The school year has begun for all of us. Rob is holding off the stress (no grading yet), I think I have a good (though small) group of students in the one class I teach face-to-face this semester, and Emma is absolutely thrilled to be in the Upper Elementary class and away from the kids who caused her such heartache last year.
Last year it had gotten so bad that it affected her all the time, from separation-anxiety, to trouble sleeping, to complaining all the time. This year, she loves one of her new teachers, she's seeing the positive in her fellow students instead of focusing on the negative, and she's so eager to go to school that she's usually ready to leave before I am.
I know it's only been a week, but the youngest group of girls in last year's class seemed to create a toxic environment that I'm so glad she's out of. On the first day of school this week, when Rob was walking Emma from the school to the car, one of her former classmates came up to her and said "K told me that you think I'm really annoying." And the problem isn't that this girl said that to Emma --in fact, I think that's a good way to deal with it, being up front and just asking: Did you say that about me? But why would K say that to this girl in the first place? What kind of a child goes up to another child and says "Hey, Emma says that you're annoying"? She is betraying her friendship with Emma by repeating something Emma may have said in confidence, and she's being mean to this other girl. There is a whole group of kids who are now in their second year of Middle Elementary who acted like this all last year. Luckily, Emma won't have them in her class again, since Upper Elementary is only two years. By the time they move to UE, she'll be moving into Middle School.
We all have to learn who we can trust, and who we can't. This situation makes me think of one that Rob and I encountered several years ago. Rob had a friend, S, and he was living with a woman (J). J wanted to get married and have kids, S wasn't so sure (he was divorced, with grown kids). S broke up with J, and spent quite a bit of time with us, saying unkind things about J, and generally moaning about the relationship. Rob and I made the mistake of admitting that we'd never really cared for J as we tried to cheer him up. Big mistake! S got back together with J, and then asked Rob to be in their wedding. Very awkward, and a good lesson for us --mostly the only people we confide in these days is each other.