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conversations from Rhinebeck October 21, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — katy @ 10:26 am

I had some interesting conversations with Gracie when we went to Rhinebeck. With the chaos of life and the intensity of Owen’s needs–Cameron and Gracie do tend to get a bit overlooked. Gracie, amazing child that she is, tries not to burden me with her problems. Repeatedly, I have told her I want to know, I will make time but she is so mature for her age and often chooses otherwise. I was all hers on Sunday though. Yes, we listened to a book on tape but I also just listened to her.

Gracie has some difficulties at school with the other girls. How can anyone not remember what that is like? I was practically friendless from 4th to 6th grade. We have moved so many times and Gracie has so many experiences that other children do not. Some of the girls are outright awful. One such girl spread rumors that Gracie has autism. Sigh. The latest–and not so greatest–are the playground antics. Instead of monkey bars and kickball, the girls are playing therapy and manicures. Don’t forget your reservation. Instead of Red Rover and tag, the girls are playing massage and yoga. Oh my goodness, what do the mom’s in my town do with their spare time??

Gracie and I talked about what it is like being different. I relished being different–in high school and college. It isn’t as easy to be different in elementary and middle school. Gracie said, "Yea, I stick out like a sore thumb." I told her I didn’t see it that way. I told her she stuck out in a unique and wonderful way. I assured her that if she chose to be more like the other girls, in order to get by, I would understand but I would be right by her side too if she kept at it–as is. She wants to remain true to herself and I adore her for it.

And in that line of thinking, a What Kind of Girl Are You? quiz.


19 Responses to “conversations from Rhinebeck”

  1. Anita Says:

    You’re such a great mom! Gracie has a great guide for some tough years ahead…gosh, it’s hard to be a girl!

  2. Wendy Says:

    I too grew up in a home with a younger brother who had/has, among other things, developmental issues. It’s easy to get passed over as a sibling. I commend you for recognizing it and taking the time to communicate with your daughter. The fact that she talks with you and speaks her mind at that age is a huge feat. I only wish I had had the same support!

  3. Margene Says:

    I too was out of place but that continued all through school and into college. You are a wonderful mother to talk about it with Gracie. My mom had no clue.

  4. Annie Says:

    It sounds like Gracie is pretty sure of herself and she must get her confidence from you. I’ve said it before, but you really are a wonderful mom!

    You know that we have been through the middle school drama, and (knock wood) so far this year, it has been drama-free. Maybe sixth grade is a tough grade~ transitions and all. But, I agree with you~ once she gets to high school and college, she will be fine. I’ve been talking to some moms of high school age kids (9th grade), and they say that by then, the petty stuff is usually out of the way.

    But, I seriously can’t imagine playing “therapy and manicures” during recess?!?

  5. Cyndy Says:

    We have a very similar grade five girl problem here too. Like you, we have moved alot and this is a small town where some kids have been together since the day they were born. My Grace was recently summoned to “recess court” by two girls who were friendly with her last year. She didn’t go to court to find out what her offense was. I think that talking with you helps. I encourage her interests. I’ve got a serious violinist in a marching band town!They will be more interesting adults.

  6. Angi Says:

    Yea Gracie!!! Strong independent girls grow into strong independent women. What a great mom you are to encourage your daughter and love her no matter what her choices are! Blessings to you both!

  7. Mary Beth Says:

    My daughter is having a lot of this stuff with girls at school (6th grade – first year of Middle School). She is starting to figure it out though – that being a “popular girl” is not it’s all cracked up to be. You would like to protect them from the hurt feelings, but it is a part of growing up. Good for you for connecting with her. I thought she seemed like a sweet, confident child in Rhinebeck!

  8. Laurie Says:

    Is this something you could discuss with her teacher? Those girls sound like they could use a good service project or two to get themselves less focused on themselves.

    For so many females it’s all about the external image–it’s what our culture/media promotes so heavily. Young girls really have to be deliberatly taught that there is more to life than pampered self-indulgence, money, and looks.

  9. JoAnne Says:

    I started to write and ask how old Grace was but the comments filled me in. I’m glad you are talking to each other 🙂 I have a 6th grader (11) who is in middle school (starts in 5th grade here). We’ve been having a tough time of it – she’s so argumentative! And rude! And she’s NEVER been one to just gab on about her day, so while I always know the logistics, I rarely know the details of interactions. Asking doesn’t get me anywhere, of course. Last night she was just so IMPOSSIBLE but we began to talk, and there’s just so much pressure, I guess – she said she feels angry all the time. She’s not having trouble with friends, per se, more with feeling powerless. She doesn’t THINK before she speaks and she doesn’t seem to connect one day to the next, consequence wise…are you seeing any of this?

  10. Donna Says:

    Obviously all of us mothers of preteens can understand exactly what you and Gracie are going through, reading these comments!
    Therapy, manicures, massages and yoga???? What’s really worrisome is that their mothers probably don’t see a problem with that. Have you read “Queen Bee’s and Wannabes”? Not a cure all, but definitely worth a read. My Em has a very small group of friends, and the workings of the group astound me. She readily admits that she doesn’t like one of the girls, but the others do, so she stays friends with her. From one day to the next, the power struggles and shifts would give the government a run for their money.
    She starts High School next year (Year 7 here), and she is going to a different HS than most of her friends, and I must admit that I’m glad, and hoping that she’ll make new friends.
    What I’m afraid of (but would never tell her!) is that she’ll make none.
    I’m so glad Gracie can talk to you, and feel your love and support!
    Does she want an Australian snail mail penfriend? Emily would love it, if Gracie is interested. 🙂

  11. ann Says:

    I think Gracie is a lovely, self-possessed young lady. I hope she sticks to the monkey-bars – overgrown cuticles are a small price to pay for the joys of swinging by your knees!

  12. Collette Says:

    Katy, Gracie is lucky to have you to talk to. I remember being that age and feeling the same way–fish out of water. I’m glad you got to spend the day together, just the two of you. On another subject, today’s NY Times has an interesting article on families with autistic children. It also has a multimedia slideshow associated with it in which photos are accompanied by a voiceover by one of the parents referenced in the article. Just thought you might be interested.

  13. Amy Says:

    Oh. I remember feeling just like Gracie in elementary/middle school. When I hit high school I had decided that being strange was great. The good news about this is that kids that are considered strange by the “in” peer pressure kids are often the ones that are most interesting and happy later on. Must be something about having empathy and learning to be yourself! Good luck with these tough years.

  14. Joanne Says:

    Katy, you sure are doing a great job at mothering. And trips together are something I heartily recommend for the quiet lost in the shuffle child.

    During the years when my older son’s depression was a big source of worry in our house, I took my younger son away on several short trips, by car and by plane. Even with my older kid, long car commutes to martial arts was sometimes the only way I could get him to talk. Much of my best parenting was done in a minivan.

  15. Amy Says:

    Katy, I am typing through tears (which is not uncommon when I read your blog – your writing about life tends to move me.) From fourth grade till high school graduation, I was the kid who didn’t fit in, anywhere. Unfortunately for me, my parents were so concerned with why I didn’t fit in to recognize that fitting in was never in the cards for me. Gracie is so lucky to have you as a mom.

  16. Norma Says:

    Gracie IS so lucky to have you as a mom. My daughter is 2nd year in college, and the wounds from middle school have still not yet healed. She went away to boarding school, a wonderful place that she found on her own, because the wounds here were so deep for her. She found herself and people like her at the high school she attended, and she is happy as a clam at college. But those years are so tough. And miraculously, she had a few core, active, and true friends that she stayed in touch with locally, so when she was/is home on break, she has that. But she still has a pretty bad association with the middle school scene and those people that made her life so difficult. What is it about girls that age — and now it is spilling over into the boys, btw, a relatively new phenomenon — or at least we are only recognizing it now. One of my nephews is going through it now. So hard.

  17. Sharon Says:

    I’ve spent the last 22 years of my life in a middle school, and it saddens me that we just can’t seem to get past the cruelty that girls can show each other. Keep talking to her, Katy. Your words and your strength will get her through the tough times.

  18. Jennifer Says:

    BUMMER! I wish I would have been more organized before Rhinebeck – I´m so disappointed I didn´t get to meet you in person. Just the same, it does sound like you had a full day and Gracie sounds like such a blessing. I just love those special mother-child moments. Keep up the good work.

  19. Orli Says:

    Oh man…kids can be sooooh…but you are GREAT! and so is Gracie, she sounds very level headed to me I love what you said to her, that is so true.
    I know what it’s like to be friendless, the online world has saved me from that…but it’s still sometimes lonely here…I escape to my computer. Gosh, what will I need to face when my kid starts school.
    I’ll go take that quiz now. =)

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