Thursday, January 29, 2009

Little Girls and their Diaries

When I was little, I always planned to keep a journal.  I'd start full force writing what happened that day and my feelings.  I rarely kept it for very long.  Which may in fact tell you something about the future of this blog (and my success with food journals and Weight Watchers). Actually that is my memory, I'm shocked to look back and see how much I did write.  It's fun to try and remember who NC or MT was and JM or TM.   Oh the drama!

I do not like making generalizations, but there are few who will disagree that little girls have more drama than little boys.  I notice the boys just play.  Someone (or a few people) come over and off they go to jump on the trampoline or shoot each other in the woods (another story for another day).  There is seldom, especially since third grade or so, a "we don't know what to do." 

With the girls however, often the playdate/play time is over before they have even finished negotiating "the game."  They cannot just go jump on the trampoline, they have to pretend to be Massey, Cynthia, Lizzie, Ashley, or Jenny.  There is extensive negotiation about who gets to be Caroline this week or if that name is allowed.  Will they be rich or will they be poor?  They get into the car, "Mommy, pretend that you are our limo driver and we are rich girls."  or "Mommy pretend the Skyler and I are sisters.  Don't tell anyone that we aren't, OK?"  

I go into Mollie's room and it's like walking into an alternate universe sometimes.  There are sheets hanging from bed posts and computers and cell phones litter every flat surface.  There are American Girl Dolls lined up classroom style or sleeping as if at a slumber party.  They have incredible imaginations!  Invariably there is extensive discussion over who is the baby and who will be the teenager.  No one ever argues over who will be the mom, hmmmmm.  Now in their mind the ultimate in maturity, ie being a teenager, is keeping a diary.  Since before she could even properly form words, Mollie has had some notebook or other that she was keeping as a journal (as her teenage alter ego).  Here is the drama part--they must keep their journal secret--even from their friends.  But a secret isn't fun unless someone knows about it, so they show their friends their journal and tell them it's secret and they can't see it.  This wasn't really that big of a deal when their journal had a series of scribbles in it, but now there are actual thoughts and feelings in some of them.  

Now as a mother, I'm torn.  It's easy to say don't tease your friends with your secret diary.  But if they do tease, should they then have to share?  And what happens when the friend reads it without permission?  I mean, at their age (9-10) they are still figuring a lot of stuff out, especially negotiating friendships and jealousy.  I'd like for them to understand that someone can be your friend and someone else's too.  Just because Susie invited Jessica and Mary over and not you doesn't mean you are no longer friends.  (Of course there are adults who still don't get this, but that may or may not be another post--there's that whole what if someone recognizes themselves.)

In the past I've made them share.  Good friends don't tease each other with secrets.  That's usually in the moment and an easy-enough decision.  However the other night it played itself out in a new and different way.  We were invited for happy hour to a friend's house.  Two girls arrived and their hostess was at a neighbors.  They went to her room to play and await her return.  Unbeknownst to any of the grown ups, they were entertaining themselves by reading the hostess' journal.  I was blissfully in the dark about all of this until Mollie walked into the room and burst into tears and apologized profusely.  We learned a third lesson, it's no fun to read someone's secret journal and keep that a secret from them.  Throughout the evening (Happy Hour had progressed to dinner at our house--a not uncommon occurrence) the two readers had been asking the journalist questions about what she had written.  She became upset and told her mom.  The mom of the journalist confronted the girls and thus Mollie broke down into tears because she had hurt her friend's feelings.   

So two wrongs don't make a right after all.   Don't taunt your friends with your secret journal.  Don't read your friend's secret journal even if she's taunted you with it.  I'm still not sure though how to prevent future drama along these lines......

1 comment:

Africanellen said...

Ok, I think I might recognize one of those jealous adults you mentioned. I have to say I'm not looking forward to this period in Sunny's life. I just hope I can see her through it! Seems like you're doing a great job.
Love ya!