"She says if I don't do what she tells me to do then we can't be BFFs anymore."
I hated -- hated -- those words coming from my daughter's lips.
But I had a feeling they were coming.
My 6-year-old dances through life confident, bright, independent -- and with a big friendly grin on her face.
The main comment I hear about her from adults is, "You will not have to worry about this one caving to peer pressure." The main comment I hear about her from kids is, "Can she please come over to play?"
And yet... those words.
I had hoped she wouldn't have to deal with this BFF Bullsh*t until she was much older.
I had hoped she wouldn't fall for this BFF Bullsh*t, ever.
Like we've all fallen for it at some time.
Her words sparked a conversation we've had before, and we brought her brother into it again, too. We talked about how friends should make us feel: good. I rattled off a list of kids who accept her and her brother for who they are, and like them for it. I made it clear that someone who threatens to stop being your friend if you don't do something they want you to do isn't a friend at all.
I assured them that if you have a friend who starts to make you feel bad, or pressured, or uncomfortable, it's OK not to play with them anymore.
I explained that not being someone's friend anymore doesn't have to be a big deal; it can be a quiet backing away from someone who needs to work on themselves before they get to spend time with you again.
I asked why she would risk getting into trouble just to stay friends with this one girl, when she has so many other friends who treat her much better.
I asked why she would want to be BFFs with this girl, when she has to tease other kids, try dangerous things or be less herself to do so.
My sprightly girl has stood up to boys twice her size, wooed roomfuls of adults and spearheaded elaborate campaigns to try to persuade her dad and me to give in to some whim of hers that we've already said isn't going to happen. She believes in herself and her ideas. She knows her value.
So why does this one girl have this effect on her?
What is it about girlfriends that makes us go against every fiber of our beings just to be accepted?
I wish I had the answer.
Until then, I can only stay strong and follow through on my promise to punish her when she breaks the rules for this girl, and hold her close when she's brave enough to break her own heart by saying "No" to this BFF Bullsh*t and loses this "friend."
Standing here waiting to see which she decides to do first is going to be hard for me. I want to protect her. I want to make the decision for her. But I know I can't.
Growing up was never easy, but I had no idea that watching your own kids go through the process is infinitely less easy in times like this.
Good luck, baby girl. I'll be here for you.