Tour de Flee...pause, rewind: a Letter to my Daughter

So right about now is when, historically, I would be posting scads of pictures with piles (small or large!) of handspun yarn that I've been cranking out over the last twelve days. However, this post is going to be about, and to, my oldest child:

Dear Devil,

Yesterday was your last day of school for the year. That is an exciting thing, but this year I think it's particularly important to stop and take stock of what you've experienced this year, and acknowledge that it has been Very Hard.

In September, you bravely set off to start Year 3 at a new school. Hard enough, right? But further complicated by the fact that you were moving from a school with one class in your year group (of three year groups) to a school with five classes in your year group, and six (!) years worth of students. In other words, from a school of about 55 kids (not including the Nursery because really, they're too young) to a school of more then 300.

The first time you cried in the car on the way home because your best friend said she wasn't going to be friends with you anymore was in late November, and it absolutely broke my heart. We had endless discussions about how sometimes people say things, without realising they may really hurt someone's feelings, and that it was important to remember that friendships fluctuate, and people change. It's helped that the time course of relationship changes in your peer group is on the order of hours or days rather then longer, and who your best friend is can change over the course of lunch.

Over the course of the last two terms your attitudes and responses to the vagaries of 8 year old girl social dynamics have changed so much that I feel a bit like I've gotten whiplash as you've rushed by. Now, you can tell me about who your new BFF is, and who is friends with whom, and who's not, and all the intricate ins and outs of the social hierarchy with relative equanimity. I can not begin to express how big this is for you, and how much time and work you've put in to getting there.

But here's the thing: for an extremely bright, self-confident little girl you have a remarkably thin skin. I don't think I realised how sensitive you are until this year, when my approach of "Oh well, never mind, she'll be friends with you tomorrow..." was met with floods of tears and general hysteria as if the world was ending. Because for you, the world was ending, in a way: it is critical to your happiness that you have a best friend, someone you can count on to have lunch and play with on the playground and sit with in class. Maybe it's the age, maybe it's the change in the size of your peer group, maybe it's the combination of Very Strong Personalities amongst the girls in your class in particular, but the whole mix has been something of a perfect storm of pre-teen drama.

The most important change I think I've seen in you this year is this: your sensitivity, while still there, has been tempered with a bit of distance, and the experience that even if J says you're not her friend anymore today, by the end of the week the two of you will be thick as thieves again. You are a lovely, loving little girl who has managed to come through a serious social challenge with her confidence intact and strengthened. And I am so proud.

Love you kiddo,