My soon to be eleven-year-old daughter had a sleepover the other day. She was set on making sushi and slime (which turned out to be much less mess than I anticipated) and invited four of her friends, who were just as excited about sushi and slime as she was. The evening began with the giddiness and enthusiasm that only eleven-year-old girls can muster, with everyone laughing and talking all at once. However, soon things changed.
One of the girls, who struggles with regulating her emotions, had a meltdown. This girl was verbally lashing out at the other girls, crying, and sitting in a corner, holding herself while rocking back and forth. When she first became upset, the other girls tried to assist her in calming down, but when she told them to leave her alone, they respected her wishes. The girls began making their sushi but every now and then, one of them would visually check on their distressed friend.
When the girl was ready to rejoin her friends, it appeared she was unsure how to do so. She hovered beyond where the other girls were, saying they wouldn’t want to talk to her when she was angry and crying. And then I watched as the four girls circled their friend, hugging her, and making her laugh. They pulled her to the table and began instructing her on how to make sushi. Within minutes they were all laughing and joking with each other.
What I found so impressive was that these girls accepted their friend’s struggle. They knew when she needed space and they knew when she needed to be engulfed. No one told her she was acting like a baby. No one told her they didn’t want to hang out with her. They love her as she is. And she had the courage to receive their love.
These fifth-grade girls demonstrated grace and understanding. They know we all have our struggles. They know we all have our strengths. They know it takes guts to ask for help. They know we are better when we lift each other up.