EM: "Nobody wants to play with my little girl."

This is Odette, walking to school of her first day of Grade Two.

Think back to the first time you were truly, emotionally scarred as a kid.

For me it was when, one recess, Jade Collins told Scott Derby-Clarke that she would give him two steamed dim sims if he dumped me and went out with her. By lunchtime it was over and by little-play Jade and Scott were holding hands in the stinky tunnel.

I was nine.

The humiliation of being passed over for a delicious snack food with a highly questionable filling is something that has stuck with me my whole life. It has been etched on my soul, stinking and dripping with soy sauce out of the corner of the bag.

I’m afraid that if someone asks my youngest daughter the same question she will respond with: “When my Mum made me change schools in grade two.”

Odie LOVED her old school. I mean it. She was king of the kids, everyone in the school knew her and loved her. And why wouldn’t they? She is a rad kid, ask anyone!

But quite seriously, my youngest has a special magic that lives inside of her. She’s sensitive, creative and wired slightly differently to most. When she was in prep, each member of her class was asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some responded with “Doctor” or “AFL player.” But my child announced that when she grew up she wanted to be a banana.

Yes, a banana.

Em Rusciano with her six-year-old daughter, Odette.

When I asked her why she’d chosen that (instead of her usual answer to that question which would be a singing zoo keeper hairdresser) she said she’d been very hungry at the time and being a banana was all she could think about. Her answer was immortalised in the school year book for all to see, she was most proud of that accomplishment.

Glorious right?!

We are two weeks into the new school year and I am afraid I’ve destroyed her magic.

You see, my lovely little girl is having trouble making friends, and by that I mean no bastard will play with her.

Every night she looks at me with her big blue eyes and tearfully asks if she has to go school the next day. OH GOD THE PAIN. Not to be too dramatic about it but it feels like someone has broken my heart into a bazillion pieces, set it on fire, put it out with acid, ate it, shat it out and then put it through a wood chipper. Part of me wants to respond with “Of course not honey! We can go to the park, eat tiny delicate sandwiches and frolic with nature”. Instead I respond with variations of “Yes babes, it’ll be better tomorrow”.

We’ve been trying different things. On her first day she marched up to a few kids and asked if she could play with them. That’s Odie, brave and open. She was shut down each time with one girl telling her, “We don’t have room for anyone else”.

What the what now?


I know these little kids are only seven, I get that they doesn’t yet completely comprehend the full awesomeness of my kid but still, bloody hell! That shit be brutal!  Odie came home devastated. I wanted to go and find those kids and speak very firmly to them in a non-intimidating (but slightly scary) manner.

I feel helpless, guilty and sad. I don’t want this to change her, I don’t want this to alter the way she sees the world. She is still full of wonder and love but her spirit is slowly being crushed by the oppressors in the playground… Too dramatic now?


Odie asked to have her hair cut and some groovy purple streaks put in, I suspect she felt a make-over would gain her some mates.  So of course we did it. I would pretty much buy her a solid gold unicorn and lead her around the playground on it if that would help in any way. I also found out she has been buying some kids lollies at the canteen with her pocket money in an attempt to win them over. I may not have even cared if that had worked!

Em Rusciano with her two kids, Marchella and Odette.

No dice.

I know.


I am desperately trying to keep my shit together, I am trying to not be a psychotic, hovering helicopter Mum, but you don’t know! You don’t see the big teary blue eyes at night, you don’t see the slow walk to school with the head down or have the visuals of her wandering alone at lunch time.

I had to have a really big think about why I’m so affected by this situation, why can’t I just shake it off and let her find her own way. I realised I’m trying to protect her from feeling pain and rejection. I want to shield her from any sort of emotional pain which comes from a place of love, but I wonder if I am doing her a disservice? Small amounts of hardship shapes character, doesn’t it? It allows a kid to develop some depth, courage and builds resilience for the big bad world. If I don’t let her experience a little bit of hurt what happens to her when she has it thrust upon her by someone else? She will be ill equipped to deal with it because I’ve wrapped her heart in cotton wool.

At least that is what I tell myself as I send the world’s must unhappy seven year old off to school each day.

I am going into her class for group reading soon so I can suss all the other kids out. Find one who may be a bit strange like her. I promise I won’t be weird or anything, I’ll be super cool and just gather some intel on the down low.

She just needs one mate, just one. I know that if she can find a kindred spirit she will be okay.

Wish her luck.


Have your kids ever had trouble making friends at school? What did you do to help them? 

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