The girl scowls at her friend and her voice is nearly a hiss as she whispers to avoid being overheard by the teacher … “If you sit with her, I won’t be your friend anymore!”
Her friend, a sweet-faced little girl with long brown hair, replies with a whimper. “But, but …”
I thought my five-year-old daughter would be able to avoid the petty girl games until at least junior high, but I witness the manipulative power plays in her kindergarten classroom every Friday morning that I volunteer. You can tell who has future queen bee drama queen potential just by spending an hour with a group of five and six-year-olds. Even though her teacher keeps me very busy with cutting or collating and stapling from a corner table, I can’t help but overhear the conversational undertow that the little girls get sucked into. The boys are more physical. They fidget and twiddle and pace and tap and pick and scratch. The girls seem to blow off steam through manipulation and mind games. Of course they have their physical habits, too: tossing of hair, batting of eyelashes, rolling of eyes, crossing of arms, and pouting. Oh the pouting! Do girls pout in the womb?
Children at my daughter’s elementary school who are eating with a guest (usually a parent) are allowed to invite one friend up on the stage in the cafeteria to eat with them. The boys seem to go about this all very diplomatically and with zero drama. They’re much more into their sandwiches and chocolate milk than political power plays destined to shape future friendships. For the queen bee girl in my daughter’s class it is nothing short of full drama and time to flaunt her power of manipulation over her friends. Thankfully, my little girl does not seem to be too deeply entrenched in the circle of girls, three in particular, that one second declare their undying devotion and friendship and the next second practically hiss their disdain, vowing to withdraw their friendship for an eternity. It’s exhausting, really.
On a recent Friday, my clever girl avoided the emotional crosshairs that invite such arguments by inviting a boy to eat lunch with us.
So do boys engage in this back and forth “I won’t be your friend any more?” Why are girls more prone to this type behavior? As parents, do we unwittingly encourage this kind of deal or no deal negotiating between girls?