"How was school today?" I ask. "Who'd you play with?"
"Abigail," she answers. "But Mommy, Abigail was best friends with Elizabeth today."
What does that even mean? Does it mean my poor baby was left out of that day's best-friend clique? Does it mean she was playing with Abigail only to be informed by Elizabeth that she was Abigail's best friend that day, not my daughter?
I don't know, exactly, because it's really difficult to get the straight dope from a three year old.
My daughter isn't just a victim, however, as I found out while dropping her off at school one day. We had just walked in the door when Abigail ran over. "Yay, you're here! You're my best friend," she announced.
Without missing a beat, my daughter coldly replied, "You're NOT my best friend. Elizabeth is my best friend."
My jaw hit the floor. Whaaaaat? I had never heard this kind of talk coming from my daughter's mouth before. Luckily, Abigail's dad had already left, so I only had to feel mortified in front of the teacher.
I'm sure this kind of behavior is normal in the preschool set these days (at least with girls--my son has never ever talked like this). But according to my daughter's teacher, this particular group of girls is one of the most competitive and best-friend-obsessed she's ever experienced.
Apparently, there are a couple of aggressive Alpha girls in the class (my daughter isn't one of them) who stir things up and stoke the fires. The ring leader is a precocious cutie who always wants to be the "best girl" at everything (and who also happens to have an older sister--which surely isn't a coincidence).
The teacher told me that, when things get too hairy, my daughter is good about removing herself from the fray and going off to read a book by herself--which I was really happy to hear. "But she's listening! She doesn't miss a word of what's going on," the teacher added. Oh, no doubt.
Sure, it's important that my daughter learn to deal with all sorts of social interactions--not just warm & fuzzy ones--but it still worries me. She is a strong, opinionated little girl, but when it comes to her peers, she seems more of a follower. My son has never been fresh or bratty just because his friends were acting that way, but my daughter is a mimic who will do anything to get a laugh.
Hopefully none of this bad behavior will sink into that little brain of hers and take hold. Hopefully next year's class will have a different dynamic (though I'm not holding my breath since many of the same kids will be in her class). Or maybe the kids will do some growing up over the summer, leave this pettiness behind, and begin the new school year with nothing but love and acceptance for all.