Let me explain to you how Sofia’s school morning drop off routine works. All the kids meet in the gym. This is done for safety reasons. Each class has their designated spot. Every day Sofia goes to her designated spot where her class sits, while I stand back against the wall, waiting to hear the morning announcements before starting my day.
Yesterday, Sofia and I got to school a bit earlier than usual. I tell her goodbye. Sofia goes to take her spot on the floor, while I grab my coffee and take my spot on at the wall, right behind her class. I am doing the usual. Checking messages on my phone, checking Facebook, and planning my day. Every now and then I glance up and make sure Sofia is doing okay.
Now, Sofia cannot see me unless she turns around, but I have a perfect view of her and her class. This is when I noticed it. Sofia is sitting next to a group of five girls. All five girls are talking to each other, but no one is talking to Sofia. I put away my phone and pay better attention to what may or may not be happening in front of me. Five minutes pass. Still, no one is talking to Sofia. Ten minutes pass. Still, no one is talking to her.
I start to wonder what is going on. Did something happen between Sofia and her fellow classmates? Is Sofia sitting there, feeling embarrassed because she has no one to talk to? Should I go over there? Of course, I cannot go over there! My heart is hurting for my ten-year-old daughter. I remember my days in elementary school. On the bus, at lunch, even in the classroom, no one would ever talk to me. I felt dumb, I felt there was something wrong with me. The last thing I want is for my own daughter to go through that.
A teacher, who is also a friend, makes her way over to me. She has some PTA questions. Right before she leaves, I ask her “Lisa, look at Sofia, does she look okay? Do you think it’s concerning none of the other girls are talking to her?”
Lisa takes a moment to evaluate the situation.
“I think it is fine. Remember, Sofia is not a big talker, typically she does not like people. I have no doubt that if Sofia inserted herself into the conversation, those girls would talk to her. In some ways, Sofia is socially awkward, but she is fine, there is nothing to worry about, I will keep an eye out for you!”
I could feel the tears coming. In mere moments I would be standing there talking to Lisa in a gym filled with 300 plus children….and staff, crying. Quickly, I take my scarf and wipe away my tears. “Lisa, say something funny, I cannot have anyone see me cry!” It took Lisa a whopping five seconds to utter the words “Well, I for one think it is hilarious that you do not know how to cook.”
Mission accomplished! I was now laughing. Trying to fix my makeup, but laughing. “You good?” “Yes, I am good, thank you.”
I spent the rest of the day thinking about Sofia. How was her day? Does she have anyone to play with at recess? What about lunch? I mean I know there is assigned seating at lunch, but who wants to eat lunch and not have anyone to talk to? I used to eat lunch in the bathroom because I did not want anyone to see I was “that” kid who had no friends. The same cannot happen with Sofia.
At the end of the day, I am back at the school waiting to pick Sofia up. Prepared to do any sort of damage control that I may need to do. I will even order pizza for dinner if that’s what it takes to lift her spirits. I had Gracie with me. If anyone can give Sofia a boost of confidence, Gracie can. I mean just this week Gracie got in trouble for telling a boy to “mind your own damn business.” Gracie is my perfect wingman.
There I am. Sitting at the table in the school foyer. Gracie is bored out of her mind, and we are waiting for Sofia. I am nervous, kind of sad, not sure what to expect.
Finally, Sofia and her class make their way down the hall. It’s the moment of truth….
“Hi Mom, Hi Gracie!
“Hi Sofia, how was school?”
“Mom, seriously, it was the best day ever. I never in my years at school had such a good day at school.”
“Let’s go, I will tell you all about it in the car.”
Gracie is looking at me like I am nuts, while Sofia has the biggest smile on her face.
In the car I ask Sofia “So tell me about your day, why was it the best day ever?”
“I don’t know mom, it was just different. I had so much more confidence and I wasn’t shy. it was just a good day! How about you, how was your day?”
I figured it was not the best of times to tell her I was crying ugly tears in the gym because I was worried about her.
“Oh, you know, the usual.”
Joe is already home by the time I get home with the girls. We walk in the door, and Joe ask “How was everyone’s day?”
“It was the best day ever dad, just amazing!”
Joe glances at me, expecting me to elaborate. I got nothing.
While the girls are talking to Joe, I sneak outside to call Christin. I give her the rundown of everything I just talked about here.
After a few moments of gathering her thoughts, she said to me “Jen, it’s important to remember that our kids have their own experiences, their own feelings, their own highs and their own lows. We have to give them their own space and not assume they are going to deal with their problems the same way we did.”
After much overthinking, I came to the conclusion that both Lisa and Christin are right. Sofia chooses not talk to some people. Not because she does not like them, maybe because she is just getting ready for her day, and prefers to do that in silence.
A situation that I took as a negative, was really nothing. It had no impact on Sofia’s day. She did not even mention it. The moral of the story, Sofia is okay. She is more than okay. Sofia is coming into her own, in her own way. What may have shattered me as a child, does not have the same effect on Sofia.
As for me, I need to learn to let go of my fears. I need to realize that my past experiences and how I reacted to them will not be hers. My kids, they are just a better version of me.
And that is exactly how it should be.