Before I discuss what’s up with the Gal Smiley bus-kisser, let me say that dealing with this situation has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far as a parent. Up until now, I’ve felt like the way was fairly clear cut — not always easy to execute on, but at least I knew what I ideally wanted to see happen, and felt I knew what the right answer was. If others had criticism about my past actions, I felt pretty strongly that I had done what was best for us as a family and best for my own kid, and I stood by that.
This one has been a little more fuzzy, however. Sir Monkeypants and I are still not sure how to handle it right.
Anyway, I had a talk with Gal Smiley on Sunday night about how we don’t like it that Big A is kissing her all the time. I asked her to tell him not to do it anymore, and then to sit somewhere else on the bus if necessary. We talked about other girls who ride the bus, and I suggested she sit with one of them. I admit I wasn’t very good at following XUP’s suggestions, about telling her about it being her choice and all that — instead I just kind of told her to knock it off. I also didn’t do as Mike suggested, which was to clearly explain why Big A’s kisses are “different” than kisses from Mommy or Daddy or Captain Jelly Belly — mostly because I am fuzzy on that myself. Although, I should mention that Big A does refer to Gal Smiley as his “girlfriend” and he kisses her in an attempt to be romantic, as opposed to just being a friend. I guess I’m just not ready for the talk where I scare her straight with tales of unwanted pregnancies and getting a reputation as “that girl.”
So on Monday she went off to school and she was very nervous. She asked me to pick her up but I thought it was best to just throw her in there and see what happened.
At bus time she got on the bus and sat with Big A at first. Then she remembered that she was supposed to sit with someone else. So she went up to several other girls on the bus and asked to sit with them and THEY ALL SAID NO.
So Gal Smiley spent the ride home crying in the aisle because no one wanted to be her friend, and by the time she got home, she was good and upset. I didn’t find out what had happened until bedtime because she was too fragile to talk about it.
Gal Smiley is someone who is very defined by her social connections. She loves her friends and does not play well alone. If I tell her that I’m too busy to play, or Captain Jelly Belly wants to do something she doesn’t like, like play video games, then she takes that very personally. She’ll sit in a corner and sulk and feel totally rejected by the whole world. Any time one of her school friends chooses a game that does not involve her, she is devastated.
So she’s not really the type to sit happily by herself on the bus and laugh it off. It really means a lot to her that Big A invites her to sit with him every day — he’s her posse. Before he came along, she always sat alone, which she hated and which made her sad.
I felt really awful for her, so it was off to plan B. First, I told her it was okay to sit with Big A if she wanted, and she was visibly very happy about that. Then we talked about how the most important thing is that no one gets to touch her or kiss her unless she says yes. It is totally her decision, and she shouldn’t feel like she can’t say no. Also, she should never feel like she has to do something she doesn’t want to (i.e. kiss him back, if she doesn’t want to, although I think she’d be more than happy to give him a friendly kiss and see it as no different than giving a goodbye kiss to one of her female friends).
So basically, we don’t plan to call the boy’s parents or speak to the principal or anything like that. We just want what is best for Gal Smiley. Although I fear that, at four, I’m supposed to be making these personal space issues for her…for now, we will trust her to do what is right for her. She doesn’t seem to be upset or feel uncomfortable about the kissing; he isn’t pushing her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. I just can’t drive away her bus friend, who makes her feel included and safe and happy, for reasons that I can’t quite articulate to her. So, return to status quo, I guess.
She seems happier. Buses were cancelled today due to the Big Ice Storm (that still hasn’t happened…whatever), so we’ll have to test out the new situation tomorrow.
We’ll keep an eye on things — I intend to talk to her often to make sure that everything is still okay, that she still feels good about the situation and that no other kids are bothering her or harassing her because she has a “boyfriend.” And I might still change my mind. Like I said, we’re really not sure what the best thing to do here is…we’re still figuring it all out.
Plus I must admit that I am very happy that while winter continues, she’s protected head to toe with winter wear. I’m sure it won’t seem weird at all when we send her to school in May wearing snowpants and a coat. Totally not weird at all!