Friday, June 27, 2014

Not a Care in the World

So, this post will fit in nicely with my last one...

Alternate title? She's Just Not There Yet...

Sweetie has recently had the chance to reconnect a bit with some girls she used to know as a toddler. These girls are sisters and are both a bit older than Sweetie - one just a year older, the other now starting 9th grade in the fall. I would not particularly classify them as ever being all "friends" together, one - because they were all so young when they more regularly saw each other, and two - they only saw each other, before, because of Hubby and I interacting with their mom on a professional basis. Sweetie and the girls just sometimes happened to be around during these times.

Anyway, now these girls have all reconnected, and they are all surprised to see how much each other has grown. Common for anyone, really, who hasn't seen a kid in a long time. They do grow up, even though you only know them as that cute little toddler from your memory.

Now, this one girl who's now going into 7th grade - as opposed to Sweetie who's about to enter 6th - seems to have grown into a bubbly, bright personality interested in all the "typical" things that girls her age tend to care about. Sports, music, TV shows, movies, the whole pop culture/Hollywood thing. And so, with that, I've listened to her question Sweetie on her interests.

She started off with, "So, what sports do you play." Quite an innocent, fine question. But funny in my eyes - not "do you like sports?" but "what do you play?" The assumption there that of course Sweetie plays something! It's just that Sweetie doesn't play any sports. I felt the need, as I sat nearby, to help Sweetie on by getting her to tell her old/new friend what she did like. So, she said how she likes theater and also does Destination Imagination during the school year. Oh! At least it turned out that this girl was familiar with DI and had some friends of her own who were in it.

But then she kept asking Sweetie questions of the "what's your favorite song/TV show/singer/movie" variety. And for all of it? Sweetie really doesn't care. She likes songs - even likes to listen to the radio in her room a lot of the time - but claims she doesn't have a particular favorite song, singer or band. Sweetie told her that she likes lots of different songs, but doesn't know who sings them.

Sweetie was also asked if she likes the books/movies Divergent or The Fault in Our Stars. Ha! I laughed to myself. No. Reading in general is not high on Sweetie's enjoyment list, and - if it was - it totally wouldn't be the Divergent or Fault in Our Stars type of book she'd go for. More like Harry Potter or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But apparently, this girl has read all the Divergent books twice and, each book took her only 2 days to read. Well, good for her!

On the way home from one of the recent times we saw this girl, and after the first round of this questioning of Sweetie, I tried to talk to Sweetie and, well, comfort and assure her that it was totally okay that Sweetie had no real interest in the singers, stars and activities that this girl did. Everyone is different and that's okay. And you know what Sweetie said?

"What? It sounds like your trying to comfort me and tell me it's okay that I don't like what she likes. I know that, Mom! I'm totally fine!"

Well, okay then. My work here is done.

Since that time, we've seen this girl once more. And Sweetie was grilled again on what shows she likes, mostly. We, though, don't have "regular" TV and only watch specific things we choose to watch through our Hulu or Netflix accounts. And so The Billboard Awards show that was just on, for instance, wasn't even an option for us to watch. And all the Disney preteen type shows Sweetie was asked about? Well, she's never really seen them enough to care about seeking them out to watch. So, no. No real favorite TV shows either. We tend to watch fun family shows in the evenings that we can all agree upon and enjoy together.

Now, could Sweetie have mentioned how much she likes playing Minecraft and watching all the Minecraft related videos she can find on Youtube? Sure she could have. But I think Sweetie got the sense that this girl was probably not a Minecraft type of girl, so she just stayed clear of bringing it up.

And so, there's that. Sweetie's just not there yet in terms of interest in the "popular" things her peers care about.

Beyond this, though, is the fact that Sweetie is just not there yet in terms of how she presents herself in front of her peers.

Sweetie, for instance. is a cryer. If she's upset, or hurt in any way or, mad, she will cry. And have an attitude. In front of us or other family. And in front of friends. At school. Wherever she is, her emotions show through. Without a care in the world about what anyone else will think about it - Sweetie will show and tell anyone exactly as she's thinking and feeling.

This, you and I can both argue, is a perfectly wonderful quality to have. She doesn't care! She's not inhibited by peer pressure! She will do and be and act exactly as she pleases no matter what. It is a great thing! Go, Sweetie!

Yes, all true.

But, it can also, I imagine, make her peers feel uncomfortable around her or plain old not like her because "she's such a baby." Not that I've ever heard another kid say this about her, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is what some of them thought.

And, quite frankly, it angers and embarrasses Hubby and I when she acts this way in public and we have to talk to her - in front of friends/family/her peers/whoever about her poor attitude and behavior. It's just not fun for anyone.

We've been picking Sweetie and her friend/classmate/cast mate up from late tech week rehearsals for the show they're both in starting this weekend. A couple of nights ago, it was raining at pick up time. Sweetie didn't have an umbrella or raincoat, so she - like all the other kids - got a little wet as they ran to their parents' cars to go home. While Sweetie's friend quickly got in the car and out of the rain as fast as she could, Sweetie - who "hates getting wet when I don't want to!" stood out in the rain, at the car door, and refused to touch the door handle to let herself in because the handle was wet!! So, instead of getting out of the rain that she hated, she stayed in the rain until she finally bucked up enough courage - or anger or whatever - to touch the handle to help herself get in!


And then, of course, she was verbally upset and, if not truly bawling, then at least quite teary, as the car ride finally got underway to bring her friend and her home.

All the while, her friend sitting silently, most likely not knowing what in the world to do while Sweetie had her mini breakdown.

Then last night at pick up time, Sweetie and friend got in the car - this time with Sweetie teary and upset about a bad headache that she had. And so, another uncomfortably silent (except for Sweetie's aggrieved declarations every once in awhile) ride got underway.

Unfortunately, I think this month of everyday practices and several shared rides has done nothing to foster a better friendship between these two girls who used to (years ago) call themselves "best friends." Now, I think they are merely pleasant with each other. Friendly, perhaps, but not friends. Mostly because of the different stages of emotional development that they are in. (Beyond what we've experienced with the car ride behavior, Sweetie has told us that the two of them hang out with different groups of people during rehearsal breaks and generally aren't interested in the same types of things anymore.)

All this to say - yeah, Sweetie's just not there yet in terms of caring what others think or taking any interest in "popular" peer activities or subject matter. But, you know? I'm not sure I ever really see Sweetie caring what other's think about her (too much, anyway) or the popular activities of the time. Sweetie is just Sweetie. She likes what she likes and does what she does.

Yes, she can be bored. Lonely. She can even feel like no one likes her or cares about what she's feeling. I've seen all of that. But that's still all about her. What she's feeling, not others. Sweetie will not compromise either. She will not bend or adjust her interests just so she fits in better with a particular person or crowd. And she will not hold in her thoughts if she feels she's being treated unfairly or not getting the attention she wants. To the surprise of those around her, Sweetie will stand up for herself at all costs to let you know what's what. And if you don't like it - well, Sweetie's not even thinking about that. Sorry. She just wants what she wants, end of story.*

I know that's part of growing up. Realizing that other's opinions and feelings matter. Caring what others think and not wanting to make yourself stand out so much, not wanting to be so different from your peers. Doing what you can to make others feel comfortable and happy, and having it be less about what you as an individual want. And, some days, I guess I do see this in Sweetie. It's coming, a little bit. But not quite. For the most part, no, not yet.

She's just not there yet. And that's totally fine.

My - our - work here continues on...


* Back for a little bit of clean up.

I feel bad. It's wrong of me to say that Sweetie is all about herself with no care for others. This is not true even most of the time, let alone the "all of the time" I think this post seems to indicate. I have more than certainly seen Sweetie be caring and very, very thoughtful of others. In fact, in terms of these rides home from theater rehearsal I've talked about here, it impresses me beyond measure that, every night (alas, except for the one night it was raining), Sweetie gets out of the car at her friend's house and walks her to the door. Whether her friend really wants that or not, and even though their true friendship seems to be waning, Sweetie knows it's the nice and right thing to do. Very sweet and caring, indeed.

Many, many posts I write here illustrate the caring, sweet girl that Sweetie can be. Most of the time, yes, she can be and truly is someone who thinks beyond herself for the benefit of others. I especially remembering one post where I noted how Sweetie wanted to help - of all people - the one girl in her class who obviously did not like her. Wow! Now that's something! But to Sweetie? It was just the right thing to do.

That said, it's those times when Sweetie is upset in some way or another that everything goes wonky. When she's upset, it's all about her and she doesn't care who knows it. Yes, this can be true for anyone - especially kids. But I also think that kids of her age bracket are trying their hardest to hold in their intense feelings, trying to "be cool" and not show they're hurt as much as they really are. Sweetie doesn't do that. Sweetie doesn't care. When she's upset, you will know it, no matter who you are or where she is.

Sweetie - she loves bigs, and she hurts big. She tries to be as good as she can and as helpful and caring as she can, and it hurts her in a big way when others don't treat her well and act in the same.

And what's so bad about that?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

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