Why are children so fickle and mean? Here's my situation:
My five year old son is a sensitive soul. He gets easily upset, he doesn't have terrific social skills, it takes him a while to join in, yet once he's comfortable, he can turn quite bossy and aggressive. So not terrifically helpful in the making friends department. Yet underneath it all he can be a sweet little boy who just wants to fit in.
When he started school, his best friend was the little boy across the road. They'd only just gotten to know each other but they stuck to each other as they faced the newness of school together. They have very similar temperaments. Both sensitive, both clingy.
Over the past few months the arguments between them seem to have escalated. There've been plenty of 'Well I'm not your friend anymore' type moments, but they've been swiftly replaced with statements like 'I'm going to marry J when I'm older.' It's a love hate thing.
However, enter the ominous prescence of DINO KING TRADING CARDS. Last year, Go Gos were all the rage. The must have craze, without which my son might surely die. So we stocked up on sodding Go Gos. That was like sooo last year dude. Now Dino King Trading Cards are the MUST HAVE item for every cool kid in the school.
So friend across the road (J) and a boy in year 1 (I) both had some cards. My son didn't. Both he and I were blissfully unaware of the uber-coolness dino cards inferred on their bearers. However, within a day of these boys having the cards, the nagging started. I ignored it as I was still admiring my array of Go Gos yet to be doled out for good behaviour. But as the nagging escalated I began to see why.
Every morning in the playground I&J (which incidentally is a name of a frozen fish company in South Africa, but that's probably not relevant) would huddle together looking at each other's cards, physically blocking my son out. It was heartbreaking to see. What was more heartbreaking was having my son come home every day and cry that he had no friends because he didn't have any trading cards.
My heart strings were well and truly plucked so I ordered a batch off the internet and got a pack for immediate gratification while we waited for the internet order to arrive. The next day my son got to school, proudly carrying his cards and he rushed up to his friends so that he could at last fit in. But he still wasn't cool. Because they both had DINO CARD HOLDERS! Let me explain. These things are large, chunky pieces of plastic crap that cost £18. All they do is make a couple of sounds and can hold one card. Whoopdedoo.
But without a Dino Card Holder, my son might as well have dyed his hair ginger, worn thick specs and covered his face with spots - such was his uncoolness. After much arguing and lamenting and ranting and raging we agreed that he could use his birthday money to buy a dino card holder, even though I strongly advised against it. This ended in an almighty meltdown when he realised that he was going to actually have to part with his own money, but he got over it.
So equipped with cards (including the pack off the internet by this stage) and the dino card holder, he headed off to school, at long last worthy enough to be spoken to by his friends. The joy lasted for a few days.
But for the last week, he has come home and cried saying that both I&J refused to trade cards with him. They tell him his cards are rubbish and not 'strong enough' (which I assume means something in dino-ease but I'm not sure what) and just won't let him into the inner circle of two. I can see it at the school gate in the morning, where J speaks to my son until I arrives, and then he's frozen out.
Now part of me makes me want to ram their little sodding heads together and say: STOP BEING SO MEAN! But part of me also wonders whether my son has done something to prompt this behaviour from them. As I explained at the beginning, he can get bossy and aggressive, so maybe he's been that way with the cards. Who knows. I'm not in the school. I can't see what goes on.
I'd laugh it all off but it is so heartbreaking to hear my son saying: "I&J are having a sleepover this weekend. I is J's new best friend. I don't really have any friends anymore."
I'd like to blame it all on the dino cards, but I fear if it wasn't that, it would be something else. The only advice I can give my son is to treat people the way you want to be treated and hopefully they'll be nice back to you. But somehow I don't think five year olds operate that way.