How The Heck Do You Make Friends?

I hold her against my chest and stroke her hair while she cries. She says she has no friends.  She says every time she asks one of her classmates to “be her friend”, they say no so she runs away.

My heart breaks into a thousand pieces inside my chest and I can’t think of the right thing to say.

So instead I try to buy time by asking her questions like, “Who says no? Which kids?  What are their names?”  Like somehow this makes a difference.  Like somehow that’s going to help me zero in on some way to turn that no into a yes.

She takes a few minutes because she doesn’t want to tell me or maybe she’s just trying to formulate her thoughts into words, which is hard for her even with the four sessions of speech therapy a week.

Finally she mentions the name of a girl I know. I’ve noticed her while chaperoning field trips, or helping with classroom parties. She’s the popular one. The leader. The one all the other girls clamor around.    The one who, Annie says, tells her to “stop” whenever she tries to join in.  The social gatekeeper.

And I feel the anger simmering in my belly. I wish I could just grab this girl by the arm and make her be friends with Annie. But that’s not the way to make friends, so I say nothing.

Does this nonsense really start as early as first grade? Are these the same sweet little munchkins that circled around her last year, full of welcoming hugs and kisses, when two months into the school year, she was placed back into a kindergarten class for the second time around because she wasn’t keeping up with the first grade curriculum?  How did they grow fangs already?

So I squeeze her a little tighter, and say, “Forget those girls. There must be other girls in the class you could try to make friends with.”  Other girls looking in from the outside, like her.  Yes, that’s it. Outsiders unite!

“But I want to be friends with ________!”  and she breaks into breathless sobs again because another wave of humiliation and rejection crashes over her.

I’m at a total loss. As a mother, I don’t know what to do to make this better. I have not the slightest clue how to ease these emotions she’s processing. As a person in general, who’s lived and functioned in this society for nearly 41 years,  I’m baffled by my social skill set deficit.  How the heck do you make friends with the popular girl?

I’m desperate so I say, “Maybe if you bring her a present, she will be nicer to you.” As soon as it’s out of my mouth, I sense  there’s something really off about this approach.  It doesn’t sit right with me. It feels like bribery and it’s pathetic but it’s all I’ve got so I roll with it. “I just bought some really pretty lollipops for our treasure box.  You can bring her one of those tomorrow.”

She lifts her head and her eyes brighten a bit.

Uh-oh.  I can see I’ve given her some hope.

Oh God, please let this work. And God, if it doesn’t, please give me the words to get her through it.

 

lolipop

Germs, Smerms

fish hooks

bloghop

Today’s post is part of the Hearts At Home blog hop, encouraging mom’s to lighten up and laugh. Please visit jillsavage.org for more great viewpoints.

“I got one! I caught a fish!” My six year old daughter, Annie, waved frantically from the edge of the dock. She’d developed a thing for fishing since school let out for summer, spending hours  casting lines into the lake behind our house and relentlessly teasing the mossy green slider turtles with her fishing bait.   Her first catch ever was a striped, twelve-inch long Mayan fish that she’d snagged using a piece of a hotdog as bait.   After that, just like that Mayan, she got hooked.

“Yeah!” shouted my husband, Bill who’d been sitting on the patio. He raced the length of the yard in her direction.   He was the designated fish “unhooker”, the one who guides the hook out of their gasping mouths and places their wiggling scaly bodies back into the black water.

I ran behind him.  “Don’t let her touch it! God knows what kinds of germs are crawling on those fish.”

No doubt, Annie would put her fingers in her mouth, or rub her eye before she’d washed all that slime off.

“Oh,” he said with a snap, suddenly turning back.   “Let me get the camera.”

“Oh geez, the fish is going to die! Why do you always to this? Are you going to take a picture of every single fish she ever catches?”

“Yes. I am.”

Annie was blissfully hopping on one foot in front the day’s catch, a slick black catfish, as it lay slithering on the dock.

“Put it back in the water until Daddy comes.  It can’t breathe.”

She lifted the pole, peeling the fish off the dock and placed it into the murky water.    Immediately, it began thrashing back and forth, splashing us with the dirty water. I shuddered, imagining what bacteria could be lurking in the droplets. Brain eating amoebas?  Flesh eating bacteria? I recalled a new article a few summers back about a boy who died from meningitis after swimming in a lake.

Annie gripped the pole tightly and looked up at me with wide blue eyes. Her smile was beaming brighter than the afternoon sun.

“You have to take a shower after this,” I said quietly, wiping her face with my shirt.

“Alright Annie!” Bill cheered as he jogged towards us, camera in hand.  “What’d you catch?”

“It’s a catfish! It has whiskers, Daddy.”

“Those are the slimiest of them all.” I muttered.

Bill brushed past me.  “Let’s see.  Bring it up and let me take a picture of you with the fish.”

“Don’t touch it, Annie.” I cautioned over Bill’s shoulder.   “Just hold it up by the pole.”

Annie reeled in the line a few feet and then carefully lifted the pole out of the water.  It bowed under the weight of the fat catfish, dangling in front of her like a piñata.  She threw her shoulders back, puffed out her small chest and holding tight to the fishing pole, she grinned towards the camera, like a true fisherman.

“I can’t get the fish in the shot.  Hold it closer to you, Annie.”

Annie pulled the pole upright into a ninety degree angle.  The fish swung like a pendulum on the wire.

I slapped my forehead. “Oh my God.  Really?  The fish is suffering! You’re going to kill it for the sake of a dumb picture.”

“Relax. The fish will be just fine. It’s got at least five minutes before anything happens,” he said, still angling the camera.

Annie squinted at the fish each time it passed close to her face. The silver hook jutting out of its mouth flashed in the sun beams streaming through the tree branches above us.

“You don’t know that for a fact,” I argued.   “Ugh.  Just please hurry.  Annie, put it back in the water for a minute.”

Annie let the pole drop towards the water.

“No!” said Bill.  “Annie, just grab the line and pull the fish a little closer to you.  I’ll take the picture really fast.”

Annie jerked the pole upright again reaching for the end of the line as the fish swung back towards her like a wrecking ball. Before she could gain control of it, the slimy fish slapped against her cheek. She scrunched her face and turned away, as the fish swung back out over the water, only to circle around, barreling back towards her. Bill reached out, trying to stabilize the fishing pole and the camera crashed onto the damp wooden planks of the dock.  The fish landed against Annie’s chest with a thud.

I gasped. Bill cringed.  Annie was a wide-eyed statue with her face pulled as far back into her neck as it would go. The mucky fish squirmed against her thin shirt.

She looked back and forth from me to Bill. Finally, she shrugged. “Eeww?”

Bill and I locked eyes.  His face contorted trying to stifle a giggle. Then Annie joined in with a laughing snort that sent us all into such fierce hysterics, I had to cross my legs and cling to the dock railing in desperation.

Bill picked up the camera.  “Hold it right there, Annie.” She smiled a wide exaggerated smile, revealing one adult sized front tooth crowding out rest of her tiny remaining baby teeth.  Bill snapped the picture and got to work on removing the hook.

Within seconds, the catfish was diving back down into the quiet darkness of the lake.

As our laughter died down, Annie put her little hand in mine and gave it a tug. “Mommy, don’t I have to take a shower now?”

I looked down at all the new little brown freckles that had surfaced on her nose and cheeks so far this summer.

“Why don’t we try to catch another fish first, Peanut?”

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draw-near-to-god

Add this to the 2015 list…

 

I know it might be difficult to believe in God and how Jesus came from heaven as a sacrifice for the sins of man, then was resurrected, brought back to life after three days.

It probably sounds like a fairy tale from your childhood, like Cinderella, or Snow White.

It is hard to believe it

until you actually feel it.

Until you turn down the noisy doubt a bit and turn up the quiet possibility of it.

So maybe you skeptically begin to investigate the bible, taking a gander, casually thumbing through a few chapters.

You catch a verse here or there about the loving relationship that God wants to have with you.

Then you start to hope that it could be true, that there is a mighty and powerful God of the universe who is interested in you and wants to love you.

Then you begin to seek Him through prayer, asking Him to show himself to you.

And when He does, you realize, even though you can’t explain it to someone else, you know, in your heart,

He is real and He is good and He loves you.