By: Kaci Calvaresi
While sitting in the waiting room at our pediatrician’s office I witnessed the following scene play out between four little girls that appeared to be between the ages of four and eight. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Maggie (appears to be about 6 years old) – “Hi, what’s your name? Do you want to play with me and my sister? Her name is Meghan.”
Lara (also appears to be about 6 years old) – “My name is Lara. I don’t know if I want to play with you. Can you do a toe touch?”
Maggie – “I can’t do a toe touch, but I can dance. Do you want to dance with me?”
She then throws her hands in the air, lifts one leg, and spins around in a beautiful pirouette.”
Lara – “I don’t want to dance and I’ll only play with you, not your sister. She’s too little to be my friend.”
Meghan (appears to be about 4 years old) – “Look at me! I’m not too little to be a friend!”
For the next ten minutes I watched as Lara did several gymnastics moves right there in the middle of the waiting room and challenged Maggie to copy her. Each time that Maggie failed to do exactly what Lara had modeled, Lara would criticize her with words like: “You’re just not as good as me.” And “I just don’t think you can do it.”
While the whole scene played out with Lara being nasty and Maggie being bullied and insecure, there was an older girl watching them. I’ll call her Stella. Stella was sitting next to me and I looked over just in time to see her rolling her eyes and losing her patience.
Stella (appears to be about 8 years old) – “Lara, why are you being so mean?”
Lara – “Do I know you?”
Stella – “No, you don’t know me. But you shouldn’t be so mean. Nobody is going to want to play with you.”
“Maggie, I’ll play with you. I think your dancing was beautiful.”
As Stella jumped up and started doing pirouettes with Maggie and Meghan, Lara asked if she could dance with them.
My son and I stepped around four joyful, dancing girls on our way to the back.
That little scene stirred something in me. You see… I’ve been Maggie, the insecure girl who tries really hard to please someone that I want to be friends with. I’ve been Meghan, the left-out girl on the sidelines screaming, “Look at me!”. I’ve also been Lara, the girl who tries to make others prove themselves by some unrealistic measure of comparison. But who I want to be is brave, wise, truth-speaking, community-building Stella.
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