Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Mama Bear and Friendship
Teagan is at an age where she is starting to form relationships with other kids. She knows the names of the other girls in her dance class. But there isn't really any socializing time there- they show up and they dance and they go home. She knows the kids at church from her Sunday School class. And gets very excited too see them and say hello to them and play with them. There are about half a dozen kids there that she talks about on a regular basis. There are the kids at daycare- but she is the oldest so it isn't much of a peer group (hence the reason we are pursuing preschool this fall). So her main source of real social interaction with any consistency and with an opportunity to be somewhat unstructured is church. It's also the only place where I get to observe how she behaves around other kids. And it turns out that the Mama Bear that I thought had left the building after that first year or so... just hibernating. Mama Bear is alive and well and ready to attack. Thankfully, Mama Bear is still smart and observant and doesn't strike without true cause. There was a new little girl at church on Sunday and she and Teagan were in the same class, she sat near us during church, etc. And the girls really hit it off and Teagan took great pride in helping this girl and welcoming her. She sat with her during the children's sermon. She held her hand and showed her where their classroom was. She even asked me for an extra quarter so that this girl would have money to give during the offering in Sunday School. The girl sat with us before the children's sermon and they wrote their names and drew and colored hearts. They were becoming friends. After church, there was a pancake brunch. The girl and her father decided to stay and enjoy the lunch (the mom would come back and pick them up). Somehow, this new girl ended up attached to another girl- an older girl. And Teagan wanted to still hang out with them. And was forthright and confident in approaching them and asking to sit with them. So we've got my almost 4 year old, the new girl (who is on the young side of 5), and the older girl who is 7. And the 7 year old knows how things work. She sits between the new girl and Teagan. She talks and talks and talks and keeps her back to Teagan, focusing all of her attention on the new girl. I'm sitting across the table from these three, observing. And my Mama Bear is grumbling and starting to snarl. The older girl, prior to sitting to eat, ignored Teagan's attempts at hand holding. She turned away from Teagan's attempt to join in and play with them. Mama Bear's hackles went up. But Teagan took it in stride and hardly noticed. She went and found someone else who wanted to play and run and chase. She sat on the other side of the older girl and didn't notice that she was being shut out. She finished eating and ran off to play with a different group of kids- leaving Mama Bear to breath and calm down and take in the joy of running, skipping, hiding. Eventually, the older girl left. All the other kids had gone, too. Teagan asked to stay until her new friend's mom came- she didn't want her to be alone. So we stayed. And they played. They jumped and hopped. They twirled. They pretended to be kitty cats. They laughed and laughed and smiled and held hands and spun. And the lessons I learned overwhelmed me.