Originally posted September 2013
When I first thought about what it meant to be a parent, I thought about all the wonderful things I would get to teach my children. How to walk, ride a bike, how to read and write were some of the major milestones that crossed my mind. I also had thoughts about how to raise a “good” kid, which at the time I defined as one that didn’t throw tantrums in public, didn’t make a mess while eating and was polite.
Oh, how much I had to learn…..
Of course, we all know from the start we have the big responsibility of helping this little being grow and preparing them so they can survive and thrive in the world. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than knowing how to ride a bike to survive.
I was not prepared for fourth grade. My daughter has had her core group of 3-4 friends for the last couple years and all in all they appear to be very sweet girls (when I watch them interact). But lately the cattiness and drama have stepped up a notch. Most days I hear a recount of she said, I said, she said. Feelings get hurt, “lies” are told, and at least one girl get ignored. I suppose this is “normal” girl drama, I just didn’t realize it started at 8-9 years old. I did my best trying to provide advice on how to handle these situations, even though I really wanted to scream “Friends don’t make you feel bad - stop playing with them and find new friends!”
Then one day as we were talking, almost by accident, I invented “The Drama Scale”.
One day as we were driving home she wasn’t being very talkative, so I asked “How much drama was there today?” She wasn’t sure what I meant, but I had her attention. I said, “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being little drama, 10 being a lot of drama, how much drama did you and your friends have today?” She replied “Oh, well I think it would be about a 5.” From there it gave us a starting point to talk about what had happened and how maybe to handle the situation differently when it came up again.
The next day when she got in the car, she was excited to tell me what the day’s score was on the Drama Scale (4, by the way). Little did I know when I first mentioned it that this idea would be something she could so easily relate to. It’s become a daily check-in for us and a really good starting point for some important conversations. What caused the drama that day? How did it make you feel when she said that? How do you think it made her feel? What did you all do to “become friends again” before the end of the day? By getting her to retell the story, if nothing else, it gets her to think about it again and see if there is anything she can do differently next time.
After a few weeks, something totally unexpected happened. “Guess what the drama scale was today? 2!” she said proudly. I saw this as my chance. I said “Didn’t you all have so much more fun together without all the drama? Wouldn’t it be nice to have more days like this?” We had a great conversation about how much more fun the day was and what they could do to have more low drama days.
Is it working? Is it sinking in that the cattiness and meanness is unnecessary? I will never know for sure. But I do know that for now, the Drama Scale is helping us start the conversation. Growing up is going to be hard, for both of us. All I can hope is that some of these conversations stay in the corners of her brain and help her when she needs them the most.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.