The heartbreakers of pre-k

Last night Thalia came home from school, not her usual happy self.

"What happened in school today?" I asked.

"Well, today we made friendship bracelets. But no one made me one."

Evidently the kids all created bracelets for anyone they wanted - a kid in the class, a sibling, a parent. But while many bracelets were exchanged, she was left bare-wristed.

After she explained the situation, she stuck out her bottom lip as far is it would go, lowered her lids beneath her long lashes, stared at the ground.

And promptly broke my heart.

I don't want to be the parent who insists that every kid on the field gets a trophy "just for playing." I believe in rewards for accomplishment and that life is sometimes unfair. But I understand why Valentine's cards are expected to be handed out to everyone, the same as cupcakes and birthday invitations. I understand that social alienation in preschool is a whole different ballgame. I understand that the rule "You can't say you can't play" which my mom always talks about, makes a whole lot of sense.

And I understand that Thalia, my sweet, sensitive, social little girl didn't come home beaming like she imagined the other kids did, extending her arm and squealing that someone had made her a friendship bracelet.

[image: Healing, by Shirae on etsy]


Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Oooooofffffff. Guess what the little girls in Massachusetts who love her sooo much will be making this weekend? And they won't forget Sage.

(and I agree--the teacher should have looked out for this and given any bare-wristed child a bracelet she had made for just this circumstance).

10/23/09, 10:16 AM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Seems like the mistake here was the teacher letting the kids make them for other kids in the class. Sets up the situation.

I'd say something to the teacher about it so she doesn't repeat the mistake. And maybe make Thalia a friendship bracelet?

10/23/09, 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Crista Makdouli said...

Oh my God. I SO dread the day that Isabella and Camilla come home with the lower lip droop. I feel your pain in anticipation of my own.

I'm going to have spare bracelets made up ahead of time I think, hehe!


10/23/09, 10:21 AM  
Blogger Boy Crazy said...

Ugh. Any mother can empathize. Stuff like this kills me.

But remembering being a little girl has me thinking that receiving a bracelet or two in the mail from FOM's girls or even from her own mom will go a long way in making it right. Hugs to that little sweetie. (And her mama.)

10/23/09, 10:23 AM  
Blogger Mom et al said...

UGH! That brought me to tears! I already dread that my four year old child will find herself in similar situations. I know we can't protect them from all the disappointments in life that are sure to happen, but it does appear to me that this one could have been avoided. I agree with Susan, a word to the teacher could save another student (and there's a good chance Thalia wasn't the only sad child going home that day) the feelings of rejection. And, perhaps a bracelet from a secret friend could lighten her spirits!

10/23/09, 10:27 AM  
Blogger STWright said...

Awe that's sad!!! That's difficult in a group setting like that. If it's a one on one (your child and another child) it's easier to explain, I think... In a simple way for preschoolers to understand: "Some kids are mean and some kids are nice".

10/23/09, 10:39 AM  
Anonymous kootnygirl said...

I'm in the midst of drafting a similar post for my own blog...different situation, same heartbreak.

I feel as you do though, making everyone get everything (i.e., forcing inclusion) doesn't solve the problem. Trouble is, I don't know what does :(

10/23/09, 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Karen Chatters said...

That breaks MY heart. As if raising children isn't hard enough without silly but huge things like this. If I had any skill at all, I'd make her a friendship bracelet. You too, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

10/23/09, 10:49 AM  
Anonymous croutonboy said...

If Chloe or I knew how to make her one we would TOTALLY do that. That makes my heart ache for her.

10/23/09, 10:54 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

STW there are different situations where I think it's about mean kids, but in this one, it was just a matter of not "being picked."

Other commenters are right - she wasn't the only one. But she's the kind of sensitive soul who probably feels it more than they do.

10/23/09, 10:56 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

I want to know how kids know how to do the whole stick lip out, lower lashes thing.

It breaks my heart too. And when I stick MY lower lower lip out, I don't look adorable at all. Which doubly breaks my heart.

10/23/09, 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

Oh, your sweet girl, my heart breaks a little for her. When I was in kindergarten we had the same project and nobody made me a friendship bracelet. I can remember that feeling like it was yesterday. Ugh.

Come to think of it, that's when my mom started what she called the red light failure parties. If someone had a particularly bad day, we'd all go out for ice cream =)

I hope your Thalia forgets about this soon. And next time, I hope the teacher takes the time to make a few friendship bracelets herself for kids like Thalia.

10/23/09, 11:31 AM  
Blogger Maggie Mason said...

Oh, Liz, I'm so sorry. I told my husband the other day that I was so afraid of the day that something like this happens to our kid. I know it will because it happens to all of us, which is why it's so painful to watch our own kids go through it. It's part of how we build empathy I guess.

10/23/09, 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

Ugh. Agree with Christina and Susan that it was the teacher's (no doubt inadvertent) mistake, but I know that doesn't alleviate the hurt that you and your sweet girl are feeling.

10/23/09, 11:45 AM  
Blogger Randi Skaggs said...

As a teacher myself, I urge you to (kindly) tell the teacher about this. I've accidentally done stuff like this, too, and I'm always grateful when parents let me know. Yes, disappointment is part of life, but it doesn't have to be a regular part of pre-K.

10/23/09, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Zen Mama said...

I feel your pain - that is simply the worst to see your little one so sad over something that easily could have been prevented. Hoping a gentle talk with the teacher will prevent any future broken hearts.

BTW - when I was in school, they used to give out candy grams on holidays. I would sit and wait for the door to open with the basket of lollipops, waiting anxiously for someone to send me some love. Never happened. I eventually started sending them to myself; thus began my initial understanding of loving myself first!

My heart goes out to you.

10/23/09, 12:38 PM  
Blogger Average Jane said...

Aaagh, that gives me flashbacks to my own elementary school days.

10/23/09, 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our kids are going to learn the hard lessons in life sooner than we want, whether we want them to or not. They do NOT need to learn them as the result of a preschool art project.

I'm sure that this situation was unforeseen and unintended, but mentioning it to the teacher might be a good idea all the same.

10/23/09, 1:26 PM  
Blogger just making my way said...

Aw that just sucks. Poor, sweet girl.

I'm with the others' who said it was (hopefully) an inadvertent error on the teachers part.

So many tough things to navigate with the little ones!

10/23/09, 3:36 PM  
Blogger Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

This is something I'm not looking forward to as a mom. Poor Thalia. It takes the fun out of making the bracelets in the first place. I agree that you might want to mention it to the teacher. That way other little ones won't have the sad day at school that Thalia had.

10/23/09, 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a hard lesson for such an innocent, sweet soul. Don't you just wish you could clear the path and never let anything like this happen? I hate moments like this!

10/23/09, 8:16 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...


We had something like that happen this past spring, when Emilia was one of a very few kids in her preschool class who didn't get an invitation to a much-discussed and much-anticipated (among her classmates) birthday party. I felt physically ill from the OOF.

So, yeah. Hear you.

10/23/09, 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

My sensitive 4 year old just started preschool this year. I agree that in preK the teacher should have intervened. I don't like the "everybody wins and is awesome" mentality for sports etc. but our little kids are just learning how to develop friendships and their egos are so fragile! Poor sweetie, hope she is feeling better now-I agree, stuff like that is a knife in a mother's heart, even if we 'get it' rationally.

Found your blog via Queen of Spain. :)

10/23/09, 9:52 PM  
Anonymous MDTaz said...

I remember this kind of feeling, when I was a child. It makes me want to do everything I can to keep it from happening to my girls. I want, so badly, to protect them and give them a perfect childhood. But I can't.

I agree the teacher could have thought this true, and really appreciate Randi's (above comment) take on bringing it to the teacher's attention.

And I wonder if these are the little moments where we really get to be purposeful about parenting, when we figure out the right thing to say, or the right question, or how to just be there and help those little souls as they learn, for themselves, how to respond to the knocks of life, which are only going to keep coming..

10/24/09, 5:57 AM  
Blogger Mad Woman said...

Yeah...the teacher should have said for them to make them for someone at home. Preschool is such a learning stage, but there are some things they just do NOT need to learn the hard way. Like this.

10/24/09, 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

I didn't read all the comments so this may have been suggested already. I'm sure she wasn't the only 'bare-wrister'. Talk to the teacher, find out who the other kids were and have your little girl make those kids a bracelet. Knowing that someone felt as bad as she did and doing something to make them feel better will surely cheer her up. She might even make a friend or two.

10/24/09, 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Momastery said...

Awful. Excruciating. No solution, ever. God...imagine middle school. I STILL constantly feel like I'm the only one who didn't get a friendship bracelet.
I guess it could be worse. I guess Thalia could have been the one deciding who was and was not bracelet worthy.

My little guy came home from school the other day and told me that he didn't get picked for a team in PE. I tried to comfort him while throwing up in my mouth.

10/24/09, 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

Heart-breaking, compelling post. You articulate beautifully what so many of us parents have gone through or will go through.

10/24/09, 10:20 AM  
Blogger Bramble said...

That's when the mama bear in me wants to up and start eating the idiots...not the kids. They are just being kids. The teacher should have thought ahead. As the mother of a special needs child I see that lip a lot. All I can tell Beanstalk is that he is worth so much no bracelet (ball game, posse of friends) is big enough to handle it. Still...

10/24/09, 3:30 PM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Oh, no! Sounds like time for a mommy-daughter craft project...

10/24/09, 6:11 PM  
Blogger momtrolfreak said...

owwwwwwch. Poor Thalia! :-(
Frog has a similar situation last year at age almost-3 when he sat down next to his "girlfriend" in class for lunch and she got up and moved next to someone else. he was devastated! Broken kid-heart is the worst.

10/25/09, 9:38 AM  
Blogger Linda Hallam said...

I'm a PhD student in mass communication at the University of Florida and would like to contact you as a leading momblogger for an academic research project.

Please email me at linda.s.hallam@gmail.com so I can send the pertinent information to you.


Linda Hallam

University of Florida

10/25/09, 4:10 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

This just doesn't get any easier, does it? Aces.

10/25/09, 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

I agree with so many of the comments left here; especially that there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your own child heartbroken.... Thalia sounds like a lovely little girl, the sensitive ones are always the best. I wish her a really great week back at school; I'll be hoping something happens there that makes her so happy, she doesn't stop talking about it until it's time for bed, and then settles in to sleep with a huge smile on her face. Yep, the sensitive ones are the best.

10/25/09, 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Twenty Four At Heart said...

Doesn't seem like the wisest choice by the teacher. On the other hand, my daughter just turned 20 and this "slighting" (intentional or not) never, ever stops. I hate to say it ... but it only gets worse. Middle school being the worst age of all for girls. That being said, I love having a daughter and all the girly ups and down that go with it.

10/25/09, 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE that book! The better thing for the teacher to have said would've been, "We're all going to make a bracelet for the person who sits to our right" or something like that.

The book, "You can't say you can't play" is awesome. I used it throughout teaching kindergarten.

10/26/09, 8:50 AM  
Blogger Momma Hunt said...

Oh how sad, I think seeing your child get social "rejected" might be harder then your own rejections.

10/26/09, 2:59 PM  
Anonymous laurellee said...

Teacher should have had the kiddos draw names so everyone got a bracelet. :(

10/26/09, 3:59 PM  
Blogger Colin Wee said...

I agree, you should talk to the teacher and suggest the drawing of names. Some guidance goes a long way to make up for the lack of wisdom.


10/26/09, 9:45 PM  
Anonymous EmmieJ said...

Heartbreaking. Hugs to Thalia and her mama. I agree with the other commenters that this was most likely an unintentional oversight by her teacher but it's worth a gentle mention. One other thing you might try is to turn this experience into a way to reinforce the positive feelings associated with giving, as opposed to the negative ones associated with not receiving. Maybe have her come up with something she can make for all of her friends in her class. Imagine how excited she'll be when her friends are grateful for having received a friendship bracelet (or card or painting) from Thalia. Just a thought.

10/27/09, 9:08 AM  
Anonymous becca said...

I have cried over this a few times in Hannah's short 4 years - I so can empathize. What I have the hardest time with is that I never thought it would start THIS EARLY! I just wasn't prepared with having this type of heartbreak (for her OR me) so soon. Hannah is so sensitive too and there sometimes are just no words to help her... just a hug and luckily they don't hold grudges too long or really remember the sadness because I'm sure tomorrow, she'll be the one with 7 bracelets on her wrist.

10/27/09, 9:13 AM  

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