Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fourth-grade girls

E was very upset after school a few days ago, crabby and snapping and even crying as the day wore on. When I finally got him to talk about it, he said that two of the girls in his class were picking on him, and that this had been going on for a while.

Ah, the joys of fourth-grade girls.

I am the first to admit that it's a good thing I have boys. No way would I have wanted to relive my extremely painful preadolescence, when I felt like the ugliest, fattest, greasiest misfit alive. Those years from nine to fourteen -- well, it makes me shudder just to think of it. Everyone says boys are easier. It must be true.

But E is such a sensitive little bird. I'm fairly sure what happened is that these girls were being their normal nine-year-old Nickelodeon-inspired selves: sassy, quick-tongued, slightly condescending. And my son, true to form, melted in the glare.

I tried to console him by explaining that a) fourth-grade girls can be bitchy and b) they are usually most bitchy to the boys they actually like. Not sure it worked.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Born of desperation

Last week I instituted a new morning habit for E and W. It came out of sheer frustration -- that is, my growing intolerance for their bickering. E, in particular, talks to W in such a nasty, condescending tone sometimes, especially in the carpool, that I want to scream. And do, often.

Anyway, one morning I decided that perhaps some positive visualization might help. So, before getting ready for school (generally their most civil hour -- no, I'm not kidding, this is one of the benefit of having really early risers), I sat them down facing each other, had them hold hands, and repeat after me:

I pledge allegiance to my brother
Of the United States of [last name].
And to the fraternity for which it stands
One family, under Mommy and Daddy, indivisible,
With love and kindness for all.

And then they changed "indivisible" to "not invisible," which admittedly makes less sense, but which they thought was hysterical.

Then they hugged.

And you know what? They were nicer to each other that day.

They won't do it every day because they're laughing now when I bring it up -- okay, I know, it's a little corny. But maybe it will stick in the backs of their minds.