Monday, June 27, 2011

Boys vs. Girls

I love our neighborhood, or more specifically, our street. We know almost all our neighbors. We talk to them. We have wine tasting parties. We have block parties. We run races together. Our kids play with each other. When it's nice weather out, you are almost always guaranteed to see people out playing and talking. It's wonderful.

But, and you know there has to be a but, we have been having a bit of a problem lately. Here it is: Boys can be mean!

I guess that's a little harsh. You probably want a little back-story to the wide-reaching derision of an entire half of the world's population, so here goes:

Molly was born two months after our next-door neighbor had her son. Let's just call him "Timmy," to protect his identity. So, Timmy and Molly have always played really well together. Now, Timmy has an older brother "Liam," and Liam has a best friend down the street "George." Did you get all that?

Ok, well, each boy individually plays fine with Molly. But, when Timmy, Liam and George get together, the testosterone takes over. Who knew testosterone could be so destructive at such a young age? All of a sudden, they tell Molly, "No girls are allowed in the treehouse!" The moms insist the boys let Molly into the treehouse. They grudgingly oblige, but when she finally manages to crawl up there, all the boys leave immediately to play swords. When Molly tries to join in and play swords, the boys run away from her. "Stay away from Molly! She's a girl!" Then, as the boys keep avoiding her, Molly decides to take a ride on a power wheel left abandoned by the boys in the street. Next thing you know, it's "She can't drive that!!!"

In reality, this isn't a new problem. This happened last summer, too. But, the change is Molly. This year, she realizes what's going on. Last year, she just blithely followed behind them, happy in her ignorance of their dislike. They would run away from her, but she thought she was being included in the game, so she was happy to be playing. This year, she knows she's being excluded. Today, it made her cry.

Now, I've always been the mom who says, "brush it off." I firmly believe the bigger deal you make out of skinned knees or bruised elbows, the bigger deals they become. I've taught her how to breathe through her pain and crying when she falls. It calms her down, and we're all good. But ... the emotional pain is much harder to tell her to brush off. I have no idea who coined that stupid saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Truly, I believe the complete opposite is true. You can heal much more easily from a bruised body than a bruised heart.

Maybe this is my adult viewpoint showing through. I can't remember all the times I got physically hurt as a child, but I have very specific memories of each time my heart was hurt. And, I do believe there is a special place in hell for all those kids who make fun of redheads. Ok, maybe not hell, but as far as that boy who called me some version of carrot-top every single day on the bus in 6th grade? I sure hope he is a balding, beer-bellied, living-in-mom's-basement kind of guy. What do you think? Too petty?

If I'm being too petty or not, it still doesn't diminish that I can still remember that pain. And, I desperately want to protect Molly from feeling that. I know that I'm not going to be able to protect her from everything. Hello Middle School?!? But, man, it seems early to have to see her getting left out. She's just got such a sweet, trusting, innocent heart. I can feel the mama bear in me coming out! (That is in absolutely no way a reference to that one person who likes to akin herself to a mama grizzly, fyi.) I guess I'm still learning when I have to let her experience pain and when I am able to shelter her from it.

So after this whole experience, you know what the best boy in all our lives did? He took Molly and Charlotte to get ice cream. Just to make his little girl feel better. Now, really? Who needs to play with the neighborhood boys when you've got an awesome daddy like that? Boys vs. ice cream? No contest. Hands down. Ice cream wins. Every. Single. Time.

Besides, who needs boys when your daddy helps you be a superhero?

1 comment:

  1. Poor Molly.....but wait until they are older and she is knocking them dead and won't date any of those boys......paybacks.....but, oh I remember the pain of being left definitely is not something you ever forget......however, when you have such a great Dad, it will definitely help her to recover!!!!