“Go and kick Jessica when she’s not looking. She’s not our best friend anymore.”
I overheard this in a playground the other day.
Three girls. An unusual dynamic. Three friends.
One girl is slightly older, slightly more in control.
The other two more followers, both the same age.
“Kick her. Now.”
The older girl in knee high leather boots and a denim skirt flicked her glossy brown hair as she said it, the girl she was talking to peered at her through slightly grubby glasses.
“She’s not our best friend anymore. We don’t like her. She’s mean and her hair is too short.”
Like teenagers, already, like mean girls at the tender ages of just four and five.
Two of these girls are aged four and the third – a five-year-old – and here they are talking about “best friends” and judging each other on their looks. I was shocked.
And even more shocking – one of them was my four-year-old daughter.
I watched her glance at me with her golden-flecked eyes wondering what to do.
Should she kick the other girl? Should she do what her friend wanted? She almost pleaded with me to intervene and I did. Within minutes I snaffled her up, lecturing her five-year-old playmate about friendships before I whisked my daughter home far from the world of playground bullying and mean girls.
Mean girls before they even start school.
My two older children are boys – a six-year-old and an eight-year-old – and while yes this stereotypes massively what I have found is that their friendships are different.
Their friendships are less intense, less hurtful. They play as a pack, with whoever is around and if one boy runs off to join another there doesn’t seem to be any hurt feelings or sense of alienation they just accept that at that moment the other boy wanted to play with the other kid and that they too should find someone else to play with. No feeling hurt, no friendships broken.
They don’t look too far below the surface; they accept the other boys for who they are at that moment, what they are doing right then and there.