That Other Girl

I've been meaning to write this post for almost a year now, since we went with Chris's yearbook students to a 2-day workshop at the beach. The theme returned to me after observing my daughter at a Girl Scout event this weekend.

I noticed her right away: she was the one sitting by herself on the bus with her headphones on, the one who didn't offer an opinion as to which movie to put on the DVD player. When we got to the hotel and unloaded, she gathered her things and stood off to the side of the lobby, clutching her pillow and pretending not to listen to the chatter around her. She looked apprehensive when room keys were handed out; she didn't look surprised when the other girls crammed on the elevator together and told her their was no room for her. At mealtimes, she sat on a bench in the hallway, apparently very intent on her cellphone. The only conversational gambit thrown her way was when another girl said: "What do you have, anyway, a 4.0?" She immediately said, "No way!" but then added, "It's just a 3.9," to a collective groan. In the pool, another girl introduced herself and a friend to a group of boys, and this girl swam up and said, "Hey, you forgot to introduce me!" and was met with a withering look. She swam away.

I was that girl. I was the "smart" one, but also the "shy" one. I was the one who tried desperately to pretend that it didn't matter to me when no one paid attention to me. School, summer camp, college parties -- heck, PTO meetings and office luncheons -- I have never been one to put myself forward, to make a friend easily, to become one of the group.

I saw it with Mallory this weekend. She's so social, my daughter, in that she desperately craves friends and always wants to be with other girls. But she doesn't have the knack of inserting herself easily into a group of other kids. She hesitates, she holds back. She waits to be invited in, she thinks she has to be asked. And I'm afraid that's going to mean that she's going to be left by herself, lots of the time.

I was lucky; despite everything, I had a group of close friends in high school and, eventually, in college. I have one or two close adult friends now (and who has time for more)? I'm still probably a bit socially awkward but I'm old enough not to care so much. But I'm going to hate watching Mallory go through this. I don't think that making friends is a skill that can be taught; and I think it may matter to her even more than it mattered to me. I hope the world is kind to her. I hope she can find those one or two good friends to help her through as well.


aimee said...

I think we all have those fears about our kids. I really feel for my nieces though--girls can be so mean. I hope Mallory finds a great group of friends that will be with her throughout those mean girl years.

H Noble said...

I felt that way too, but had a few really good friends, your sister being one of them. The rest doesn't matter, but I hope Mallory always feels confident in herself and what's truly important.