When she got into kindergarten and grade school, she would blow up and become upset at what the other kids thought were things that should just roll off her back. As a result, a lot of kids didn't particularly want to play with my daughter.
And, for the first nine-years of her life, although I loved Grace dearly, I couldn't understand her. I didn't get how she wouldn't let things go and how the littlest of things (in my eyes) would devastate her.
Around fourth grade, I began to realize that this is just the way she was built. She wasn't doing it on purpose. She didn't want to be this upset, and so I started to empathize with her as she started to grow out of this part of her life a bit. But, the damage had been done already, at least socially.
She was already known as "that girl who always cried." So, trying to make strong friendships was still difficult for her, although she was holding things together at school and around her peers. When she went to junior high school this last fall, she met peers who didn't know her past and discovered Grace as the girl she had become, not the girl she had been. And, she started making really wonderful friendships. The funny thing is, once some of the girls she had tried to forge friendships with in grade school saw that these new girls accepted and really appreciated Grace, they came around and started to see her in a new light as well.
I am writing this today because yesterday was Independence Day. We went to a local family-friendly Fourth of July event at a park. There was food, games, activities, contests, music, and of course, fireworks. Grace brought one of her new friends, and met up with another friend she had made this year (who brought along another girl new to Grace).
It was the most wonderful thing to see the four of them hanging out together, making fun of the "old people" (namely me and my wife) dancing to "really old music", taking selfies, laughing and just being tweens. I know that Grace has longed for this kind of social interaction growing up watching her older sister, now seventeen, having these kinds of experiences.
It makes me feel so comfortable knowing that Grace will continue to forge close friendships as she continues to get older. She's still very emotional. Things upset her quickly, but she handles them better than ever. More importantly, she has friends who love her for who she is...just like me.
image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/best-friends-childhood-girls-young-914826/