Poppet: an Antidote to Friends who are not

"They want to play in private," the little girl next door said to me when I asked if she was getting a doll to join my daughter and another neighbor's child, who had dolls and were playing among the fairy forts they had built in the spring.

This kid was hurt. Why wouldn't she be? The cool kids just told her she wasn't good enough for their company. Kicked to the curb, Morgan did the best she could to be cordial to me and to go about her business. In that instant I felt the pain of her rejection. Nothing cuts deeper than a cold shoulder, particularly from a person you hold in your heart as a friend. Such is this little girl's affection for my daughter. I knew, though, that there wasn't any chastising my daughter into compassion and decency then. What greater playground hell is there for a kid than being forced to play with someone of your mother's choosing--other than being that chosen kid. Kindness enforced and imposed is no kindness at all.

"Do you want to make a doll with me?" I asked Morgan. She agreed and I found some yarn and scissors and we worked away on a rainbow poppet with very bad hair. We did our best. "Morgan," I said, "don't waste your time worrying about people who think they're too good for you. Let them worry about themselves."

She nodded and we moved on. We talked about the shepherds' pie her dad was making for dinner. The smell of frying onions filled the air. "Your dad must be good at that; he's doing a good job on the onions," I said. She was quiet as she held the string for my knots and then shook the thing to life. "Looks like she has a grass skirt," she said.

"Thanks for playing with me," I said, and what do you know but my daughter and her friend brought their too-good selves over to see what we were doing and if they could join us. Then Morgan's sister came along during a break from chasing field mice to their ruin. She didn't ask for a doll, but we made one for her. And we opened our circle to the girls with the fancy dolls.

After dinner, Morgan came back to tell me, "That was peppers and onions my dad fried for the shepherds' pie--and there's a strange cat in your garden," and everybody managed to play together for a while.


  1. *smiles* I don't know what to say...

    Too true. We want to creat a bubble and live in it to make ourselves feel special - at the cost of making others feel unspecial...

  2. It was a strange moment for me, perhaps the first time I felt ashamed of my daughter's behavior. I think it's easy to forget what it's like to be on the outside when we are basking on the warmth of the inside. I think, too, that life is challenging enough without discarding friends.


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