Thursday, February 14, 2008

Best Friends Forever, or What's going on there, anyway?

The Bean-girl has a friend.

I'm not using that term lightly, the way parents often do of their young childrens' classmates or acquaintances. You know how we say it--little Sophie and Ethan are in the same playgroup and sometimes exchange blocks so they're friends. No, I mean that Bean-girl has a real friend, someone she seeks out, someone whose company absolutely makes her day.

Bean-girl's friend is a beautiful little girl at preschool, a charming cherub with big blue eyes, sunlight hair, and an exuberant personality. When I come to the classroom with Baby Legume in tow, little "Lisa" runs up to coo at the baby and tell me that she, too, is going to have a baby soon. (Actually, it's her mother who is going to have the baby, but we'll just let this slide). She is going to have a baby brother that she will call either "Curly" or "Bubbles," and can she please come over to our house to play? (Soon, I tell her. As soon as I and her mother can arrange it).

Bean-girl and Lisa are Best Friends Forever. They are joined at the hip. They love each other.

Lately, for some mysterious reason, Bean-girl has been balking at attending school. This is the same girl who loved her school the very first day she went, who used to run off happily to paint and do crafts. Now many nights she tells us that she doesn't want to go to school the next day. She would rather stay home with Mommy.

But you can do crafts and paint! we say.
She shakes her head.

But Lisa will be there!

I don't know if Lisa will be there, she points out. She has reason for this concern--Bean-girl goes to school on Monday and Wednesday, but Lisa goes on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

If it is a Monday and Lisa will be there, all is fine. You can play in the Jungle Room with Lisa! I say, and all sullen resistance evaporates from my daugher's face. Yippee! her entire expression shouts, and she hastens to pull on her clothes for the day.

If Lisa is there, she told me at the kitchen table one day, I don't need to be with Mommy.

(Oh, sweetness with just the slightest pang.)

When we ask Bean-girl about her friends at school, she insists that Lisa is her only friend. As for the other kids that I have seen her playing with? Sometimes they are nice and sometimes they are mean, she says. Only Lisa is her friend.

Interestingly, Lisa has the same idea. A few weeks ago Lisa and the Bean-girl got together for a playdate at Lisa's house. Lisa's mother told me that Lisa, too, insists that all the kids at school are "mean." Except, of course, for my daughter.

What is going on here? As far as I have been able to tell, there is no Lord-of-the-Flies situation in the classroom. When I drop by, the children all seem well-behaved (usually) and perfectly pleasant. I have seen Bean-girl (and Lisa, too, incidentally) interacting and playing with these other children. But they both insist that the other kids are often mean and not their friends.

What about Ally? I ask. And Maddy and Isabelle? Isn't Michael your friend?

Bean-girl shakes her head. And she does not like Michael. A sweet red-haired boy who is often standing next to her at the craft table, who showed her the hermit crabs in the crab tank during the first week of preschool, and who often runs up to me to chatter about his day.

Lisa doesn't like ANY of the boys. Come to think of it, Bean-girl does not appear to like any of the boys, either. Geez, I didn't know that cooties appeared so soon.

The social scene at preschool is obviously complex beyond my understanding. And while I do worry about the social scene ahead, and wonder what is going on (although I really think it's not much of anything) ... it is also so sweet to see my daughter with her first real friend.


Lisa and Bean-girl both have a shared love for the Disney cartoon series "Little Einsteins." On Monday (completely by coincidence, I swear) they both showed up wearing Little Einstein shirts. Bean-girl's teacher told me that she and the girls had decided that Lisa was "Annie"--the blonde, blue-eyed little girl in the series. And Bean-girl was "June"--the long-lashed Asian ballerina.

My little long-lashed Chinese-American girl and her blond friend. Perfect.

That's Bean-girl/June on the left, and Lisa/Annie on the right.
Oh, and any moms out there with older kids and insight into the preschool social scene?


EcoGeoFemme said...

Wow, that's interesting. Have you talked to her teacher about the social scene in the class? You have described Bean-girl as pretty adept at "manipulating" adults (for lack of better word), so it seems possible that she does just fine with the other kids and only tells you otherwise. But worth invetigating, no?

It is very sweet that she has a BFF already. I wonder if they will remain friends for a long time. Is it likely that they will go to the same elementary school?

BTW, I *love* titles with "or". :)

The bean-mom said...

I'm glad you put the term "manipulating" in quotes =)

I've talked a little bit about this to Bean-girl's teachers. I didn't want to accuse any kids, but I did mention that Bean-girl says one girl is particular is "sometimes nice and sometimes mean." They said that the girl in question isn't really "mean" (as we adults would define it) but she *is* very bossy. At this age, of course, all the kids are bossy, my daughter included!

I think Bean-girl and Lisa really do perceive the other children as "more mean", although we adults would not necessarily use the same words. I think they have simply really bonded with one another and prefer each other's company. But, of course, I want my daughter to make other friends and play with other kids, too. And I don't want she and her friend to form a clique of two, and exclude other children.

Preschool is a very interesting age!

EcoGeoFemme said...

Maybe Bean-girl is actually more socially aware than most kids her age, and that also makes her more sensative to social interactions. Maybe she's socially precocious rather than manipulative (which I can't imagine really describes any small child, let alone your bean-girl).

Wayfarer Scientista said...

well, if it helps, I'm still friends with my BFF from pre-school! said...

This will not have effect in reality, that is what I believe.