That's what this year has been for my 6th grader. Icky. While I remember my other three kids having the occasional issue around this age, I can't recall it being THIS protracted. Seriously, this has gone on since the beginning of the school year.
Lest you think I am not aware of my kids' idiosyncrasies, and how they relate socially. Don't. I get it. I especially get it with my youngest. She's the one who has had the most freedom, mostly by virtue of being the youngest. As parents, we are entering into the equivalent of "senioritis" with regard to parenting. So, yes, we've been lax. But I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure exactly where or how that fits into her experiences this year.
She is at a 6th grade center. ALL of town's 6th graders go to one school then next year they will be split up into one of two junior high schools. I thought this would be a good thing as it would give her the opportunity to expand her friend base. Up until this year, she had one friend, pretty much from birth, one really good friend from school and a couple of girls who were in a more popular clique where she would SOMETIMES be included, but that seemed to wane at the end of last year.
Within the first month of school the friend, from birth, apparently had taken up with a new friend and openly mocked my daughter on the bus, in earshot of other people but behind my daughter's back. One of my middle daughter's friends, who had NO dog in the fight, passed on what happened and the middle daughter texted me and said she was going to put a stop to it. Now, given the contentious relationship my youngest two have, I actually saw her desire to stand up for her sister as a good thing but I also know that in confronting these girls, she would be seen as the aggressor so I asked her not to. Yeah, well, THAT didn't happen because as I have mentioned here, and here, and here, oh, and here, my kids don't always listen to me. So, she confronted on the bus and said, "talk smack about my sister and you'll deal with me". Is it actually possible to be horrified and proud at the same time? No threat, just that she has her sister's back. But here's the kicker (and you just KNOW this was coming right), first they LIED flat out about mocking her, then they ran to the principal of the 6th grade center and reported my middle daughter for bullying. And thus began my frequent visits to the principal's office.
LUCKILY, the principal is about the most awesome principal that there could ever be. EVER. He moved from the grade school my youngest three attended to the 6th grade center and I am well acquainted with how he works. And as he has seen me volunteering frequently at the grade school, he knows I am an involved parent. Which made this first meeting much easier than I would have expected. We both put this down to a somewhat bad experience and hoped this would be the end of it.
Sadly...no. Oh, it hasn't always been these same two girls. And I'll be honest, some of this is on my daughter. She wants to be in with the popular girls and simply put, they don't want her. She's that kid who will do whatever they want of her, thinking it is her way "in" only to be disappointed over and over and over again. And most of it has taken place out side of school. She'll make plans with one of the girls only to find herself ditched while they all get together without her. And I GET how she needs to own some of this, but some of this behavior is just plain ICKY. Like calling a girl and having them pretend they don't know anyone by her name. SERIOUSLY? I'd have preferred that they had taken a much more honest but possibly brutal approach and said, "we just don't want to be friends with you". BTDT. I have the battle scars. But it makes you evaluate what about them you were drawn to. Was it popularity? Was it common interests? Or was it simply convenience.
My last trip to see the principal was the most harrowing. We were back to the bus girls and apparently they had (all) been online with each other (KiK) and one asked my daughter if she considered suicide. Then they brought it up on the bus. THEN, oh so coincidentally, a note was left in my daughter's locker saying "kill yourself". THAT.VERY.SAME.DAY. She didn't take it to the principal, the principal just happened upon her when she found it and SAW her reaction. You can't fake that. Not the timing. While the principal said he would investigate the note, discreetly, I said let's just see if this will go away on its own. Then he brought up this point: If HIS kid had placed the note in her locker, he would want to know. I had to agree.
But I don't think most parents these days DO. Want to know, that is. I think most parents want to bury their heads in the sand about their kids' activities, which is why we have so many problems with this generation of children. NO culpability. Parents refusing to accept responsibility for their kids' actions. HECK, parents refusing to accept that their kids MIGHT actually NOT be the little angels they think they are.
No, I haven't heard anything further on the note although circumstances point to who is responsible. For now, it's water under the bridge.
The next event was a sleepover with a newer friend. The child got dropped off and the girls immediately hit the hot tub. My husband came home and he took the girls to the Y so they could go swimming. They were home for maybe half an hour when my daughter came to me in tears saying her "friend" wants to go home because she's bored. I was STUNNED. Literally. I had the girls come to the kitchen table and attempted to teach her friend how to play the card game golf, and while she played, she also spent the whole time texting. I was never so glad to see a parent as I was to see hers, to get her out of my house. The parent is lucky my husband was not there as he had some CHOICE words for the parent.
The latest incident with the youngest involved a birthday party she was invited to. She came home on Wednesday with an invitation, written on notebook paper, for a sleepover on Friday night. Of course, as a parent, the invitation was a giant red flag, but she assurred me that EVERYONE got their invitation on notebook paper. But they got theirs earlier in the week. I quelled that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach and said, yes, she could go. Then Thursday she was told she was DISINVITED to the sleepover, although she could still come for the early part of the evening. WHO.DOES.THAT? And yes, this was "the popular" girls. We found an alternative activity for her and she called and thanked the girl for her invitation but declined.
Seriously, it has been a whole year of this. At conferences, I spoke to her teachers to see if THEY see some issue with her that I'm not seeing and they all seem somewhat baffled because she seems to get along well with most of her class mates. Her biggest issue is that she is too concerned with what is going on around her (well, DUH) than she is with her school work. But relationship wise, they don't see it.
And I don't know if a lot of what she is relaying to me that happens in school is exaggerated for my benefit (although truthfully, the only thing that I THINK is exaggerated is that ALL the boys at school hate her), or if that is how she actually perceives it. Either way, it's not a good environment for her.
Now I'm struggling with what exactly are our options. I've done a cursory look at some charter schools but the deadline for those that COULD work for us was in JANUARY. For next year. And I'm not sure if running away is the problem. But this is such a tough time for kids this age. I'd consider home schooling but I simply do not have the patience. Yes, this is MY character flaw (one of a great many I assure you). Plus, she is a child who CRAVES social interaction. I don't think online opportunities would be a good solution for the same reason.
So, yeah, this school year has been ICKY. ICKY. ICKY. ICKY.
23 hours ago