EPIC BG: I talk about DD here a lot. She's 8. She's a bright, quirkily funny, well-spoken, gorgeous, slightly weird (that's my genes at work) kid who is adored by most of the adults she meets. Except for that guy she corrected at the grocery store this week. She has good friends her own age at school, but for some reason she picks "aloof" or high-maintenance kids to be her BFFs. It's like she knows the good kids like her, so she wants the challenge of chasing after the hard-to-get kids' approval. She invests way more emotional energy and consideration into the relationship than they do and her feelings get hurt.
We talk a lot about not being able to control the actions/emotions of other people, of not giving away more emotional energy (or toys) than she could stand not getting back. But she's 8. It takes adults a while to learn these lessons.
This has been exacerbated over the past year by her friendship with a girl named Kayla. Kayla is the Ultimate One-UpperTM. It doesn't matter what you do, have or where you go, Kayla does, has or goes somewhere better. I was shocked the first time she came to our house, by the sheer number of "one-ups" and made a game of counting them, just so I wouldn't get so frustrated that I asked her to leave.
"How big is your house? I'm pretty sure ours is bigger and nicer."
"My dad has a better job than your dad."
"You only have two trendy, super-overpriced stuffed animals? I have seven."
Kayla absolutely cannot stand for anyone to have or do anything more interesting than she has. So she feigns boredom or disgust with DD's things or activities. I.E. "You take swimming lessons? That's lame. Everybody should just know how to swim." or "You went to the Bahamas on your last vacation? We went there two years ago, it was boring." (I know for a fact this kid has never been to the Bahamas.)
Add to that, Kayla doesn't reciprocate invitations and when we take her places, doesn't treat DD very nicely.
I'm sort of done with Kayla.
I don't want to turn this into a Romeo and Juliet thing, where I make Kayla that much more attractive by banning DD from playing with her. But I do have long conversations with DD about not putting up with bad treatment from friends and devoting emotional energy to people who appreciate it. Just when I think I've driven my point home, Kayla makes some grand gesture, like inviting DD for a sleepover, and I'm back to square one.
We recently had several new families move into the neighborhood with kids DD's age. By some miracle, all of the kids seem very sweet-natured and play well with DD. I've tried to encourage those friendships as much as possible. A set of siblings in particular is super-well-behaved, invite DD over almost every day, are FASCINATED with DD's sense or humor and activities and love coming to our house to visit. And when they are here, they are absolute, not-in-a-suck-up-way angels. I was so moved by their kind treatment of DD that I took the kids to lunch the other day as a special treat.
We were sitting at the restaurant and I was asking if the new kids had time to meet/play with some of the other kids in the neighborhood. Sweet Kid Sister said yes, and started listing them. She made a sort of sour face and said, "And Kayla." DD got an excited look on her face and I could tell she was about to pipe up with stories of her friendship with Kayla, and then Sweet Kid Sister said, "I don't like playing with Kayla. She always talks about how she has a better toys or a nicer car than us. I don't want to hear that. She's kind of mean."
DD's face fell into a sort of contemplative funk and she was quiet for a while. I've given her a few days to think about what Sweet Kid Sister said, but I want to know, at this point, is it wrong to use SKS's statement to drive my point home about Kayla's tendencies? Or should I just let it ride and see how it all works out? I think that if I let DD spend more time with the other kids, she will see what good friendships are like and I won't have to alienate her by picking on her "best friend." But at the same time, I don't know when this sort of object lesson will come along again.