that was really nice.
Another parent also chatted to me and told me even though all these people invite the class, she most assuredly will not be doing that :) A real straight shooter!
This time D came with us and I saw him also chatting to a few people. Although of course, he couldn't care less about connecting with these parents :)

My thoughts on the parties so far...
  • Get to check out the other kids (I finally met a little boy, C, who is teaching my son about fingers in bums and other such disgusting behaviour! We will not be going to his party!) and their mothers
  • Get to inwardly glow when your kids are well behaved and don't have meltdowns
  • Getting to give gifts and teach the kids generosity
  • Having something to bribe the kids with "if you don't rest nicely, you won't be going to the party" ZZZZZZ
  • Meeting a few nice people

  • Awkwardness when people don't seem to engage in conversation, even just small talk
  • Trying to take photos and have decent conversations at the same time
  • Time, time, time
So the sad thing is there are two sets of parents I really like but my kids are not keen on their kids, or vice versa.

And what about all the mean girl behaviour among the 3 - 4-year-old crowd? By the way, I know it's both boys and girls but the girls are just more catty... I even saw this at my friend's kids' party with her one kid against Connor. My poor boy's little face was too sad! I'm also well aware that my kids may be the mean kids at some point; I haven't seen signs of that yet.

this is Connor giving me a smile - and I don't even say SMILE, I say just look at the camera

My heart breaks into little pieces when one of mine tells me about so-and-so who said they don't like them and don't want to play with them.

Today I chatted to one boy and said, "are you in the same class as Connor?"

Boy Yes

Me Do you play with Connor

Boy No

Me Why not?

Boy shrugs

So have you had to deal with mean girl behaviour? What are your tips and tricks?

Today I told Connor at least he has a best friend already in Kendra but who knows how long that's going to fly/
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  1. Lesley11:42 pm

    Your comment - 'What is it with people? Will it kill you to smile and say hello?' made me chuckle. Couldn't have put it better myself. A couple of summers back we all went to a CHRISTIAN festival in England, it was a great festival - but all the campers were unfriendly, it was like being on the Tube - no one would look at you for fear that you may talk to them or encroach on their personal space! Sam and I made a pact that we would talk and smile regardless ; ) we took our icepicks out with us and just chipped away at the frostiness : ) we MADE people engage with us while they were in the toilet queue in their p.j's, lol.

    As for the 'mean girl' behaviour, oh dear me, that has been hard. My eldest daughter has had a hard time with what can only be described as verbal abuse from a girl who called herself a friend, but was anything but. There has been a lot of good come out of it though - we had lots of talks about what friendship is, boundaries, self respect and character. I can already see her growing in understanding, confidence and setting good boundaries in her life. I wish i'd learnt these lessons when i was young.

  2. First...some beautiful pictures! LOVE the one of K crossing that bridge. She looks SO GROWN, though! Wow!!! :)

    I'm glad you've had a relatively good experience at both the parties. I've only been to one party outside our multiples group, but I can very much identify with your pros and cons.

    It never, ever, ever ceases to amaze me, those people who don't even smile and nod and make some kind of chit-chat. I cannot fathom being next to someone at the punch bowl and not saying hello!!! I don't know if you remember the experience I had at the girls' open house, made a really good point, questioning if I come across as too forward...and maybe that makes someone who is maybe on the bubble of insecurity themselves recoil?

    I consider myself someone who will talk to anyone...whether you're a parent I know or not...or maybe a friend / neighbor / relative of the party family. I wonder if some people just feel like they don't "need" to meet anyone new (thinking about MWF / BFF, where some people have only so many "slots"), so they don't even bother??? Of course I think there's a huge case for basic manners!

    Whew! Kind of a passion of mine, huh??? Or at least a big life question! ;)

    I haven't dealt with the "mean kid" thing (yet). I dread it, but I'm sure it will happen to all of us. :/

    Loved this post, Marcia!

    (Just read Lesley's her approach to the situation with her eldest daughter...that must be so hard, but kudos for making a learning opportunity from it.)

  3. I can talk to a wall... it would totally bum me out if another parent wouldn't even acknowledge me. How rude!

    We have been so lucky to have such sweet little classmates in Cam and Gray's preschool. I don't know what I would do if there were mean children. I know that a few of our playgroup friends have a bully {a BULLY! at age 3/4!} in their class. Both instances, it is a mean little girl.

    I would freak out if my girls were being mean to another child. I think most of the problem is probably the parents. The unfriendly parents at that party were probably the mommies and daddies of the unfriendly kiddos.

  4. We chatted about the girl issue at moms and tots - it is a girl issue. The moms with boys only had no clue what we were on about. Kiara has it often "Megan doesn't want to play with Tiffany any more now we can't play with Tiffany" etc etc etc - Kiara has a BFF who is extremely extroverted but very loyal to Kiara (who is introverted) so K just goes with the flow and doesn't get involved. I have been to the teachers twice though about one little girl and her bullying K last year and the year before.

    Cliques exist - ALWAYS! We are the sport moms - there about 8 boys who play all the sports so we became friends by default because when you are sitting watching a 4 hour cricket match it is nice to have someone to chat to! But within that group there are further groups. We have been together for 3/4 years now and it is rare that someone new enters so it works for us. You will see once you settle in at the school it happens naturally.

    There is one mom though - manic A type single mom. I know her, I know her kid, we have been watching soccer and cricket for 3 years now. Last season soccer she arrives and is looking for A - so I say to her "A is over there on field A" - she looks at me like she doesn't have a clue who I am and says "I am looking for my son but thanks" - lol I was like "I KNOW - he is over there" - she looked at me like I was a freak! Same thing happened with another boys mom - him and Cameron swim, play soccer and cricket together. Mom had NO idea how I knew her ON THE SOCCER FIELD!

  5. I see the same thing at N's school parties. There are two sets of parents I really like and she doesn't like their children at all. The girl she mostly plays with now has the rudest parents of all and the other day N came home and told me her friend's dad said she's not allowed to play with N anymore. Not sure what that's about...but they still play together. *shrug*

    I'm hoping we'll hit some "our kind of people" when we reach primary school and it will all just fall into place. Making good friends is not a skill I can acquire on her behalf anyway?

  6. I am just getting in on the party thing. Still very new at it. I always take my B if no-one wants to talk to me, it is fine...because i will talk to my B.

    But, I am still trying to make friends in Jhb..(I am from Durban and have most of friends from Class 1) I have been to a few get togethers and I am gradually figuring out my "kinda" people...

  7. So many times I have greeted people or smiled and gotten no response! It makes me so mad! And when I'm with the kids and they say HELLO with a big wave and smile to random people and some ADULT people look at my kids and turn the other way, I want to say "excuse me, these little kids just greeted you, can you not respond please???" It costs you nothing!

    Yes, cliques exist everywhere. I also ignore! I know quite a few of the moms and dads now so it may appear that WE are a clique at parties, but I always try to incorporate the newbies!

  8. It isn't only kids parties....I went to a Santa Shoebox conference a week ago and there were cliques...nobody bothered to even try and include anybody else. So I spoke my piece, drank my tea and went home.

  9. Oh gosh yes, people have cliques everywhere - I just choose to ignore it and find someone that I can talk to. There is always someone else that is nice. In terms of your kids not liking theirs - it can change - in a flash. At this age they change their alliances like nothing. So take heart, arrange a coffee date or such with the kids and maybe they will just turn out to like each other away from the other options in the class.

    As to girls, yes it is mostly girls - this just get worse. You just have to equip your daughter to deal with this.

  10. That’s one of the reasons why I am happy to decline parties. Those cliques are just too much. I mostly ignore them though. And yes, I have witnessed cattish behaviour between 3yr olds (THREE YEAR OLDS) on more than one occasion. I blame the parents for that. Specifically the ones who raise their daughters to believe that the entire world revolves around them. Lance calls it the Princess mentality. It doesn't get easier but I guess you would need to teach her to deal with that. It's even worse for introverts.


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