When friendships change

When friendships change

Dear girls who play with my son,

Last time I found H in a scrambling match with one of you and took him to task. You remember that I’m sure. A few days back I found two of you again, walking away. One of you was in tears and the other, outraged on her behalf, for the same reason – a scuffle with a boy during a game, where her t-shirt got pulled.

Okay I’ll admit my first thought was, “No, not H again!” It wasn’t.

But that’s not the issue at all. The point is, there are some things you will need to understand when you play together. In a game that needs some amount of physicality, when one of the children is supposed to catch another (and count to ten while the other tries to free himself/herself), t-shirts will get pulled, dresses will fly, hands will be twisted, feet will be stepped upon.

You know the rules, right? You are the ones who put them in place along with the others. You cannot then, in all fairness, start to cry, or get angry or quit the game either. You will simply come across as a bad loser.

You’re growing up, I know. You’re becoming more conscious of yourself and the changes in you and that’s just how it should be. But don’t let it take away the fun from your playtime. Don’t let it take away from your friendships.

Soon you’ll all be grown up and out in the world – working, competing, playing and socialising with men, on an equal footing. Each time a situation like this crops up you cannot break into tears, you cannot get outraged and worse, you cannot withdraw. 

You cannot.

If you do, just like in the playground, be prepared to be laughed at, or what’s much much worse, patronised by the others. You’ll hate it, take my word for that. Just as you will be left out of the game now, you will be shut out from the more exciting challenging opportunities to learn and grow and prove yourself.

Most importantly you’ll miss out on many many good friendships. Men do make for wonderful companions – easy, uncomplicated, fun. I say that from experience. And that would be truly sad.

For now, I’ll repeat the five simple rules I keep telling H – 
1. Set the rules before the game – Make it clear what is acceptable and what is not. Do be reasonable and practical.
2. Dress for the playground – Wear sensible clothes: shorts, tights, jeans, running shoes.
3. Be prepared for some amount of rough play – It can be fun once you give up your ‘I’m a girl I shouldn’t do this’ self image.
4. Accept no nonsense – But don’t be over sensitive.
5. Assess the situation, the intention – An unintentional pull of the T shirt is NOT a bad touch.

Remember these rules. They work in the grown up world too – Set the rules, dress sensibly, be prepared to fight rough, accept no nonsense and asses an intention fairly.

For now, stop being girls or boys – just be friends.

Love and hugs
Mom of H.
Linking to ABC Wednesday , after a long long time, for the letter C for Change. It’s good to be back here.

31 Replies to “When friendships change”

  1. Loved your last line…society teaches kids to be 'different'. We are all socialised to believe we are a certain way and we need to fight that. Have you heard about the Like a Girl campaign? I thought that was pretty awesome.

  2. It's such a fine post that every teen/pre-teen should read. Sometimes it's hard to differential between intentional and un-intentional touch. One thing they can do it dress for the place. Loved the last though:)

  3. Us adults need to take time a play too–enjoy our lives. Thanks for your comment on my counting for health, my son is trying to help me build muscle and be stronger as I age.

  4. This is one of your gems, Tulika. I admire everything that you said in the post. Applies so well to kids and adults. I so wish I could be there when H and N read your posts as they grow older. Would love to capture their admiration of their cool mom 🙂

  5. Superb post, Tulika! You've expressed the fine lines so well. Here's where we could break the stereotype of girls will be sissy and boys will be rough image.

    1. I wish it were that easy Uma. I am struggling with these issues everyday. My daughter cannot get the idea out of her head that she's more 'delicate' than my son. It makes me go arrrrgh!!! We were just two sisters and were way more no-nonsense. Or maybe they're young yet. I cannot decide.

  6. Can't tell you how much I LOVED this one Tulika! Some of it has been on my mind as D grows up, and I hope the whole boy/girl stereotyping from school doesn't come in the way of forming good friendships! Not just for roughhousing in the playground, I think your rules would apply well to life as well! Definitely going to share this one with her :).

    1. Thanks Aparna.as mums we all think the same. Since our kids are almost the same age we end up facing the same issues :-). Glad you found it useful.

    1. Of course it's okay to cry Suzy – the point I'm making is kids shouldn't over react. I do understand that during play they sometimes cannot figure it out. So while I teach my son to be sensitive I will also teach my daughter to not over think things.

  7. I guess it's a sensitive topic because girls hear a lot of warnings about bad touch and eve teasing so they grow wary about it. Which is not a bad thing but I see your point that one can go overboard!

    1. I think we HAVE gone a bit overboard with this and that kids might not know the difference between a real bad touch and simple harmless play.

  8. Wise words! I can't rememeber what I did at that age. I had to study a lot at school and I spent a lot of time on my homework. I liked reading.
    Well I wish you a great weekend.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

    1. Me too Wil – I was a reader too but I do understand the importance of physical play. When kids start dividing on the basis of girl and boy it pains me because my twins are pitted against each other.

  9. I have been a silent follower of your blog for sometime now…this post is so apt and so akin to what I feel I had to leave a comment…I love your writing and would want to make my daughter read some posts when she is able to…there is a real treasure of wisdom in your blog…thanks

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