The drive to be alpha female starts early. The playground of a 6-year-old girl, based on my non-scientific observations, looks much like Survivor Island, but with better food. Forming alliances is key to survival in the game, and immunity can be granted by receiving the status of ‘Best Friend’ for the day. That girl will NOT be voted off.
Girls at 6 are tricky. They’re battling it out, without knowing what ‘it’ is. It’s like a biological imperative kicks in once a girl goes to school, and realises just how many of HER there are. It’s a time of incredible transition, negotiating interpersonal relationships and playground politics, without mum or dad to retreat to if things turn bad. Meanwhile, their brains are not yet sufficiently developed to be able to emotionally process much of the behaviour they just DO or the emotions they just FEEL.
Sux to be six.
I’d be intrigued to read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies written about girls instead of boys. Instead of killing the pig and throwing rocks, they’d probably send girls off one by one crying alone until there were two or three of them left huddled around their pile of berries, fighting over who deserved more and telling each other they were unicorns and would be best unicorn friends forever.
Little L’s quest for a boyfriend this year, in KINDERGARTEN, surprised me at first. She’s now had three. One moved back to England telling my mum he had serious intentions to marry her since they were in love. Shame. He was sweet. I think she’s actually just looking to form an alliance in her playground Survivor Island, and boys are straightforward. They say crappy stupid things and laugh at you, but they do it to your face so you have the chance to do it right back, then punch each other and go and play again. Safe friendship.
Funnily, biology came into play even in Little L’s next choice of mate. She thought she’d marry the next one purely ‘because he looks strong. He looks like he could lift beds’. Cos lifting beds is… um… very important in a life partner. Good decision sweetheart.
My heart is heavier about this playground crap than my words suggest. Little L has had a rough 6 months. She’s come home sad, excluded, yelled at, and with nobody to play with. She has differences, for sure, with her diabetes and wearing glasses, but I don’t like to think this is responsible. Her two beautiful best friends – one who now lives in Coffs Harbour, and another in San Francisco, see through that and love her properly. She’s missing their closeness and unconditional acceptance. No wonder she’s turning to boys. They accept quickly because there is the important business of playing to get on with.
I don’t want to scare any of you sending your baby girls off to kindy this year for the first time. This stuff only happens later in the year, and not to everyone, and only once they’ve got everything else (like getting to school on time (*cough cough*) down pat. If you can though, prep those little velcro-strapped munchkins as best you can, and encourage your little girls to be kind, strong, and above all, INCLUSIVE of everyone who wants to play.
I hope 2014 is a better year for Little L. I’m going to teach her that being a Beta girl or any kind of girl (or even a unicorn, if that’s what she wants to be) is pretty awesome, because then you can do whatever you want, without worrying about what anyone thinks.
Has anyone come out into the land of 7-year-olds yet? Does it get better or worse?