We sat on the couch, side by side, like we often do, her hand in my hair for comfort, while she chatted about her time at her nannies, her friends, and going back to school after the March Break.
“Mom, sometimes I let Emma butt in front of me, but I don't mind, that means she's my friend.”
My heart leapt into my throat.
Emma was a name we had heard several times throughout the school year and one that was usually linked to our daughter giving things away in order to hold onto the friendship or “buy” the friendship. We stressed to her the importance of her being friends with kind children and that friendship was free.
Looking down at her I saw the innocence in her face and wanted so badly to shield her from all of the Emma's she would meet in her life.
We discussed ways that she could avoid having Emma butt in front of her and what a good friend brings to the relationship vs a poor friend. We talked about what friendship means to her and if the people she surrounded herself with met her definition.
Discussing this with an almost five-year old isn't that easy but we divided it into a pro's and con's list looking at the good choices her friends made vs the bad and we found that the majority of her friends were kind, giving, and fun to be around.
We also found there were a few that were not so fun to hang around, were often unkind, and always expecting things from her.
Evaluating her relationships and taking a look helped her see that not all friendships are alike and she was in charge of who she lets into her life.
Using problem solving skills and with our assistance, she was able to come up with a plan for the next time a child wanted to butt in front of her or the next time a friend wasn't kind, which gave her the self-esteem to handle Emma.
She could choose to walk away, ignore, talk it through, compromise, tell them to stop, etc. depending on the situation.
Providing her with the tools and the problem solving skills meant she was able to make her own decisions when it came to friends and she felt in control.
And discussing on a regular basis how her friendships were going meant she had an outlet and could check in with us regularly regarding her relationships.
This parenting thing isn't easy and there isn't a handbook to prepare you.
But with the right tools and communication we might make it through this week.