I read a book years ago titled, Queen Bees and Wannabes. In it, the author talks about the roles girls play, whether they like it or not, and includes tips for parents on how to help their daughters through the trials of Girl World. (If you want a quick fix instead, watch the movie Mean Girls.)
Because I am a girl, and I have given birth to two girls, I can say this without bias: girls are a pain in the ass. The drama that follows girls around is like a loyal puppy—it never goes away! And it starts younger and younger these days. We’ve all had to deal with versions of the Mean Girl throughout our lives. Some of us got through it fairly unscathed, while others were imprisoned. I can’t imagine dealing with the latter; the stories I’ve heard from other mothers and their daughters is downright terrifying.
But even with the subtler dealings girls endure: whispers, snide looks, insults, gossip…these transgressions can instantly rip away the solid foundation of anyone having to deal with ordinary day to day life, which as we all know is hard enough. Girls will always have to work harder than boys for equal pay and recognition. I hope that before I die, this will finally be a non-issue. This is just one reason we should all be in this together, not battling it out on the playground. (The war of the “working mom” versus the “stay at home mom” should have been settled long ago. Personally, I’ve always thought the term “working mom” was redundant. Every mom works, regardless if it’s at an office or at home. Period. Please, let’s MOVE ON from this.)
But there’s another sad reality involved: Some things never change no matter how old you get. Girls grow up to be women. But that doesn’t mean they grow out of being a Mean Girl. Like Bobbsey Twins, mother/daughter mean girls are leaders of their pack. There are thousands of mini-me’s following in the footsteps of their first teachers. They’ve learned how to lie, cheat, and beam their false smiles at the world with absolute pride and prejudice because they learned how at the foot of the masters.
These women have had decades of experience, and from my personal experience, cleave onto their daughters because they’re truly the only friends they have left. Adults usually don’t put up with this nonsense, but that doesn’t keep it from occurring. Worse still, they usually focus their attention on the very girls their daughters have already targeted. They’ve transgressed to their former selves and relish in the same childish antics they should have left behind long ago. The targets have doubled.
Words, one of my favorite things in the whole world, can do more damage psychologically than almost anything. The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rings more true today than it ever has.
Girls are their own worst enemies. But they don't have to be.
Photo: Michael Dombierer