8 Mar

So in the girls’ elementary school they’ve been teaching them to use “I messages” to work out their problems with their peers.  The idea is that if you have a problem with someone, the best way to deal with it is to let them know how you feel and why, and then tell them how you wish the problem could be resolved.

They’re using this model:

I feel _____________ when you ______________.  I wish _______________.

Last week Goose came home from school upset that her friends hadn’t played with her at recess.  Her BFF is in her class again this year (4th year running, including preschool), but she’s been branching out a bit and making some new friends too.  There’s one girl in particular that she’s been excited about.  They’ve been spending a lot of time together, have had outside of school play dates, etc.  But last week this new friend spent a couple recesses playing with the BFF instead of Goose.

I tried to console her as best I could, suggesting that they could all play together and be friends.  Goose’s problem was that they didn’t want to play what she wanted to play and she didn’t want to play what they were playing.  I explained that sometimes friends have to make compromises and take turns choosing activities, but she was bent and decided that things were going along just fine until the BFF butted in to the nice little recess arrangement she had going with the new friend.

The next morning, as I was packing Goose’s lunch into her backpack, I found this note:

Dear BFF,

Please stop! Your taking all my friends. Whenevever we are in a class together I make a friend and you steel it. I feel lonley when you take my friends and I wish you can make new friends.


After I stopped laughing, I thought this probably wasn’t exactly what her teacher had in mind when she presented the class with the “I message” strategy. I told Goose that I was a little worried about the note she had written to her BFF. Her response was, “But I’m using my ‘I message’.” I told her that I thought it was great that she was trying to tell her friend how she was feeling, but that perhaps she could be a little more careful with the words she used. Although I could understand where she was coming from, suggesting that her BFF make her own friends didn’t seem like the best solution to the problem.

I found it a little tricky trying to explain to my 8 year old the nuances of sharing your true feelings with your friends. Yes, honesty is important, but honesty must always be tempered with compassion, especially if you’re hoping to maintain the friendship. And words can never be taken back. Sure, apologies and forgiveness can be given and received, but the words leave their mark—you can erase the pencil, but the impressions remain on the page.

When I’m hurt or offended, my first instinct is to go on the defense, assigning bad intentions to the actions of my offender. But often times, that’s just not the case. Often times our friends’ actions are born out of negligence rather than maliciousness. (Not that negligence is okay, but I think we’re all guilty of a little carlessness from time to time and should cut each other some slack.)  I’ve tried to make the benefit of the doubt my default response to prevent me from suffering later regret with a knee-jerk reaction that may prove unjustified as the details of the situation unfold. (Plus I think we all know by now what a healthy/unhealthy imagination I have. I can weave entire dramatic scenarios with little to no provocation.)

Of course, I don’t want to teach my children to be doormats. I would hope that they could stand up for themselves and protect their feelings and self-esteem. But past experience and my own mistakes and regrets have taught me that when it comes to friendship, it’s always best to err on the side of kindness.

Goose started to write a new note, but in the end decided to just try to work things out with her friends. She came home from school that day perfectly happy. Recess had been fine. In fact, when I asked her how things went she looked at me funny, like why would I even be asking.

Is it possible to raise girls without the drama?

Classic Dramarama:


16 Responses to “Dramarama”

  1. Susan M March 8, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    I love this song.

    And no, it’s not possible. Girls = drama.

  2. Alison Wonderland March 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    I’m with Sue, girls=drama

  3. madhousewife March 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m very grateful that I have seven years between my girls. Perhaps there will be a little breather between the drama-fests.

  4. flip flop mama March 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Great song. I remember thinking this way when I was a kid. I was kind of protective of my friendships and usually only had one BFF at a time so when that person would play with someone else I would get a little upset. Wow that was a really long run-on sentence. Thankfully I’ve gotten better over the years and can share my friends. Anyway, I agree that there is no way around girls and drama.

  5. shazbraz March 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Love Dramarama. Hate girladrama.

  6. Mother of the Wild Boys March 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I feel _happy_ when you _blog_. I wish _I could be as awesome as you_!!

  7. tawnya March 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    I should tell the story one day of the way my BFF in grade school broke up with me. Including a dum dum sucker, a note placed along the route I took to the bus…

    LOVE this song.

  8. Julie March 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    I don’t remember having drama as a kid, but wow do my girls have drama. Dramaramadingdong.

    How does one explain the nuances of anything to any kid under the age of, say, 30?

  9. bythelbs March 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    Susan—Me too! And I’m afraid you’re right.

    Alison—I guess that should make me feel better–like I’m not necessarily doing something wrong with my own girls, but somehow the inevitability of it isn’t super comforting, especially considering I have 3 girls.

    Mad—With all three girls in a row, no breather for me! But I would say you’re entitled to any breather you can get.

    Flip—Jealousy is the mother of all girl drama, I think.


    Mother—What a lovely “I message”. Thank you.

    Tawnya—Was the note something like, “I feel angry when you are a dum dum and I wish you would get run over by a school bus”?

    Julie—That’s probably a more realistic age limit.

    • tawnya March 9, 2010 at 11:16 am #

      No, but now I sincerely wish it had because that would have been WAY cooler.

  10. MaryAnn March 9, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Your title made me think of “Lamma drama” – have your read those ADORABLE kids books?

    Anywho, I never had to worry – you were always the bestest BFF ever! 🙂

    • bythelbs March 9, 2010 at 11:25 am #

      I haven’t seen those kids books. I’ll have to look for them. And ditto! I don’t remember ever having an argument with you. Ever!

  11. boquinha March 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    By the way, this is hysterical. But yeah, so not a fan of drama. AT all.

    • bythelbs March 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

      I was heartily amused as well. I didn’t even tell you about the letter she wrote to her other friend. A nice companion to the first one. Equally as dipolmatic.

      • Boquinha March 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

        Oooh, do we get to hear it? 🙂

  12. boquinha March 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Grrr. Posting this comment just so I can do the subscribe thing because I don’t think it went through the first time.

    I mean . . . Blog, I feel cranky when you don’t subscribe me the first time. I wish you would subscribe me when I tick the box when I first comment.

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