|Not my kid. Photo from WiseGEEK.|
We attended an event recently with friends and their children. We arrived and my daughter saw someone she knew. A few years old, this other child was already playing with other friends who were there. But my daughter was excited, so I said, "Go say hi."
My daughter, full of her bubbly self, ran up with a big smile and said, "Hi!" to her friend.
But the other child just looked at her, then turned away.
And my daughter's face fell.
And my heart sank.
I have naively thought this other child would welcome my daughter with open arms. I don't know why. The other child is older, was with other friends and was already having a good time. I should have known, should have warned my daughter, should have shielded her from that rejection.
I took my daughter's hand and said, "Maybe later" knowing full well later would not come.
My daughter spent the rest of the time hanging with mom and dad and her baby brother, colouring, goofing around a little, watching some videos on my phone and basically being really well behaved. I told her how good she was as I buckled her into her carseat.
But my heart still aches when I think back to that.
As I am writing this, I teared up a little and my husband pointed out it's probably not her first taste of rejection - there is an older girl at daycare who comes after school who has no doubt rejected our daughter before (sometimes she wants to play with the younger kids, other times, understandably, she does not).
But I still feel so guilty because it was me, mom, sending her in to talk to another child who I should have realized was not going to be interested in playing with my daughter. I'm the reason she felt rejected.
This all said, I won't stop telling my daughter to go say hi when she sees someone she knows. It won't always end in rejection - sometimes it will end with my daughter having a great time. She does need to learn about rejection, but it will break my heart every time some other child tells my daughter they don't want to play with her (my son too, for that matter, when he gets old enough).
And when it does end in rejection, I'll be there to give her the biggest hug and hopefully teach her it's OK and she's still an awesome kid.