Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let's Be Friends

Nine year olds are mean. This is not something I just realized, but something that I am reminded of again now that we finally moved into our own house in Michigan.

We got here about two months ago and for the first month were staying at our business partner's house. He had 14 acres of property so there weren't exactly kids right next door to play with. The kids amused themselves catching frogs in the pond and things were peaceful. With the kids anyway. My husband and our business partner bickered like a married couple. They are good friends, but being that close was straining the friendship. It didn't help that our business partner had a new girlfriend that was moving in around the same time and felt like we were infringing on her turf. We had to find our own place and get out. We'd been looking and looking at houses and a lot of what we looked at was smaller than we were used to. In Arizona nothing is older than 10 years. In Michigan there are 200 year old houses everywhere. I love old houses and the charm and character they possess, but 200 years ago people didn't have ginormous sectional couches or mansion sized California King bedroom sets. Apparently they didn't have enough clothes to warrant a closet in every bedroom either. If you can call an 8x8 space a bedroom. Most of what we looked at would require us to buy all new furniture. So when we found a place to rent that was newer construction, enough square feet for us, and in a neighborhood with excellent schools, we jumped on it. Even though the previous tenants had changed the locks so the property manager couldn't let us in to see the inside. Yup, that's right, we signed a one year lease on a house we hadn't even seen the inside of. Crazy, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The gamble paid off though, because the house is really nice. All our furniture fits. There are a few quirky things I don't like, but they are minor, I can live with them. The timing was perfect. The day we signed our lease was the last day of AYSO soccer sign ups for the area. We were able to get Tiffany signed up for soccer, which made her very happy. Even though the registration deadline had passed for summer school, since it hadn't started yet, and they still had space in the class, I was able to get Aimee signed up to take the first half of the World History class they take here in 9th grade, but Arizona doesn't take until 10th. So she will only have to use one of her electives to make up the other half this year.

Once we started moving in we learned that there were a ton of kids in the neighborhood our kids ages. On one side of us, a girl Aimee's age with a couple of younger brothers Kimberly and Tiff's ages. On the other side, they have a boy Aimee's age, and a girl Tiffany's age. The next house down from them another girl Aimee's age, one a year older than Kimberly, and a boy or two around Tiff's age. There are a ton more, but I'm not sure exactly where they originate in the neighborhood.

The thing is, the nine year old next door, and her other friends from the neighborhood have all been friends since infancy. They've lived in this neighborhood their entire lives and their moms were all pregnant at the same time. That would be a hard group to break into at any age, but there's something about 9 year olds. They aren't "little" kids any more. This year in 4th grade, school will get harder for them as their teachers try to prepare them for middle school. This is the age that cliques start to form and you aren't automatically friends just because you are the same age. Nine year olds are starting to develop a sense of themselves as individuals, and their self esteem is largely based on how much "cooler" they think they are than their peers. They aren't afraid to cut down their friends to make themselves feel superior.

It breaks my heart when Tiff comes home crying because they were mean to her. They let her play and then they ditch her. Or she asks if she can join and they refuse her. I can't go complain to the other parents, because Tiff isn't going to gain any respect with these kids by having a mom that tattles on them. All I can do is try to teach Tiffany that she doesn't have to put up with their BS. She doesn't have to play with them, just because they live in the neighborhood. Two nights ago she came in crying. The kids had ditched her and she was heartbroken. My husband came unglued and told her she couldn't play with them any more. Yesterday, the whole incident and her father's edict were forgotten, and she wanted to go play with them again.