Mother-In-Law

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.

LITTLE BASTARDS.

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!

9 thoughts on “Mother-In-Law

  1. Capnplanet

    Oy, it’s times like these when I’m glad both our kids are boys. Although I suppose if I were Big A’s parents and I found out about this, I’d be facing a similar quandary.

  2. Oh my heart just broke for little Gal. Kids can so suck! I had the exact same sort of tendencies as she when I was little and being said no by everyone would have been terrible. I hope things work out and it will soon justy be water under the bridge.

  3. fame_throwa

    I know I’m not a parent so I don’t know much about kids, but does someone of Gal’s age have the ability to understand when she doesn’t want something to happen and be able to say “no”?

    I seem to remember that at that age, especially because I too had difficulty making girl friends, I just wanted someone to like me and I’d do anything for that to happen. If someone had done something like kiss me without me wanting them to, I probably would have let them do it for fear of being alone.

    I’m not questioning or criticizing your decision, but I confess I’m still concerned. If the kissing continues, could it lead to something else? If Big A feels he can do whatever he wants, will this make him take other liberties?

    Later in life I learned that being alone is better that someone taking advantage of you. But at what age are we ready to accept that the moral high-ground?

    Sometimes I wish I had been “taught” at an earlier age how to make friends. If Gal has trouble making girl friends, is there anything you could do to help that situation? Making friends doesn’t always come naturally for some people.

    It’s unfortunate that the other girls have shut her out. I wonder if it’s because of what’s happening with Big A. At that age, kids don’t like kids who are different in any way, and what’s happening between Big A and Gal might be drawing bad kinds of attention, depending on if other people have noticed.

    I will stand behind you regardless of how you handle this very challenging situation; you and SMP are such excellent parents. But I need to voice all of my concerns, not for my own sake, but for Gal since she is my niece, and I cannot take this situation lightly.

  4. I have very similar concerns as you — I know Gal Smiley is willing to do anything to have a friend, so it is very hard to determine if she is actually bothered by the kissing or not. Also, I agree with you…at four years old, can she actually stand up for herself? Can she say no? Or do I need to step in and say it for her?

    It’s very confusing. I don’t want to embarrass her or make her feel ashamed, or make her even more of an outcast on the bus because she has no friends and now can’t even be friends with Big A. But I do want to protect her physical space and her self esteem.

    GAGH! Parenting is hard.

  5. I re-read my comment on your last post about this and I have to say I was a bit freaked out. I have thought about it more since then and I still think it is a very difficult situation and you are dealing with it as best as you can. At least you know about it now. And you can talk to her about it. That is HUGE. I am sure if you are able to keep the dialogue open it will allow you to see if the situation changes and handle those changes as they arise.

  6. Parenting gets oh so much harder the older they get. Now YOU’RE putting up with the kissing just so your child will have a bus friend. That’s not right either. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be allowed to sit with him, but he really has to cut out the constant kissing. Ask your daughter if she would like it if you or her dad were kissing her non-stop all the time. Who would? Is it not possible for someone (if not your daughter then maybe you??) to ask this boy very very nicely to limit his kissing to maybe a little goodbye kiss each day?

  7. When my oldest started JK I got a call home from her teacher one evening to tell me that Abby and the boy across the street had been kissing. She stressed that she wasn’t in any kind of trouble, but they had a no kissing policy and she had taken the opportunity to teach my daughter about people’s “personal bubbles”. And she just wanted to keep me in the loop.

    When I talked to Abby I went the same personal bubble angle and she said she just wanted him to know that he was a good friend. So we had a talk about how hugging and kissing is not appropriate at school, but it’s a tricky slope to navigate. I hesitated going the “it’s only for family” route since she often hugs her little girlfriends (outside of school) good bye as she’s seen me do with my girlfriends. I am a huggy person. Without a better idea I told her that instead of hugging or kissing him to let him know he was a good friend she could just tell him he was one. She’s in grade one now and I haven’t had any more kissing calls. So I think she’s figuring out the whens and the wheres. It’s a tough situation though.

    And we’ve had days where she’s come of the bus upset because so and so wouldn’t sit with her. A problem that has been obliterated with the assigned seating they’ve been doing. It was a tough sell in the beginning since she’s assigned to a seat with a boy a grade or two older than her. But it’s turned out to be a good match for her now that they’re used to each other. I like to take those exclusions and use them to teach her how not to behave. I can’t stand that kind of stuff.

    Also I’ve never really been a playdate Mom, but I’ve learned to become one. It definitely has it’s advantages. I’m not stellar at it yet, but I work on it.

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