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18 April 2012


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I think you should mention it to the teacher - to at least request that she alternate between letting them choose who to partner with and with teacher assigned pairs to get the kids to mix things up. It isn't a marriage, it is a PE class. And this is exactly the right time in their lives to mix with other people out of their circle. But they won't choose that, NO ONE would, at any age. We seek what we know and is familiar and comfortable.

She should help with their growth not be a passive lump.


I'm a grade 1 teacher and I would NEVER let my students pair themselves, especially in gym class! For so many reasons, including the fact that they'll never learn to work with anyone else if they're always paired with their friends. I think the same rule applies in a grade 3 class. You shouldn't have to say anything to the teacher because she should already know, but since she doesn't I think a mention would be appropriate.


I would absolutely have a discussion with the teacher. That is ridiculous. The teacher should be helping to build confidence in ALL of the students, not watching them play Lord of the Flies. This makes me so angry.


Although this post made me incredibly sad, the end thought I had was "Thank God she Ceila has such an amazing mom." I love how you fiercely look out for your kids - I don't know what to tell you to do, but my gut reaction was "screw those girls." Who died and left them queen? I'd rather see your daughter love who she is and enjoy who she's with that have her judge herself with other girls as measuring sticks. But I know that's naive....and obviously if it's affecting her school-work, etc., something needs to be done. So I'm no help - but I do think she's lucky and awesome and beautiful and amazing. Just like her mom.


I LOVE this post. My son ( 4th grade) has academic difficulties as well. And he isn't a jock. He is kind, considerate, friendly but because he struggles in school and doesn't excel in sports, I too believe he is "just there". Not disliked at all, but not the kid that other kids fall all over trying to be bff's with because he isn't the shining star. Can I just say I soooooo get your post! I so get it! And you know, I think it would just be so awesome if somehow this post landed in her inbox. Because you have said it so, so well! I have two older girls who have alwasy excelled in school. And now I have a son who struggles. And until you experience it yourself- you just don't fucking get it. So yeah--I'd just throw it out there. You know, just say....food for thought. Good luck!


Oh, and just to add one last thought - I think it's awful that the teacher allows the students to choose every time. S/he should know better - kids always end up feeling left out and when the teacher manages things, it doesn't happen. So I don't think talking to the teacher is a bad idea either.


I would mention it. I lost it when I read " Awesome sauce".


Speak with the teacher!!! And appear reasonable, I like Gina's suggestion of a request to alternate.

And I do feel that if the teacher is non responsive, you need to escalate to the principle. The troubled girl deserves new pairings too.

And trust me, as long as your daughter retains her own personality it will get better. I was a weakling, very smart and a reader and several months younger than my class mates (thanks Mom - one of her few regrets that I regret too) so I was picked on many times until about 5th grade and ALWAYS picked last for times. Well right before the fat kids and the truly strange. (Wasn't hated - just an easy target- i was an alternate victim when the truly bullied weren't around. Hmmmmmmmmmmm let's see- - for one entire year, 4rth grade, I was "Rebecca of Funny Freak Farm" . . ...)

But for some reason, most of the time, it didnt bug me. Yes I had a few tearful days but stuck to being smart and asking for extra trips to the school library. I was VERY chatty and usually very sunny of disposition. So by 6th grade, I had my niche, my classmates respected me and had a couple of besties.

So encourage her hobbies, make her take lessons in something and make her stick to something until at least junior high and tell her to stay true to herself!! Eventually like will find like.

Though after raising my own daughter, it will be a bit harder with all the technology and designer crap out there.



Awww... I hate to see that she is feeling bad about that situation. I agree that you should mention it to the teacher.

Maybe you just didn't get into more details on the other girls' behavior here, but I have to say that I don't necessarily think the "popular/sporty" girls are in the wrong, themselves, for choosing their partners based on who they wanted to be partners with. It is natural. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't like Celia, as they told you. If you only get to choose one partner, then you're going to choose the person you like best. (This, of course, is why the teacher should do the choosing.) Maybe they really are little jerks (I know girls can be), but I think it is possible that anger toward them would be misdirected if their only crime is picking thier best friend to be partners with in PE.


I agree with all who suggested that you have a talk with the teacher, and then do speak with the principal if there's no change.


I think it's most fair to have the teacher select partners. It shouldn't be limited to same sex either. Pair the slowest kid with the fastest sometimes. The skilled and the unskilled. Both parties learn - either patience or new skills or empathy. They're not just there for some physical activity. On the playground, this sort of thing can't be controlled. But in class, the teacher should take charge and be inclusive. It's not a competition, so it's not about everyone getting a trophy. It's about learning teamwork and getting some exercise.


Also, it's 3rd grade. I didn't really have any close friends until I was probably in 8th grade or high school. So try to reassure her somehow that it will get better.


I think you should talk to the teacher and suggest she do her job and assign partners. Come on, she should be able to see what's going on there. She needs to take ownership of her responsibilities, not leave it to the children.

Mrs. D

I would also speak to the teacher. Children are not at school to be left to their own devices, but rather to learn realities about life and to try to instil a sense of equality and humility which may not always come naturally or be lessons they learn at home. As a queer woman, I know first hand the importance of not letting children simply operate in their natural social cliques, but rather to challenge them and try to plant a seed of acceptance and humble awareness of the variations and contributions of people.

Danielle (elleinadspir)

Dude - parenting is hard. I see this shit with B and his class already!! He tells me that one kid dominates the recess activities and who and can play with who. Kills me. I would say something to the teacher if I were you. I know that sucks to do and is hard - but seems needed.


Sounds like the teacher is being lazy. I'm sorry your baby is getting her feelings hurt. I would so be there with you wanting to kick those others ass as well. I hate it when I can do nothing but stand to the side while my son suffers in silence.

Good luck.



No, you should not mention it to the teacher. You're not in charge, it's not your class, and you can't arrange the way a gym class works so that your child feels better. I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it does, but I do mean it.


I teach sixth grade and this is exactly why I tell my students the first day of school that I will always assign them a partner. Every day. Every activity in my room.


I would mention it to the teacher AND tell your daughter that third grade doesn't matter in the long road. You're a great mama-bear.


Thanks to some fucked up teachers I was like your daughter. My saving grace was that I was good at sports so the boys chose me on their team...but everything else sucked....like being the only one not get a reading part in a Christmas recital in 5th grade...and if I had the balls to tell my parents, instead of going home and feeling like I didn't deserve a part, I know my mom would have confronted the teacher...but i didn't.

It wasn't until college that I learned I wasn't/didn't have to be the one that was just there- not disliked but not one that was invited to parties with the in crowd.

As a teacher now, I would be open to you coming to talk to me about what I could do to help your daughter...that's my suggestion. so your daughter doesn't have to wait as long as I did to realize self worth.



When i was 8 i was made fun of a lot...for being fat. SHMAURA SHMORREA (we'll call her) was the girl in my class who led the charge to make fun of me, tease me, leave me out, etc...I have not forgiven or forgotten, can you tell? Well, fast forward 20 years later,I saw her at a wedding, I was at my skinniest adult weight, kind of a hot mess but, nevertheless I looked better than her. She was an easy 250+. After many, many alcoholic beverages I walked up to her on the dance floor and said, "you know what I think is funny?" and she asked me "what?"I responded, "I think it's funny that you tormented me for being fat in 3rd grade and now your way fatter than me." She stormed off crying and I went and did another shot of Jose Cuervo. My point? Other than to smile at my story again...is not to tell you to tell your darling daughter don't worry in 20 years that she can give those little bitches a piece of her mind...my point is that it all evens out...it's hard to assure her of this now. But I have no doubt the best is yet to come for Celia. How about signing her up for an activity not involving those kids from school? Or doing something special with just you and her once a week? I went to a performing arts camp in my tween years and it changed by life. Anyhoo, this is the first time I've posted and just had to speak up...in solidarity with the less popular. I think you are a fab mom/blogger. I wish we were friends.


I am 38 years old and still remember the hot embarassment of being chosen second-to-last for every gym class. Our gym teacher would pick 2 captains who would then alternate choosing teams. Without fail I was always nearly last chosen. One girl who was heavy and shy was always chosen last. Even still I feel anger towards my gym teacher. Why would he let this go on?

Yes you should talk to the teacher! Trust me.

grace in chattanooga

Not completely knowing the situation and speaking as a high school teacher and not an elementary one, I would ask the teacher to do the pairing at least half the time. At least. I do that with my own students if we're doing group work. Half the time, I make them work with whoever is nearest or I pair them with a purpose in mind. Half the time, I let them choose. For little kids, I personally would probably make the ratio about 75% my decision (because I'm the trained professional grown up in the situation, hello) and about 25% theirs. And hell yes I still fight and fought my kids' battles for some of the years of their childhood. Because I remember wishing my mom would and how wonderful it felt the few times she did. You are a good mom; you will do what's right for this situation, I *know* it.


Ugh... as the parent of a third grade daughter at a parochial school, with only 3 other girls in her class (and 17 boys), it has been a terrible couple of years socially for my kid. Couple that with the fact that my 8 year old holds a grudge till kingdom come and its not a good situation. Many tears, "everyone hates me", "everyone has a BFF except me" (ugh this BFF term has got me in knots). She has become depressed and I have brought her to counseling because I don't know what else to do, the teacher doesn't see any problems , however when asked to fill out paperwork for her counselor appt teacher noted "no problems, she does cry often and easily though, often 2-3 times a day" (this was after denying any probs at conferences)..
Exclusion is a form of bullying, and especially at a Catholic school I would remind the princpal of this tenet of our faith to be OPEN TO ALL and the importance of befriending everyone, being kind to everyone, etc. Make a stink to the principal. Prayers coming your daughters way. Also my kid has been started on prozac 5 mg , something I vowed to never do. She is MISERABLE however and I can't stand to see her in pain, "I want to die", blah blah. I fear she's bipolar but I am keeping an open mind. I have four other kids and she sticks out like a sore thumb. (She is so beautiful and smart and she doesn't see it)


Jeez Kasey. Got children? The fact is, you should always be an advocate for your child. Her child is very unhappy, and Shana has an opportunity to possibly rectify that situation. She isn't storming into school demanding a curriculum change for goodness sake. Could be many of the children in that class are unhappy with the type of partnering.


I would definitely talk to the teacher. Sometimes teachers don't see things from the parental side and maybe if you mention it, she will have a lightbulb moment.
Hugs to you and Celia!


I think there is definitely a way to say something without "infringing" on the teacher and his or her class. I don't agree with letting the kids choose their own partners. I'm a high school teacher and I won't let my kids choose their own groups or partners for this exact reason! Kids can be such little shitheads and KNOW IT and not care. That's what bugs the hell out of me because I KNOW it's coming from the parents!

You know that YouTube video that has been circulating about "It Gets Better"? I think there should be one for girls (and boys) in grammar school because, shit, grammar school SUCKS for some kids. So does high school. And it DOES get better, maybe not easier, but definitely better. And you're right, those girls that are such little bitches probably won't turn out nearly as wonderful as your girls will.


Why can't the teacher just pick names out of a hat or something? And discipline the kid that makes a nasty face if he/she doesn't like her partner. You'd think with all the talk of bullying going around that these people could actually try and think of some solutions to head it off at the pass.

Ashley Hast

Tell the teacher to suck your balls. Sorry, just the first mature thought that came to my mind. My oldest girl is 8 and in 2nd grade. This is the first year she's been unhappy EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. to go to school, hates her teacher, is picked on, cries about it every day, etc. They run into the same problem, but one of the *few* decent things her teacher does is rearrange them for activites differently every few times. Sometimes it's in alphabetical order, others from height, birthday, drawing straws, random numbers, etc. Then everyone *really* gets a chance to know everyone.


The teacher should at least mix it up sometimes so the girls can learn to be cooperative. It's so hard to see your child feel left out. My heart breaks just hearing about it and she's not even mine!


Oh my heart is breaking for your girl. I was the kid that was "just there" too. I wasn't "popular" (what the heck does that mean in 3rd grade anyway?) or the outcast either. However,in gym class I was always the last to be picked on a team. Uncoordinated, afraid of heights, chubby, awkward and also forced to take "special gym", which was an extra gym class once a week for us "special" kids. I still remember the shame. Gah. I pretty much cried at least once every gym class for most of elementary school.

Needless to say I think you should mention something to the teacher as well. It might be that he/she doesn't realize the repercussions of allowing the kids to choose their own partners. There is such a big push nowadays for making physical activity a positive experience for kids and encouraging them to play outside and move around more. A gym teacher's job is to make physical activity fun, and positive, especially at the elementary school level. Point this out to the teacher and then see what happens. Good luck.


As a parent and a substitute teacher I would tell the teacher AND the principal AND the school board. This is ridiculous and EVERY teacher knows how kids operate. Celia is not the only child who has to deal with this...bless her heart. It makes me sick for her. When I teach and we have to pair up I have them stand in alphabetical order and tell them to turn to their right/left there's your partner. Or I do even/odd numbers while they are lined up and your partner is the next even/odd number for example 1 would partner with 3 and 2 with 4 etc. There are many ways to pair kids up and NO they don't get a vote.


Oh God. I don't know what I'd do. So much of this sounds so familiar, but slightly different circumstances. This parenting shit is f'in' hard, man. And some days it just kills me inside.


While I recommend talking to the teacher and possibly principal it may not be for the reason you think. I just did this for my kid. Teacher said she thought the unfair practice I didn't like was a great learning experience for the kids and then announced to the class that I had complained about it. Then principal said that this would never happen at her school and that the teacher was very professional and wouldn't say something like that in front of the class. We ended up in a meeting where the teacher admitted it proudly in front of the principal at which the principal said well, if it's meant to be a learning experience, then let's not be helicopter parents. So, in essence, I lost all the way around, BUT, my child knew that I disagreed with those values and stood up for my point of view, and THAT is why I think you should do the same. (As a side note, after that meeting the teacher just so happened to decide to try another approach, and I suspect the principal gave her a talking-to outside of my earshot.)


I was the skinny unathletic kid that no one wanted to be paired with :(. I would have been happy to sit out PE every time but there was no such luck and whoever got paired with me was stuck with me. My older son is thankfully a bit more graceful than his mother and thankfully has a personality and determination that gets him through the toughest of situations, even athletically.

Talk to the teacher--take the next step if you don't get resolve--and keep cheering your girl on and instilling that she is a smart, beautiful child and EVERYONE has their difficulties. Sorry, no one gets a pass and no one is exempt--I'm a firm believer in that!


Sorry to hear what your gal is going through and, yes, I'd definitely talk to the teacher. Kids should NOT be picking their partners every time. How clueless do you have to be to not know that's going to cause hurt feelings??? Teacher needs to do her job and take charge!

Jenn T

What kind of shithole school do your girls attend? In the elementary school where I work, the PE quickly, fairly, and efficiently divides teams, matches partners, or whatnot.


I have no advice here. I'm sorry she's encountering this in third grade. Jeez. My heart goes out to her, and to you. I would talk to the teacher if you like her.
Also, I highly suggest reading "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth." I'm over halfway though and it's all about how people just like Celia end up being the most interesting, fun, intelligent, compassionate, and resourceful adults. (Ahem, also, I may have fit into this group as a child.) Not that she can see that far down the road now. but it might make YOU feel better in the meantime, and give you some vocabulary or ideas to discuss with her. xoxo


I would go directly to the teacher! You're right..we are living in a society right now full of inconsiderate, asshole people who are raising their children to be just like them. Sitting back and allowing it to happen helps nobody! I'd put it exactly like you put it in your post too. I think it's wrong that the teacher is not doing the pairing or having a drawing pairing. She's setting the situation up to ensure feelings and esteem takes a whack.

You're never wrong when advocating for your child...IMO.


Um I was always last picked. I think I was only bothered really when it came to square dancing, because I actually liked it. But I always knew I'd pair up with a weakling boy or girl and I was fine with that.

But that's just me.

As for trophies, I'm all over that. As in NOT giving out trophies just for sneezing. I swear. Do not get me started. Seriously.


I'm going to go all crazy here and reply to two people. As to Kasey, I agree to a point. Something like PE and choose your own partner is not worth interfering in. It is the PE teacher's class and if she has set the rules this way, then I agree, don't interfere. UNLESS your kid is miserable. Which I get that your kid, Shana, isn't thrilled to always be with the troubled child. If the kid is truly a troubled child, then I say sure you might have her speak to the teacher first and then yourself. I would say even the teacher would recognize the unfairness of the situation if your kid presented herself well.

As for Stacy, I'm going to say a hearty NO, it is not okay to always advocate for your child. Kids these days don't know how to do anything for themselves because Mommy always does it for them. Why are there so many kid suicides and bullying problems? Because the parents don't teach their kids to handle things themselves. Trust me on this; I teach college and the new generation is unbelievably helpless at handling life.

Which is why I'm saying to have your kid talk to the PE teacher. If you want to stand behind her, physically, to make sure she expresses herself properly, then by all means. But for you to go up there and ask about it, come on, you've subbed up there enough to know how it works and how parents are viewed.

And that being said, please no one come attack me. It's hard watching your kid hurt and believe me, I'm going through it right now with my 3rd grader.


Wow Kasey I am glad you are not my mom! I agree parents can't fix everything and I try to stay out of most playground disputes because I feel for the most part that kids need to try and work/figure things out on their own (unless of course bullying or physical/emotional harm is being inflicted). However, the teacher is in charge and needs to be made aware of the situation. I have found that sometimes teachers are unaware of some of the social dynamics going on. Maybe they shouldn't be but giving them the benefit of the doubt--they are concentrating on a lot of different things in a room full of 20 plus kids. The teacher might even be grateful that you brought this to their attention.
My personal opinion is that one of the reasons some teachers choose to teach is because they love school, they excelled at it, they have fond memories of that time in their life, they loved their teachers and their teachers loved them--in other words they weren't the kid who was left out, ignored or bullied. Sometimes even as adults they remain naiive about some of these dynamics.
There are little jerks in every class but I agree with the others--you can't blame the kids, they do what is comfortable and usually have to be nudged to step outside their comfort zone. The teacher needs to know and change things up.


Hi Shanna! That teacher needs to get her head out of her ass. Talk to her, reason with her, make her understand how your heart shatters for your precious daughter. Show your child that you listen and understand and advocate for her, and that she can always come to you with her feelings of insecurity. Sorry for being a couple of weeks late, but this post just killed me, having been your daughter and having daughters and just....don't feel bad at all about getting in there with that teacher.


Coming in late here... but I think your third grade daughter and my third grade daughter would get along fabulously.
We ate at the same place about a week after you (post OKC half) and I recall the same look on my 3rd grader.... but for the opposite reason. She was quite peeved that we DARED to sit INSIDE. Hmmm... I'm pretty sure we just asked for whatever was available!! I think it's more a matter of "I didn't get my way" with her though.....
Girls are just mean. Period. I watch mine just throw up her hands and walk away from the BS that is the 3rd grade social circle. She does better with the boys. Less drama and cattiness, more accepting.


I'm late to the party...just curious if you ever spoke to the teacher? I agree with the majority here. I think it can be beneficial to your daughter, but also the rest of the kids, too :)

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