Mean Girls, Cliques, and the Beauty of having a Child who Doesn’t Really Get it…

I HATE mean girls. Unfortunately, I can recall at least a few times in my youth when I think I acted like one. Not because I truly was a mean girl, but because I wanted to fit in with those girls and be accepted. Gah, what was I thinking? If I only I could go back and have a re-do. I think having a daughter is a way to show us women the errors of our younger days and make us question everything we did growing up. It’s like a constant flashback into our past.

My 11-year-old daughter, E, is sweet and usually just wants to fit in. Basically me as I was at 11 years old, except she has Celiac Disease, Alopecia and some intellectual disabilities added in. Mean girls just gravitate towards her like a heat-seeking missile. But mean girls have gotten smarter since my day – now they are not quite so obvious. They’re little master manipulators who, when you speak about them to teachers and parents, the adults think and say, “she’s so sweet and such a good behaving girl.” Right – she’s the one spreading rumors about other girls and dropping F-bombs at recess. And I won’t even touch on how these “sweet/mean girls” treat kids like mine who don’t go to the same church on Sunday. Sometimes being left out of everything at that age can be just as bad as if these girls were just outright nasty. It’s madness and it’s heartbreaking from a parent’s perspective.

But I guess I’m kind of lucky: my sweet, quirky, awesome daughter lives in her own world and is basically oblivious to much of the meanness. It’s me who is bothered the most by it. She has “friends” who don’t invite her over to play, who only come over to ask her to play as a last resort, and who never ask her to do anything. And E typically doesn’t think twice about it. Only yesterday did she FINALLY tell a mean girl in our neighborhood, “no” when she came and asked her to play, after she asked a neighbor kid right in front of E. But the satisfaction I felt was short-lived when I realized that E’s feelings were actually a little hurt.

So now the challenge is trying to raise E to have confidence and at the same time not be arrogant, to have empathy for others and yet not get taken advantage of, and to take the time to listen to others and not lose herself in the process. Most of all, I just want her to be “nice.”  I’m not trying to change the world or anything, but if more of us parents could strive to raise our children this way, maybe at least a few good human beings would come out of it.

-J

Why Can’t My Kids Just Get Along???

So there I was, in a hospital bed, holding my brand-new baby girl, when hubbs brought our then 3-year-old son (N) in to meet his sister.  N walked right over to us and said, “where’s my sister” and was less than impressed when he realized that his baby sister (E) really was a baby and wouldn’t be up running around with him anytime soon.  I think that moment has pretty much defined the rest of their relationship…

They are now 13 and 10 and just cannot stop bickering. They don’t physically fight thank God, because E can hold her own and would probably beat the crap out of N, no matter how big he is getting. Spending time with either of them individually is great – they typically act the way they have been raised to behave. But put those two together and it’s like like Rocky and Apollo Creed, like Donald and Hillary, like Tupac and Biggie – it’s maddening. And I don’t know how to fix it.

  • I’ve tried spending more one-on-one time with each of them and having their dad do the same.
  • I try to make consequences for their actions as fair as can be (I try to keep my end goal – raise them to be good, well-rounded adults, as well as my more immediate goal – try not to breed resentment against their sibling in mind).
  • I reward N for his good grades, helping around the house, etc. (he is more on track and cleans up after himself), but I refrain from comparing them to each other.
  • I remind N (in private) that E has some diagnosed difficulties and although she can be challenging to be around sometimes, it shows what a great person he is when he accepts that and treats her right.
  • I remind E all the time about all the things that make her wonderful and why I am so lucky to be her mom. I truly do try to tell her these things all the time but especially when I can see her getting frustrated.
  • And I ALWAYS tell them when they are mad at me “I love you, even when I’m mad or you are mad at me,” because you just never know what the next moment is going to bring.

Here is an actual example of bickering from last night, while the three of us were playing Skipbo. There were 4 piles of cards lying in front of us, 3 of them had 8’s showing –

N: Wow, there’s triple 8’s

Me: Yep

E: Double 8’s

N: Triple

E: I call it double

N: It’s triple, E! Mom, tell E its triple!

Me: Does it really matter? Somebody put down a 9

E: Double 8’s

N: (throws down cards) I’m not playing anymore if E’s going to mess around

Me: (looking at N) You are not quitting. Yes it is triple. E, it is triple, you know it’s triple and are just trying to annoy your brother. Knock it off.

E: Why can’t I call it double?

And then it was my turn and I had two 9’s so we no longer had a triple (thank God). But that is just a small taste of the constant, unnecessary bickering.

Will these kids ever grow out of it or am I destined to have two bickering adult-children?

-j.