The best conversations come from no-where. You're laying on top of her bed at the end of a long day. You've talked about the green piece of putty that's remained on the ceiling since the day it was thrown just that little bit too high. There are giggles, conversations about Halloween, soccer and choir. You ask about recess and she mentions a group.
"Do you want to be in the group?"
"No. I don't think so, I don't really have the right clothes."
Within the very same split second that you're horrified with the materialism of a ten year old, you're also slightly offended that the wardrobe you've played a part in is deemed unfit.
"What sort of stuff do they wear?"
"Well you know the couch the beagle sleeps on, one has a skirt like that - except without the dog hair".
You both giggle.
"So how do you know you're not in the group?"
"They just don't talk to you when you sit down."
"The girls in the group? How do they choose who's in the group?
"I think you have to have shiny hair, white teeth and dress like it's picture day every day"
By the time you're twelve it's a little more sophisticated. You're out to lunch, you've discussed French homework, re-sitting the math test and the book that she's finished last night. A name is mentioned, "and then she said, if you wore make-up you'd be so pretty".
"What did you say?" you asked gently, while contemplating a hit man.
"I just smiled. They say it like they're giving you a compliment".
You admire her perceptiveness.
"You know how gorgeous you are right? You do know that, right?"
"Yes Mum" and there's the eye roll, but it's a good eye roll. A thank you eye roll.
The game has moved to a different location and the rules have changed. You can't organize a play-date, tell everyone to share, and put someone on the naughty step. You no longer listen out to hear if anyone's hurt, you listen in for inflections, clues. You arrive five minutes earlier to pick up at soccer so you can see if she's okay, see who she pairs up with. You watch and wait for the next installment without pushing to hard for the details.
You kiss them goodnight and remind them of your own group.
"We're here, whenever you need us".
"You know you're gorgeous. Right?"