Thursday, July 26, 2012

Be friends with boys.

That was my advice to Brynn tonight.

Amid all of the girl drama at swim practice and at school, my best advice is, "Be friends with boys."

I know it falls short. I know it doesn't solve the problem. I know that she looks back and realizes that the friendships she had with boys dissolved when she left preschool. I know she doesn't enjoy boy activities or feel comfortable with boys. Still, it was the best advice I could give her. It's what my mom told me. "In high school and college, my best friends were boys." I remember my mom telling me that. And my life, whether it was because of my mom's suggestion or just natural progression, followed the same path. I didn't have a gaggle of girlfriends. I ended up with a couple of friends who were girls. Boys were just...easier. Friendlier. More relaxed and predictable. Fun.

I also made Brynn memorize what my mom repeated to me when I was Brynn's age.

You'd worry less about what people think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

I made her say it like a mantra. Over and over until I knew she wouldn't forget. I don't know why I bothered -- it never made me feel better, or at least not until I was confident enough not to care what my peers thought of me. But when I think of it now, it's just so true. ...if you realized how seldom they do.

I told Brynn she is precious, she is God's beloved creation. She is exactly what she is supposed to be. Beautiful, smart, funny, athletic, gifted, healthy, kind, loving, generous, thoughtful. She is all of those things. We're all gifted because we were fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in our mothers' wombs by the perfect hands of God, made with unique purpose and potential. But I know it doesn't matter. I know that no matter how many times I tell her what a precious gift she is, she'll believe what she thinks she hears when she hears girls whisper her name in the shower after swim practice or on their way in from the playground at recess.

And they might be saying, "Wow, look how tan Brynn is." Or, "I wish I could dance like Brynn." Or, "It's no fair -- she can eat a tub of ice cream and look like that!" Or, "Look at her legs! If I had legs like hers..." Those are the things I'd think if I were a girl watching Brynn. Those are things I did think about girls who looked like Brynn.

But what Brynn imagines girls saying isn't flattering. It doesn't make her feel good. It makes her feel left out and laughed at and ridiculed. It makes her feel like she doesn't fit in and like she is unwanted and unloved.

And I wish I could take it from her. I wish I could take it all. I wish I could let her live in my brain for a day and see that she can be free. It kills me to know that she has to walk through this part of life, this uphill, frustrating part of life where every day feels like a battle. Where every day you feel beaten down or left out or judged. Where you never know who your friends are or where you fit in.

I know how she feels because I felt it. I've been there. I've been the girl who felt left out and unwanted. Ridiculed. I remember the day -- the day -- I decided I wasn't going to be that girl anymore. I remember making a decision to walk a different path, to be confident and outgoing. To be the girl I felt trying to escape from within me. I hope and pray that that day will come soon for Brynn.

Until then, I've told her to make friends with boys. Because girls? You can't solve problems with girls.


Bri!!! said...

I absolutely adored this post. I couldn't agree more!

Hillary said...

Thanks, Bri!

Liz said...

Ugh...I hated reading this. Mostly because I remember what it was like so clearly and I hate that she is going through this already. And honestly, for me it never got better until I was more confident in who I was. Which probably wasn't until college. Unfortunately I have no advice, other than telling her in the long run it just doesn't matter. She is amazing and as long as she keeps hearing it, hopefully that message will settle in soon.

Anonymous said...

Hil....send her over to talk with ALLY. BEEN THERE DONE THAT. We had the talk early on in kindergarten when one girl started saying "you're not my friend"...WHAT???? We discussed this at length and Ally understood early on, GIRLS ARE MEAN AND THEY CAN SUCK.
YEs, we are lucky that she has an older brother who is her best friend,but she figured out if she at least hung with the boys at recess, tried soccer with them etc...that they were never mean to her. She has mantained boy friendships to this day, 7th grade, and although girls have come and gone, she seems to be able to handle it better. SIGH, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Seriously, though would love for her to be able to talk with ALly if she ever wants. Lyn

Fulton said...

wow, girls are different. when i was her age all i was concerned about was not getting beaten up and what the cafeteria was having for lunch.

Hillary said...

You guys are awesome. Thanks for your comments and thoughtfulness. Yes, Lyn, we might have to take you up on that!

I know she'll be fine. I came out okay..we all do. I just wish the path were smoother.