My 9-year-old daughter was having problems at school with a boy called Marco. Marco is a 12-year-old in her class. I was a bit unsure about the way they mix the ages in classes when I first arrived here but am now convinced it’s a great idea. Poppy’s own age group of girls can get quite clicky and bitchy at times and she now finds solace in the older friends she has made in class which is lovely.
But she didn’t like Marco. She said he was very mean. She mentioned Marco's 'nastiness' again over the weekend and when I questioned her further she admitted he was mean to most people but ‘especially’ mean to her. And on further questioning the meanest thing she could remember him saying is that she is ‘rubbish at gymnastics’ (I had to stifle a giggle here because my daughter has become opposed to sport and activity in general, much to my despair) I said what did you say to that? She said she blew a raspberry at him. I said ‘Do you think you could have responded in a better way?’ She said ‘no’.
So I had a little think and tried a different tactic. I talked about Marco and the fact that he had been kept back from progressing to secondary school last year. They seem to do this quite a lot in Switzerland - holding a child back a year if they are not ready to progress. But of course it can be tough on the child involved, especially when they are left behind in primary school.
I discussed how Marco might be feeling and challenged her to try and make Marc smile once this week. She guffawed and said in an exasperated tone, ‘Mum! That will be impossible!’ I just smiled and said, ‘Just keep a lookout for an opportunity’
And do you know what? She arrived home yesterday LUNCHTIME grinning her little butt off, yelling up the stairs (we live in a third floor flat) ‘Guess what? I didn’t just make Marco smile – I made him laugh – TWICE!’
Then later at bedtime she said, ‘Marco has changed somehow.’ I said ‘For the better?’ She smiled and said ‘Yes!’ Before I turned the light out I said: ‘Poppy you changed the world today.’ And for once she didn’t argue.