Anna is a gentle, submissive child. This makes me partly happy and partly sad. I’ve written about this before, more than two years ago and she’s mostly the same.
What I am trying to accept and I think I’m getting there is that THIS is what she is – this is her nature and while as her mother I can try to guide her, I cannot change her basic nature and should not have any desire to do so.
One example: Anna and her best friend in the apartment are playing in the garden. Another little girl is also there and she gives Anna a pretty leaf. Anna’s friend wants it and either takes it from Anna or convinces her to hand it over (I missed this part). Anna comes to me and sadly tells me that ‘A’ has her leaf. I tell her that she should ask A to give it back. So she goes to A and asks her for the leaf, A gives it to her and walks off in a huff. Anna runs after her. Soon after I see that A has the leaf and Anna has a flower. She comes and tells me, “this flower is pretty too, Mumma” and goes off to play. A’s mother who is sitting with me says that Anna is too submissive.
Anna’s other good friend is a girl D in her class in school. At the last PTM, her teacher told me that D bosses Anna and we should encourage Anna to play with other kids in the class. She told me that many other kids also want to play with Anna, but Anna’s favourite is D. There have been many, many instances of Anna telling me that D and I were playing in school and I wanted to do some xyz but D didn’t let me/D got angry. I’ve told her so many times, D is not your boss, not you teacher, not you Mumma, not your Aunty; you don’t need to listen to her; if she doesn’t let you do what you want to, don’t play with her; if she doesn’t take turns, don’t play with her; tell her that we need to take turns/share etc. etc. She nods her head but again the same story is repeated. Tomorrow they have a drawing competition in school and have to draw something related to India. We did a few drawings at home and came up with a ‘girl holding an Indian flag’. Since yesterday, she’s telling me that D is not allowing me to draw girl with flag, I will draw lotus/mango instead. R and I have both talked to her so many times, told her that she should draw what SHE wants to, she should tell D to not interfere and again she nods her head but I really don’t know what actually happens in school.
I am so conflicted about this whole matter. I don’t think it is as simple as – the other girls are dominating my daughter because they are like that. I think Anna’s nature is equally at ‘fault’ here. Just keeping her away from ‘A’ or ‘D’ is not the solution. I’m pretty sure the next friends she makes will be the same. She needs to toughen up. She needs to learn to stand up for herself. She has no problem doing that at home, any perceived or real injury is met with loud complaints and accusations against the ‘culprit’. But out and about, it’s a different story.
We try, we keep telling her to be strong; that she does not need to listen to her friends; if they don’t take turns she should tell them and not play with then if they don’t listen; if someone troubles her, she should loudly protest; she should do what she wants to do; she should be friends with all the children in her class and not stick to just one girl. But I don’t know if it’s working.
I don’t want it to seem that it’s all bad. I feel so happy that my girl is not the one troubling some other child. I’m proud of the fact that she has manners, doesn’t push and shove, doesn’t grab, isn’t loud in public places. I just don’t want her to be troubled by others. She NEEDS to be strong or else it’s difficult to survive in today’s world. I don’t want her to be a follower. She may not be a leader and that is okay, but she should at least think for herself. I can see the brightness in her, the intelligence, the sincerity and I don’t want it to get lost. We all want our girls to be fiery and spunky and bold and those are qualities I would love to see in Anna. And I think that is the problem, in our expectations. Nobody cares about nice or sweet any longer. Those are old fashioned traits, but those are the traits I see in my girl and it makes me so glad. But at the same time, submissiveness is not something I want to see in her and we need to keep working on that.
I also need to manage my expectations. She may never be the fiery, bold, vivacious type and that is perfectly fine. As long as she is strong, it doesn’t matter if that strength is loud or quiet.