It all really does start around age 5 doesn’t it? The whispering, snickering, eye rolling. If babies are truly born with a blank slate, where do girls learn this bad behavior from?
The other day, my little angel ignored a little girl at the park and caused her to cry because she was still mad at her from the other day when the little girl ignored my daughter. Clearly my daughter had already learned the tried and true tactic of stonewalling and the silent treatment at age 5. The other day an 8 year old little tyrant wouldn’t play with my daughter at a kid’s bday party, rolled her eyes at her, and caused my little girl to be upset the whole day. They both knew that the eye roll was textbook mean girl behavior.
Ladies do you think men do stuff like this to each other?!
As I watched these moments, vivid memories of elementary and middle school came rushing back to life as I was acutely reminded of all the mean things I said/did to other girls and the mean things that were said/done to me. As adults we may all try to dismiss these things as silly girl drama but as the wise Maya Angelou said “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. We can try to laugh about grade school drama now but anyone who has a conscience and isn’t in denial and isn’t a sociopath will remember the sometimes awful way we treated each other and feel some sense of guilt and shame.
I remember being very close with a friend at one point in middle school/high school, going to slumber parties at each other’s houses and even joining each other on family outings. And then for no good reason or reasons that were inexplicable to me, we stopped talking and ignored each other when we saw each other. At one point we worked in stores right across from each other, clearly seeing each other regularly yet we continued to pretend the other didn’t exist. Ladies do you think men do stuff like this to each other?!
So why pray tell do we behave like this? Is it innate behavior isolated to the xx chromosome? Well perhaps some of it is. But after observing some mommies in action I have the view that we are often the culprits, imparting it onto our daughters.
I always thought when you grow up and become a mom, suddenly it means you have automatically switched on a button of kumbaya mother nature earnest love and all that middle school mean girl behavior melts away. But actually I think all that angst remains tucked away in there somewhere, waiting for opportune moments to be unleashed. I have observed all sorts of high school-like behavior among adult mommy cliques including the art of exclusion, the only difference is how it manifests itself.
When you were a pre-teen/teenager you’d experience classic aggressive behavior such as one girl walking up to another girl and saying mean things directly to her face like “I don’t like you” and then walking off in a huff. Now in adulthood it’s simply transformed to passive aggressive behavior like a group of women suddenly becoming quiet when another woman walks into a room or little looks women give to each other to remind another woman that she’s an outsider to the clique. Or equally passive aggressive comments like “well my little Johnny was not academically challenged at that school but I’m sure it will be fine for your kids” or “nice outfit but aren’t you hot in that?”.
Lest we forget, our kids are watching, listening, and learning all the while. I’m no angel, cattiness sometimes takes over me, sometimes I do it for comic relief, sometimes I do it because I myself am feeling insecure or threatened, or am just too annoyed/tired to remember the Hillary/Michelle campaign slogan of “when they go low, you go high”. And anyway it didn’t even seem to work for poor Hillary. So what’s the answer? It’s education and awareness. Okay fine, I don’t know what the answer is – I just like to write about this stuff!
But next time we are tempted to carry ourselves in a way that’s less than stellar and make snide comments towards other women, perhaps all we need to do is remember what we suffered through and ask ourselves if we really want this to continue in our daughter’s generation. It’s not that hard when you realize that there is no one else your daughter will look up to and emulate more than yourself. That should be motivation enough for you to want to be on your best behavior for life, and in turn see your daughters follow your lead.