Bigger kids bigger problems, awwww crap here we go

You know when you’re sitting in the roller coaster and it pulls away from the station and you get this feel like awww crap, here we go? Yup, that feeling. I mean I’ve heard older parents say it a million times, “Bigger kids bigger problems,” but you don’t really know WTF they’re talking about until you’re there yourself.

Wahhh, I miss the days of my baby waking me up at 3am because his paci dropped out of his mouth. Pop! Back in his mouth!! Problem solved. I mean sure there were some challenges, like when the tooth fairy forgot to come because she drank a little too much vino before bed.

ME: Uhhhhh, yeah, well the fairy castle had this uhhhh, emergency last night, so Fay Fay was all tied up and she said she’d come tonight instead.

ZOEY: How do you know?

ME: Because she told me.

ZOEY: Okay.

I can’t believe I thought THAT was a problem. Now when I look back I’m like oh mannn, was that easy. Because I can feel the problems getting harder now. Much harder. Like here’s what I dealt with this week.

ZOEY: This is the worst day ever!!! (tears welling up)

ME: Honey, it’s just a little spilled milk. Is something else going on? Was everything okay at school?

ZOEY: Uggh, no. Greta and Libby are fighting again and I don’t know which side to be on.

ME: Hmmm. I don’t always know the answer, but I do this time.

ZOEY: Whose side?

ME: Neither. You’re friends with both of them so you do NOT pick a side.

ZOEY: But there’s a chart, and you have to write your name on it to show whose side you’re on.

ME: A chart?

ZOEY: Yeah, some of the girls started a chart and Greta has more people than Libby so I don’t know.

ME: Wow.

ZOEY: And Libby’s feelings are hurt.

ME: I’ll bet. Zoey, you know what those girls are doing who made that stupid chart? They just want attention so they’re stirring up drama. Don’t be a part of that.

ZOEY: I’m not going to sign it.

ME: Good for you.

ZOEY: But what if Greta and Libby are still fighting tomorrow?

ME: Then you have two choices. You can either put a smile on your face and help them smile too. Or if they’re making you feel bad–

ZOEY: They’re not doing ANYTHING to me!

ME: I know they’re not, but if the way they’re acting to each other is making you feel bad, you might have to go find some other girls to play with.

ZOEY: But they’re my friends.

ME: Totally, but your friends should make you feel good, not bad. Right? So if you can smile through it, awesome. But if you can’t and it’s hurting you, you need to look out for yourself.

ZOEY: (thinks about it) I’m going to find some other people to play with at recess tomorrow.

ME: Great. And when your friends stop fighting, then you can hang out with them again.

Was this the right answer? I wasn’t sure. I mean I want her to be loyal to her friends and stick with them through tough times, but not if it’s hurting her. Because this time it’s a fight, but who knows what it’ll be down the road. Smoking, cutting, drugs, other things I don’t even know about?? Who knows? And I want her to know that sometimes you do have to walk away, just to protect yourself.

(the next day after school)

ZOEY: Mom, Mom, Mom!!! Guess what?!!!

ME: What?!

ZOEY: I have a new best friend!! Her name is Akari. She just moved here!!

ME: That’s awesome! So are the other girls still fighting?

ZOEY: (shrugs) I don’t know.

So did I do the right thing? (shrugs) I don’t know. But I do know this. She came home with a giant smile on her face, so I must be doing something right. I think? Maybe? Hopefully? I guess we’ll see.

Have your kids dealt with drama at school? Feel free to put it in the comments down below because we’re all in this together.

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There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Edie at 10:42 am

    You totally handled it just right. Im a mother of 3 girls who are adults now. Similar things happened to them when they were little and my advice was the same as yours. Great job Mom!

  2. Tara at 11:00 am

    Agreed. You did good. Sometimes my girls (now 20 and 23) and I would talk about different things they could say to those friends who were fighting, to help explain why they weren’t going to pick sides. It gave them a little bit of confidence to talk it out ahead of time. Yes, loyalty to friends is very important, but as you said, the problems and fights change as they get older, and you have to teach them to look out for their own health and well-being.

    Zoe seems like a very sweet girl, who doesn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s distress, so prepare for this to come up rather frequently over the next few years. The ones who care the most, get caught in the middle the most often!

    Kudos on the mom-ing! You’re killin’ it.

  3. Mara at 11:08 am

    Karen, Karen, Karen – Just go with you gut…. it’s NEVER failed you!!! You. ARE. AWESOME!!!! Your children reflect ALL the good stuff they get from you and the Mr…… they are fine and making AMAZING choices….. you did good!!! *HUGE coffee cup cheers to you!!! My 28 year old daughter who is a mother just read your books (that I got her) – She’s making different choices today. You may not be PERFECT, but you’re PERFECTLY you and you parent those beautiful douchnuggets exactly perfectly Karen <3

  4. Jaimie at 11:26 am

    I have always told my daughter her REAL friends will never make her do things that make her uncomfortable and if they try to force her, they are not her friends. I use the friends in my life that have stayed in my life for many years that she calls Aunts and Uncles. They let me be me and have stuck by my side through the good, bad and ugly and we still pick up where we left off after not seeing each other for months. She’s 13 and she has great friends and she has one friend that’s been around since Kindergarten that tends to make her uncomfortable and she is slowly drifting away from her. Another elementary school friend turned into a “mean girl” and they don’t hang out anymore. Zoey is unique and seems to have self confidence, so as long as she follows her heart and inner voice, no matter what others say or do, she’ll be ok. You did good Mom👍

  5. Gabrielle M. at 11:52 am

    I think you handled it beautifully. Also, how great is it that she made a new friend and made another little girl feel welcomed!

  6. PirateJenny at 12:18 pm

    I just want to say thanks, for putting this out there and for not being afraid to admit that you don’t always know the perfect answer. You’re right, now that the kids are older, the problems are getting more complex! Parenting is a b***h, man! My kids are 6 and 9, and I dread next year (4th grade) because I’ve heard that is when the major friend drama starts, particularly for girls. I thought your answer to Zoe was great. It’s very hard, even as an adult, to watch two friends disagree and feel pressured to choose sides. She will no doubt encounter this same situation again.

  7. Kimberly at 12:28 pm

    I think you handled it very well but skipped an important thing. You need to call or email the teacher and make sure the school knows about the chart and that the mean girls are ganging up on Libby. The girls that made the chart need a pretty strong punishment for trying to isolate someone. The girls that signed it for either of the sides, need a firm talking to about their behavior and standing up for what is right.

  8. Carri Kentch at 4:01 pm

    I have a 13 and 10 yr old girls. Drama is there thing it never seems to stop. One day they are fighting the next they are friends again. My son 8 is the easiest no drama

  9. Jamie at 5:30 pm

    Nailed it! Good work Mama! She stayed loyal to her friends by not picking a side but was able to remove herself from the drama, which will be such an important skill to have her whole life! And she made a new friend to boot!

  10. Lauren Kase at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for killing it on a moral basis. And consistently using correct grammar (not that I would dislike if not) but still-awesome to have a solid voice for kids and ethical choices. It is “the parents” job after all and not a lot of resources to address the most fundamental questions of being.

  11. Liv at 6:04 pm

    As a 22 year old who is right in the thick of learning the ins and outs of friendship, I’ll tell you that you did the right thing! I’m a fiercely loyal and empathetic friend. That has gotten me far in life, but in high school it took me entirely too long to learn that it’s okay to step away if a friendship is hurting you. I feel that Zoey is very loyal and empathetic too and more emotionally mature than her peers. In the coming years, she might have to grieve and struggle with the fact that others, especially those that she is so invested in and loyal to, aren’t emotionally mature enough to return the favor. That was very hard for me to accept and it left me feeling very betrayed. I wish I could have known earlier that taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t a loyal or caring friend and that not all friendships will provide everything you need… Some friends are good for laughs. Some friends are good for bringing you out of your shell. Some friends are good listeners. Others good talkers. And only some friends can return true emotional support. I had to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each of my relationships and accept them for what they are and nothing more. Sometimes being a mature kid is hard and makes you vulnerable. But it will teach her a level of emotional deepness, self awareness, and independence that will take her very far in life!

    • Maya at 10:06 am

      Liv, Well said. I am going to have my 11 year old read your response so that he knows he isn’t alone. He is currently struggling with some of his friend groups and you put it perfectly that not all friends are for everything.

  12. Joanna at 6:19 pm

    I think you gave the best advice! It’s hard to explain to your child that someone may not really be a friend. Such a hard concept to grasp, even as an adult. Zoey sounds like such an amazing, confident girl. Your support of her finding new friends is just what she needed.

  13. Kay at 3:22 pm

    I’m a 5th grade teacher so I see the girl drama ALL-DAY-LONG. When I taught middle school I always said my girls were worse than the boys. They were mean, catty, and so emotional you could ride their highs and lows like a roller coaster.
    The best thing I’ve found for my girls is to isolate the leader and speak to her. Not about her meanness or the drama, but about life. About how special and great she is, and how people look up to her as a role model. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t…but when it helps, you REALLY see a change.

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