I saw your children playing together. You mums were chatting nearby. How sweet to see your girls getting along so well. Two good friends holding hands, taking turns, whispering together and sharing secrets.
My little girl saw them too. She didn’t know them, but they were only a bit older than her and she was so excited to find someone to play with.
She went bounding over with a huge smile on her face and made it her mission to join in with their game. I saw her copying them, trying to get their attention. Soon, they were playing a different game, one that my little girl was excluded from.
Every time she tried to join in, she was met with disdain. “No, we’re not doing that. No, we’re not playing with that. No, don’t put that there.”
Your girls clearly knew each other and had their own little ways. My little girl wasn’t part of their gang and they didn’t want her around. But she couldn’t take the hint and she just kept on trying again and again to be friends.
It was heartbreaking to watch. My other little girl was there too. I’m sure she didn’t know what was going on, but she soon went over and tried to play with her big sister. But her sister was too set on being accepted by her peers.
In the end, I pulled my little girl to one side and told her to play with somebody else because your children didn’t want to play with her.
You were close by too, but you didn’t feel the need to ask your children to play nicely and let my little girl join in. Should I have just let her keep on and on trying to join in with the game, getting knocked back every time? Maybe. But by pulling her aside, I opened up the channels of communication to talk to her about it.
Later that day, I told my little girl that your children hadn’t been very nice to her and that if someone isn’t nice, she should find somebody else to play with. We went on to talk about how it is unkind to exclude people from a game and we should be kind to everybody, because it is a horrible feeling when somebody doesn’t want to be your friend.
My little girl couldn’t understand why she shouldn’t keep trying to play with them, after all, they were a similar age to her, so why shouldn’t they be friends? But the one thing she did understand was that it doesn’t feel good when somebody is unkind to you. She told me that she would let everybody be her friend if they asked her nicely.
I don’t know whether I handled the situation correctly or whether I should have just let nature take its course. But what I do know is that it is a conversation we will have a lot over the coming years. I hope that she won’t often find that children are mean to her, but I know that she will be in situations where somebody is singled out or excluded.
I hope that if we talk about it enough, my children will be the ones to stand up to the bullies and be friends with the children who are excluded by others. I hope that you never have to watch your children being treated unkindly. But if you do, perhaps you too will ask them to think about their own actions in future.
I won’t always be there to intervene when people are mean, or to wipe her tears when things go wrong. But I will always tell her how important it is to be kind. Maybe you chat to your children about bullying, or perhaps you think that when they’re tiny, it doesn’t matter if children are unkind.
But please remember that it could just as easily be your child who isn’t accepted. I want to thank you for being the mum who turned a blind eye. Because it gave me the opportunity to teach my little girl a valuable life lesson.
A lesson that will make her a better person, someone who stops and thinks about her actions. Someone who can understand the importance of kindness. I hope that one day, your children will learn that too.