The Runaway Head Game
I swear my daughter learns more about life on the playground than she does in the classroom. I learn what she learns when she takes the time to teach me--usually from the backseat of the car. She's my walking self-improvement CD.
This week's lesson: how to handle friends who walk away for no reason at all.
Adella has a friend who doesn't handle groups well. When there are three or four girls hanging together at recess, this friend will run off and pout.
Adella has in the past followed behind to find out what the matter might be. For her trouble, she gets a long face and a shrug. Off goes the girl to some other outpost of the playground.
This went on for a short while before my daughter realized that was the game: to see if she cared enough about this friend to leave the group and do exactly what she did.
"Maybe she just needs that reassurance that you're her friend," I offered.
"Well, I am her friend. And it hurts my feelings when she turns her back on me and runs away."
"You don't need to run after anybody," I said. "Just let her back in when she comes back and don't say anything about how she ran away. Let it go."
Adella had already decided not to run in circles anymore. "That's what I already do, mom." That a girl. Just let mommy catch up.
I wish I had mastered this lesson when I was nine: being a friend doesn't mean begging for friendship. There's many an adult out there who will play this little girl's game to the death. No matter what you do, you do wrong. They are like lazy fishermen who drop the bait of friendship in the water and then snooze under their hats for as long as they like. When they've had enough, they pull the line and walk away, sure you will be just as hungry--if not hungrier--the next time they bait the hook. They play with the basic human need to feed on the kindness of friendship.
When you move on and find some stable source of nourishment, they wonder what might be wrong with you that you are not there to starve in their presence. Never does it occur to them that you do not feel blessed by their their offering of the opportunity to starve.
My daughter has a natural ability, it seems, to take things as they are and let them be. She won't allow herself to be made miserable, and she doesn't make anybody miserable. It's all so simple: see it for what it is, let it be, be a child of peace.
Where'd I get her?