Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Teen Toxemia

As my mother always says, be careful what you wish for, it might come true. My teenaged twins - the darling chubby dumpling babies that I travelled across the world to adopt, that I coaxed and nurtured through deeply debilitating shyness, that I worried would never have more than one friend - are, all of a sudden, very popular in school. They are popular enough that some of the girls they hang with are really popular. And you know what that means. Mean girls. Toxic teens.

To clarify (which I spent much of the weekend doing with various teens and mothers of teens), my daughters don't actually do any bullying or soul destroying. But they are good friends with people who do. And I know they're not five anymore and I can't plan playdates for them and be in control of who they're friends with. This is a sin of omission rather than commision. But there's still the troubling little part about the sin.... Isn't there a poem about this?

First they came for the math nerds, but I was not a math nerd so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the potheads, but I was not a pothead out so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the fashion challenged, but I was not fashion challenged so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out (except my mom and dad, but I'd rather die than have them show up at school).

So I'm relieved that my kids aren't the ones saying mean-spirited, cutting remarks to girls they've known since they were six. But I'm also saddened that they're not fighting at the barricades of highschool decency, dumping the queen bees and defending the wanna bees. But they're 14, and that's more than a lot of grown ups can manage. Still....


more cowbell said...

Ooh, that's a hard one. That whole mean girl thing - I think I'd prefer an out and out fist fight to the passive aggressive feeling-hurting stuff, ha! It's really hard for "nice girls" to navigate that whole scene - do you choose the high road, and risk being the next target? Or keep yourself safe and maybe even 'popular'? Not an easy choice - like you said, even for grownups. I wouldn't be 14 again for anything.

I think eventually though, the home influence trumps the other stuff -- hang in there, mom.

claire said...

The problem is that there is always a core. The three or four who call the shots. And part of the dynamic in these cabals is that they also cannibalize their own group. Because part of their power is that they can include people in the group or EXCLUDE people in their group. So every now and then someone in the group is targeted and kicked out. I hope it's not either of your kids. If they were REAL assholes, they would choose one twin over the other.

I actually predict this will happen because I live in an area where that kind of cruelty is institutionalized. Nothing worse than a bunch of privileged white girls exercizing their power.

Nothing you can do about this other than be there for them if something like this happens.


Elizabeth said...

cowbell: I think they see their place as 'the girls who get along with everyone. Which, in high school, might be the impossible road. Yeah, I wouldn't be 14 again for a diamond as big as my head.

Claire: Yikes!! I hadn't even thought of the toxic ones trying to play twin against twin. You have a wicked, tisted mind, dear. Or maybe it's just that nice daughter of yours in that privileged suburban highschool. Unfortunately, the alpha girls in our case come from seriously messed up families and they're all about spreading that joy.

And you're both right. All I can do is go on being my embarassing huggy, kissy self (at home, when they sometimes show that they need help and reassurance).

LilyLove said...

I think that if they were raised right at home...and it definitely sounds like they were...then they will make the right choices. I was raised by a loving, wonderful mom and I think I turned out all right. I did make those ugly remarks and said things that I regretted in my quest to be cool...but my heart always won out and in the end, I am still friends with the girl I grew up with, even though she was not that "cool" in high school. Don't worry too much about it. We all come back around eventually!