Posted by: Hannah | 05/23/2014

Pixie undone

I’m concerned about Pixie.

I know, I know, again. But I am.

Recently she’s been showing a lot of ‘mean girl’ tendencies. Very bossy. Constantly demanding that we all make a big fuss over her clothes, and her hair accessories, and her socks. Refusing to take turns. Pouting, whining, and ultimately yelling at Louis for saying “no, CARTER is my best friend. You are just my FRIEND.” Flouncing off in a huff when the other kids don’t play the games she dictates, with the rules she decides. Pretending to cry when disciplined in any way.

I was chalking it up to being in preschool. This is going to sound catty, but there is a very image-conscious group of moms & daughters in that school, and I assumed she’d fallen in with them. All of her behaviours seemed consistent with what I’ve seen from them. Also, and I’m sorry to say this but it’s true, her mom is very much in that mould (“I’m such a diva! I’m so moody!” she’s said to me more than once, as if those are positive traits to brag about) so I figured my own little lessons about kindness and looking beyond the superficial were just getting swallowed.

Yesterday was the annual preschool field trip to the fire station. Parents or guardians or obliging caregivers have to go along on that trip, so there I was with all four kids, hoping like hell that everyone would behave. (They did. It was nice.)

It gave me the opportunity to observe the kids in the preschool environment and that was an eye-opener.

Louis was beyond good. Quiet. Respectful. Participating cheerfully in all of the planned activities. Chatting a bit with the other kids. I was so pleased to see him doing so well.

The It Girls (or Plastics, or Heathers, pick your nomenclature) were all sitting together. High-heeled shoes. Dripping with rings, bracelets, necklaces, flowers in their hair. They were giggling, giving each other elaborate hugs, and being disruptive. I watched as Pixie tried pushing her way into the group, over and over again, as they turned their backs, as they ignored her words and pointedly paid no attention to her. It was painfully obvious that instead of being one of the It Girls, Pixie is not. And she’s hurting because of it.

Suddenly all of her recent unpleasant behaviour at home makes a lot more sense. She’s mimicking what she sees the It Girls doing at school, not because she’s a part of it, but because she isn’t.

Now, this is not a reason to treat the other kids (and me, frankly, although I’m old and can handle it) like garbage. Yesterday afternoon it all came to a head. Pixie was being horrible to each child in turn. Louis finally said sternly “I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU RIGHT NOW. LEAVE ME ALONE.” I kept taking her aside, talking to her calmly about how to be a nice friend, sending her back, watching her push, and whine, and upset the other kids. Eventually the four of them settled into playing restaurant. I exhaled and turned on the teakettle. After five peaceful minutes, this happened:

Pixie: And what can I get for you, George?

George: I would like a cup of tea, please.

Pixie: *pours tea* Here you go. And here is your milk.

George: No, I don’t want milk in my tea.

Pixie: BUT YOU HAVE TO HAVE MILK IN YOUR TEA. TEA HAS MILK.

George: No, I don’t! I don’t like milk in my tea!

Pixie: YES. YES TEA HAS MILK AND YOU WILL HAVE MILK IN YOUR TEA BECAUSE IT HAS TO HAVE MILK!!!

George: *bursts into frustrated tears*

Pixie found herself sitting at the table with a puzzle for the remainder of the day, because I’m having enough doubts about the impact of this whole dayhome thing on my little guy without the stray children actively torturing him for their own amusement.

Anyway, her dad and I had a long chat at pick up time. He admitted that he’d been seeing the same kind of behaviour from Pixie at playgrounds or around friends’ kids. While we agreed that it is sad that she’s already running up against the popular kids at school, we are also in agreement that we can’t allow her to push her bad feelings onto younger kids. As we discussed this with her, she ran through all the tools in her arsenal: she tried changing the subject, fluttering her eyelashes, saying she loved us, hugging her dad’s legs, and pretending to cry.

When her dad said that a bad report today would mean no playground trip on the weekend, that got through. Suddenly the tears were real. I squatted down at her level and reminded her gently that we all love her, that we want to play and be her friend, but that kind words and actions have to happen so that everyone could be happy. I encouraged her to actually go to sleep at bedtime (that’s another issue for another day) and to try again in the morning.

***

It’s now lunchtime. She’s been studiously well-behaved. I’m seeing more smiles, more laughing, and generally a much better attitude. The other kids have responded in kind and we’ve had a successful morning. She claims that she did go to sleep last night when she was supposed to, and certainly she doesn’t have the glassy-eyed look that was her hallmark since the long weekend.

I don’t pretend for a minute that this is the end of the problem. In fact I’m sure that it is not. But at least it’s making for a mostly-peaceful Friday, and right now, I’ll take it.

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Responses

  1. Poor baby. I feel for her. I think Pixie is a generally unpleasant little girl, from your descriptions, but this makes me so sad for her. She sounds like she has a topsy-turvy home life and now school life. No wonder. I hope she’s able to get past it. I’m glad you’re there to help her.

    • She *can* be perfectly fine, when she wants to be and all the stars are aligned, but it’s been happening less and less. There are a couple of little girls at school who LOVE her to pieces, so I’m going to push for a playdate or two with them. Also, most of the worst offenders at school are a year older, and will be ageing out in September – hopefully that will help shift the dynamic a bit.

  2. Youngest is in preschool and I would seriously consider sending her to a different preschool if the place she was going didn’t get on top of the kind of behavior the girls at Pixie’s preschool are engaging in. I know it probably comes from the moms of those girls, so it may be something the preschool can’t really stop. If that was the case, I really would be looking to send Youngest elsewhere. I can barely tolerate that crap with the girls in Oldest’s class (5th grade), having it happen in preschool would be right out.

    • I have no idea if that kind of behaviour is normal, either, or if it was extraordinary because of the circumstances; it was a different setting; during circle time at school they actually sit IN A CIRCLE instead of in a clump on a too-small blanket, which didn’t help; it was mostly the dads who were there instead of the moms that usually do the driving; the teachers were distracted because there were a lot of activities going on led by the firefighters… but I’m definitely going to ask. I’ve been connected with that preschool for years and I’ve never seen anything like that before.

      On the other hand, there are DEFINITELY mom-cliques happening. (I almost blogged about that after one particularly aggravating day, but it sounded like a teenager’s diary entry so I didn’t hit publish). There are in-moms and out-moms, and it’s so junior high it makes me want to scream. I’m quite sure that if it were drawn to the in-moms attention that their daughters were ostracizing other kids, that they wouldn’t care.

      However, you’re right to point it out and I will talk to the teachers about it next week. I’m curious to know if this is the normal way of things.

  3. It’s so frustrating and heart-wrenching to see stuff like that and know that the kid doesn’t have the tools or self-awareness to deal with it properly. Also, wah, poor George, HERE BABY, THERE’s NO MILK IN THIS TEA.

  4. I am so glad her Dad was reasonable about this!


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