Mean Girls are Mean.
And they grow up to be Mean Women.
Then many of those Mean Women have bambinos and become Mean Moms, who often times raise more Mean Girls.
Now that they have the internet, being mean just locally is a thing of the past – they have an entire world full of people to harass, belittle and make cry.
And Mean Girls conquered me for a long time.
But this is also “The One That Has a Happy Ending”
I hated school from 2nd-9th grade. HATED it.
I went to a private school in the 2nd grade and met Mean Girl Numero Uno (Ground Zero). I lost my best friend since birth to someone who felt it necessary to remind me how much better she was than me on a daily basis. And I made a terrible mistake. I believed her. I unwittingly let it break me and chose to be a victim.
As quickly as I can synopsize 7 years, this is how it went down:
3RD Grade: Back to public school, where apparently in the 2nd grade all the girls I had known from K-1st had formed their life long cliques – which I wasn’t a part of. So, I made friends with boys. Which was fine. I like boys – and I mean this sincerely – because they are so uncomplicated. (Women are crazy. I can say this because I am one, but if you’re a man – that previous sentence is OFF-LIMITS -within earshot of course.)
4th Grade: Still mostly boy friends – and to be fair, I had a LOT of fun playing the girl character in Voltron, GI Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, et al at recess. But it was the year I was introduced to ridicule en masse. I didn’t dress the right way, didn’t watch the right things and because it was my fault no could see Michael Jackson’s new music video, Thriller, in P.E. because my mom called the school and complained.
5th Grade: Met three really awesome girls this year, but in my need to be accepted by all, kept trying to please and hang with one of the cliques. In fact, head Mean Girl invited me to her slumber party. (Which you would think I would have been more intuitive about since she never spoke to me – right? My 10 year old self was naive. Actually. My 37 year old self is kind of naive too.) That night I watched my first R rated movie – Poltergeist. And it terrified me. Especially the part where the son is pulled under his bed by a possessed clown doll (I STILL hate that movie). So, I remember being terrified. I remember whispering, I remember all the other girls running upstairs – and I remember going up there to lay out my sleeping bag in the only available space. And I remember the birthday girl smiling sweetly while she said, “We saved you a spot,” and pointed next to her bed.
6th Grade: New school. Met new head Mean Girl and for whatever reason made it my life’s mission to make her and her minions like me, making myself miserable in the process.
7th Grade: Started riding the bus where I found a threatening note in my school bag. Several mean notes and two months later, the writer of the notes was discovered – Older Mean Girl on the bus and her minions. Seriously. It would have been easier if I had just told people up front – “HEY! I’m an easy target with low self-esteem! I’ll fold immediately!”
8th Grade: When you choose to be a victim, not only does your peer group harass you, so do Mean Girls who decided to become teachers. I’m talking to you Mrs. White, computer teacher who yelled at me in front of the entire class for cheating despite my repeated attempts to tell you I hadn’t and you didn’t even apologize when the real culprit came forward because he didn’t want to see me crying anymore. Grrr.
9th Grade: New school, same kids, but new Mean Girl. And this one told everyone that I was having sex with one of the guys on swim team. My cries of “That’s not true! I am not! I don’t even think I really know what sex is yet! The only R rated movie I’ve ever seen is Poltergeist!” were drowned out by the deafening roar of “School Slut!”
10th Grade: New district, new school, new peer group that I’ve been grateful for ever since. Yay!
I didn’t magically become a strong person in the 10th grade – I was just surrounded by nicer people. (If you are reading this and have a daughter or son that is being relentlessly tormented – sometimes they just need a new peer group. I would look into other school options, because not everyone on the planet is a jackwagon. Promise.) There have been instances over the course of my life where I have run across other Mean Girls. I didn’t respond on the outside as I did when I was younger, but the feelings that they caused were all there on the inside.
WHY U NO BE FUNNY CRAZY AS NORMAL? Within a period of two days three BB’s (Blog Besties) were harassed with emails and/or comments by Mean Moms and Mean Women. Their intents were questioned, their parenting skills derided, and ultimately – their feelings hurt. And it makes me angry. Like this —–> >=|
And they, the Mean Girls, are everywhere. They are in the grocery store giving you disapproving glares. They’re at the PTA meeting, giving you a cursory smile and hello when you know for a fact she had said horrible things about you earlier in the day. They’re at your job, trying to bend all to their will and gossiping out the wazoo. They’re at your place of worship, except they start the gossiping with “We need to pray for…”. They’re on the internet, trolling and sending hateful emails. And the really wealthy ones who live in nice towns are all on Bravo’s “Real Housewives”. It’s true.
I know what some of you are thinking, but here’s the deal – Nice Moms and Nice Woman can’t “man-up” and not let it affect us. You know what? Nix that. We can “man-up”, but we choose not to. It’s that very ability, to feel things so deeply, that makes us great moms and great women.
What happened was in my quest to be a peacemaker – in my quest to make everyone like me – in my decision to tuck tail and not mess with the Alpha Dog – I lost me.
So what do you do? Walk away. Delete it. Don’t read it again. Don’t listen to it. Burn it. Run over it with an 18-wheeler. You know, whatever works best for you. You can’t logically reason with them, you can’t change their mind, you can’t make them be nice. And when they hear or read stories, they don’t recognize themselves as the antagonist in the scene. And I was being all metaphorical when I said run over it – please don’t run over anyone.
I want to go back in time and tell my 7 year old self to not believe Mean Girl Ground Zero. That she is so much more than what she thinks she is and there is so much more to life, living and happiness, but she probably wouldn’t listen to me much in the same way she didn’t listen when her mother told her the same thing. (Brat. Maybe I’ll just go back in time and spank her. I mean me. Whatevs.)
I started writing this post yesterday, and last night my mom & I went to Max’s ceremony to be inducted in the National Junior Honor Society (yes, I’m bragging a little bit, but I also want to know where I can pick up a “My Kid is an Honor Student But He Still Can’t Figure Out How to Make His Bed” bumper sticker.) and before it started, she was telling me about the horrible bullying that was going on with a friend’s daughter who is in the 7th grade. Again. Grrrr.
We write books about Mean Girls. We have Anti-Bullying campaigns that address Mean Girls. We have movies about Mean Girls – and you see that “©” up there? I’ve already started on the Mean Moms© book and screenplay – so don’t even think about it. Despite our pleas to Mean Moms and Mean Girls and Mean Women to break the cycle, I think we are preaching to the choir. (Also. Someone needs to come up with a better analogy. That one is old and boring. You can © that.)
It’s the Nice Girls, the Nice Women, the Nice Moms that are going to have to change. Not care, not give audience to them in person or in our heads, not watch (I know – you love “Real Housewives”. But I’m not watching.) And I know you do care. And I know it does hurt. But you wake up in the morning and you say to yourself “I don’t care,” and when you remember it again at lunch, remind yourself that you don’t care, and when you wake up at 2 in the morning thinking about it, remind yourself that you don’t care. When you practice this over and over again, one day you’ll wake up and realize you honestly Don’t Care.
I desperately want to quote “The Help” here, but that is so incredibly cliché and I am trying to be hip and different over here. (And despite my eldest’s attempts to tell me how ridiculous I look when I put my ball cap on sideways and say, “Yo, yo, yo – how’s it goin, man?” I know that I’m being insanely cool.) So I’m not going to, I’m going to quote Stuart Smalley instead:
“You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You.” <—Happy Ending. Told you. =)