So when she started making some real friends in school last year, we were thrilled. We encouraged her to play with her friends at recess, and we had them over to our house to play.
The more we saw of Samantha's friends, the more we realized that her shy nature seemed to attract a certain kind of girl: the obnoxious kind. It seems that bullies have a "shy-girl radar" that draws them to my child like moths to a porch light.
We have talked to Samantha about choosing friends that treat her well, and she has managed to pick a few core girlfriends that are very sweet. But she is in third grade now, and apparently this is the year that girls are officially separated into those who are Bullies and those who are Bullied.
During the first month of school, Samantha was bitten in the neck by a bully. We'll call her "Nicki." Apparently, Nicki was pretending to be a vampire on the playground at school and chomped down on my daughter's neck. Then she told Samantha not to tell anyone.
Samantha was devastated and couldn't concentrate in school the rest of the day. After worrying about it all day, she finally told me what happened. I told the teacher, and things were supposedly taken care of.
I was relieved the situation had been handled quickly, and for several months Samantha didn't have much to do with Nicki. But one day last month, Nicki called our house. Phone calls from girlfriends is another new third-grade development. The girls get on the computer and play a computer game called Webkinz together for hours. I don't usually mind because the game seems very safe, and Samantha is good about getting off the phone when we tell her to.
So when Nicki started calling Samantha to play Webkinz, I simply reminded her to be careful. Nicki is NOT a nice girl. But Samantha said she could be nice sometimes, so I didn't see much harm in it: that is, until I tried to get Samantha off the phone.
One time I told Samantha she needed to do her homework. Samantha told Nicki, and Nicki proceeded to argue with her.
"I'm not getting off the phone," I heard Nicki say.
"I have to hang up," Samantha said.
"Well, I'm going to call Mary. I hope she's home because if she's not I'm calling you back."
"Please don't call back. I'm doing my homework."
They proceeded to argue for at least 5 more minutes until Samantha finally hung up.
Another time, Samantha told Nicki she needed to go because we were going to watch a movie. Nicki asked her why she had to get off the phone for that. Samantha relayed the question to me, and I said (pretty annoyed at this point), "Because I said so." Nicki then kept Samantha on the phone for another 10 minutes saying things like, "What if I just stay on the phone while you watch the movie?" Samantha literally had to hang up on her. She called back AGAIN, and when I answered the phone she hung up.
Another time, Samantha didn't want to talk to her, so we didn't answer the phone. She left us three long, rambling messages begging Samantha to call her back.
This is inappropriate, disrepectful behavior for a teenager, much less a 9-year-old. We are on the verge of having a conversation with Nicki's mother. We haven't heard from her in several days, so I'm hoping she has moved on to another victim.
I know this is only the beginning of the world of friends our kids are going to experience. I have talked to Samantha about how rude Nicki has been, and she doesn't really want to be friends with her anymore. Unfortunately, she doesn't know how to tell Nicki this. So for now we are just holding our breath hoping she "gets the hint."
Photo courtesy S.A.F.E. Network