Mean Girls

There’s a reason that movie with Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams is still watched religiously by some. It’s because it’s true. Girls can be mean. Boys too, yes, I know. But girls – particularly middle school girls – have this way of digging under another girl’s skin. They know what buttons to push. Which insecurities to target. And they can be just plain mean. Mean Girls should have been set in middle school. Except then it would be a horror movie, not a comedy.

My 12-year-old daughter is in her first year of middle school. So far this year she’s fallen face first into a bench in the locker room on the very first day (several people have asked me if she was pushed), been shoved to the ground and bullied by another girl on the school bus, and been called a “fuck face” by a teammate and once-upon-a-time friend of hers. Yes, it’s been an eventful year – and it’s not even Thanksgiving.

What I haven’t mentioned is how, in that same stretch of time, she’s been uplifted by friends who saw her saddened to lose a wrestling meet, encouraged by a friend who told her not to worry about bullies and invited over for a dance party in that same friend’s living room. There are mean girls. But, there are truly wonderful nice girls, too.

When my daughter called me during school earlier this week to tell me she overheard her teammate calling her a “fuck face” to another girl, I took the “kill her with kindness approach.” I told her how she shouldn’t let someone else’s actions impact her own character. I told her to continue being kind to this girl and, in the words of the great Taylor Swift, to “shake it off.” So far so good.

Middle school was rough for a dork like me. I had the big glasses, pulled up over your belly button pants and was 100% oblivious to the “beauty” needs other girls my age were struggling with. So, I made friends with other friends like me. Cue the Island of Misfit Toys theme… Yes, Perks of Being a Wallflower had it right. The trick was to find others who weren’t necessarily just like me – but liked me for the dork that I was. The dork that was okay with laughing at myself – better to point out your own flaws than to have a bully do it for you.

Mean girls aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the original  just celebrated its 10 year anniversary last month. A reunion of mean girls. There’s enough material there to bring you sequels in the vein of the “Halloween” movies for years and decades to come.

What do you tell your kids when they encounter mean girls (or boys)?



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