Katherine plays almost entirely with boys at school. She likes most of her female classmates, and they like her, but she has no patience with their girl drama. I can totally relate to that. I played with boys all through grade school and hung out with boys all through high school for pretty much the same reasons. Katherine came home one day a month or so ago and announced "Chloe says she likes Chance. I mean likes likes him. Ewww! That is just NOT appropriate!" I gave a big sigh of relief, glad that she runs with a different crowd.
Most of the boys Kate hangs out with are my former students. They are sweet, smart kids, a little squirrely, but well-meaning. None of them are destined to be great athletes or voted Most Popular. They talk about legos and computer games and spinning top-like toys called beyblades. They are 3rd grade geeks. And they have accepted my girl as one of their own. When I see them at recess, huddled together giggling, it always makes me smile.
One of the leaders of this self-named Lego Club is a boy named Trent. He's a skinny kid with freckles and prominent ears - adorable in a Howdy Doody sort of way. Katherine talks about Trent more than any of the other boys. He makes her laugh. She's been to his house and they have long conversations about dirt bikes and dogs and what a chore cleaning your room is. He's her buddy and she likes hanging out with him.
I helped with Katherine's classroom Christmas party last week. When I entered the room, Kate's teacher pulled be aside and whispered, "Katherine has an admirer. He gave her quite a nice gift today." Then she gave me a knowing look and pointed to a gift bag on Katherine's desk. I walked over and greeted Kate. I casually asked about the present on her desk. "Oh, that" said Katherine. "Trent gave it to me. It's an owl." And it was. A darling, nerdy owl. A great gift for my darling, nerdy girl.
I am not sure how I feel about this turn of events in the 3rd grade social scene. Part of me is highly amused that this goofy kid is in love with my daughter. It's cute. And funny. Part of me is horrified that a boy is in love with my daughter. My 8 year old! Part of me is relieved, and very grateful, that Katherine has good friends and does not seem to be a social outcast, as I was at her age. 3rd grade is complicated, even for the parents.
I have many concerns about the social life of my girl, but for now, there are no solutions or answers. Will other kids tease her about Trent and his crush? How will her happy, safe place in the Lego Club change when the other boys start to see her as more than one of the guys? How will she handle that? Will there be a place for her in the strict hierarchy of girls? How and when will her classmates hurt her?
For now, I'll keep Katherine supplied with legos, listen to her recess tales, and hope for the best. I will not say a single word about Trent. Or his owl. I am so proud of her for finding her own place, making her own way, even if it's different from the other girls. She is strong, stronger than I realize. And I have to remember that.