Ten-year-old girls. Sleepover parties. Tween drama. Need I say more?
My daughter attends a small school with about 20 girls in her class. Very nice girls. But not every sleepover and birthday party can include all 20 girls. So, inevitably, there have been a few hurt feelings. Tears. Playground huffs. Mean looks.
The girls talked. The moms talked. (Probably a few dads too.)
The teachers led roundtable discussions about how to tell classmates you’ve been invited to a wonderfully fantastically marvelously special party that they cannot go to…and that it is nothing personal. The girls all agreed that honesty was the best policy. That they would be upfront and open about small sleepovers. They agreed that not everyone could be invited every time to every gathering. They decided that given how small the school was, being candid would create an atmosphere of trust and maturity for all.
I was so proud of the girls! Little did I know how much behind-the-scenes coaching would be involved.
Every night for weeks, my 10-year-old recounted the day’s drama. Who was invited where. Who wasn’t. Who knew. Who didn’t. We talked, for 45 minutes at a stretch, about how to diffuse awkward situations, and the importance of developing a thicker skin. Sometimes she was excluded. Sometimes she was the life of the party. For the most part, she has been fine.
Then as the year approached its final hysterical crescendo of pool parties and celebratory 5K runs and music performances, word spread at recess. Six moms had gotten together and planned a lavish retreat for the final weekend of school. Only their six girls were invited.
And their daughters all lied about it.
“I’m going away for the weekend to visit relatives.”
Long lingering look between the six.
“Oh, sorry, I can’t come for a playdate Friday because…um…my cousins are visiting.”
Another shared glance between the six. Possibly even a small sneaky smile.
“Oh, Saturday’s soccer game? I won’t be there…I can’t remember why.”
It took about six seconds for the girls who were not included to figure out they had been excluded... and worse yet, lied to by friends who had promised not to lie!
And so my 10-year-old and I had Part Two of our bedtime discussions. I felt like a modern day Socrates. Is honesty really the best policy? What are the downsides to telling the truth? What exactly constitutes a white lie? What choices exist if some members of a group follow common rules and others don’t? How can you gently confront someone who has hurt your feelings or another friend’s feelings? How do you look another mom in the eye at the end-of-year potluck when her daughter has caused yours to cry herself to sleep?
Finally the long-anticipated and long-dreaded final weekend finally arrived.