My oldest daughter now in grade two has been struggling with trying to fit in with the girls in her class since school began. As parents we had been encouraging her to try and deal with it herself because this issue was never going to go away.
One Sunday morning I walked in late to the service after cleaning up from my Sunday School class. A line of girls – my two included- were kneeling at a pew colouring the children’s activity sheets. I sat down in front of them and breathed a sigh of release to give myself over to the service and the music that was about to begin. This morning it is the praise choir, voices fill the sanctuary. As a song is coming to an end, I have the sense that I need to turn around. As I turn, I see the puffy, red eyes of my daughter pleading with me to help her out of this situation.
I whisper in her ear, “What is going on?” She grabs my hand and leads me out of the sanctuary. That is as much of the service that I was going to participate in that Sunday.
For the next hour my daughter and I explore what it feels like to be a girl. She begins to tell me all the stuff that is happening at school with other students in her class. How she never feels like she fits in and wonders how can friends be so mean. She asks me, “How can my friends be nice to me in class and then not want to play with me at recess?” I tell her, “It’s just a part of being a girl.” Then in her wisdom of 7 years she tells me, “That’s not what a true friend is.”
She is right. I had to withdraw my statement and tell her that I agree 100%. There is no reason why girls need to act like that. In my mind I begin to wonder, how is that trait learned anyway and why as a society have we accepted it as ‘just the way girls are’?
As my daughter continues to tell me the struggles she is facing at school, so many memories and feelings of my own come racing back. Soon we are both crying and cuddling in one of the Sunday School rooms as we are trying to come to terms with this reality we are facing. Where do we go from here?
My daughter has got it right, she knows what a true friend is and isn’t. She has no desire to try and understand why girls would act like that, she just wants them to be real and what a true friend should be. For me, I want to understand and do something about it.
It has been a few weeks since our meltdown in church. I have been to the school to meet with her teacher and we have had a few of her friends over for play dates. I am learning and understanding that everyone comes from a different place in life. Right now, I need to encourage my daughter to stay strong to her values. We are called to be the salt and the light. Whether we are 7 or 37, sometimes we need a lot of encouragement so that our salt doesn’t lose it’s saltiness and so our light never dims.
Cj Carleton is the 2008 Canadian Christian Writing Award winner for her first book “What Makes You Unique? Discover the Truth or Believe the lie” Learn more about Cj and her upcoming Online Girls Bible Study by visiting www.cjcarleton.com