M has a group of girls who hang with her at school. (I love them as a group because they literally look like this: white, black, Indian, Native American, and Hispanic, but that’s beside the point.) They all come running when M arrives squealing her name. M sometimes deigns to acknowledge them with a glance, and then goes off to do what she wants to do with the gaggle of girls following behind her. She’s cool because she literally doesn’t care, and I think it’s super interesting to see these roles in society coming out in preschool. I’m also relieved that at least for now, she’s a leader and not a follower. In fact, I’ve heard her tell a group of girls or even older kids on multiple occasions that she didn’t want to go do whatever they were doing, because she was “busy” or “not ready yet”. I pray this keeps up in her teenage years!
Check out her swagger at the pool:
It’s also been interesting to see her with the group of girls in her gymnastics class. She is usually trying to cut in line, or steal a turn from someone who is too slow, much to my annoyance. But if someone cuts in front of her or gets physical, she goes up against them as far as she can, but if they win out she sort of respects their aggressiveness and either pursues a friendship with them or just lets them go in front. I’ve seen many instances of this survival/street-smart mode that she goes into on the playground. She’ll fight for a place on top of the social pecking order, but if she’s defeated she then gives due respect to that person. She’s not gonna pick on someone who defends themselves or who is similarly aggressive, but she’s also going to make sure that she gets “hers” if she can. She’s confident and resilient in social situations, something I’ve never been.
Getting a ribbon in gymnastics thrilled her to the core:
I’ve spent much of the last year encouraging and developing empathy with her, for those reasons. I love her “king-of-the-hill” mentality because I know she can take care of herself. I love that she recognizes when she is not going to be on top, and gives the more aggressive children space, even aligns herself with them. She’d be a wicked Survivor player. But I want her to develop her leadership skills with compassion and sensitivity never far from her mind. I hope, as all parents do, that she will have the strength to call out bullies and speak out against injustice. It’s a big job, channeling that social wariness for good. I hope I’m up to the task.
A rare moment of peaceful reading, thanks to her passion for Peppa Pig: