Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pouring My Heart Out....Mean Girls

Mean girls.  That's what we're dealing with over here.

If there is a positive side to this, it is that Bella doesn't realize that these girls are "mean" as of yet.  She can still see the good in people, no matter what they do.

But I see it as crystal clear as any other adult who has had her fair share of dealings with mean girls.

Tonight, as I was rubbing Bella's back as she fell asleep, she whispered, "Mommy, Macie said I can't talk to her at lunch anymore because we're not in the same class this year".

She continued, "She said I can sit next to her but I can't talk to her."

I asked, "What did you say?"

"I didn't talk to her.  I just ate my lunch," she explained.

"Bella", I began.  "No one can tell you what you should or shouldn't do.  There is no rule saying you can't talk to someone who isn't in your class.  In fact, lunch time is the ONE time the entire 2nd grade is together so lunch is a great time to catch up with those friends who aren't in your class."

Before responding, she seemed to take in what I had just said to her.

"But she said we can't talk anymore," Bella argued with me.

"Listen, you can still be friends with someone who is not in your class.  Friendships are not dictated by rules like that.  A true friend is your friend through thick and thin, whether you sit next to each other in class or you're separated by 3000 miles.  Why would you want to be friends with someone who's continually changing the rules on you and treating you so badly?" I said.

"Your worth more than that, aren't you?" I asked her, as tears stung my eyes.

She sat up and held my hand gently.

"Mommy, you know Cameron?  She doesn't have any friends.  There's this small group of girls who hang out because they sing together and they don't like her," she stated.

Upon hearing this, my heart broke for Cameron because, while I don't know her very well, she seems like such a sweet girl.

"Well," I said.  "Maybe you should ask Cameron if you can sit with her at lunch tomorrow.  It sounds like she could use a good friend, don't you think?"

She answered, "Yeah, she probably does need a friend.  But I don't understand why the group doesn't like her.  We're all in the same grade.  It doesn't make any sense."

I sighed in frustration and sadness, knowing that this 2nd grade school year is just the beginning of her encounter with mean girls.

"Bella, you're going to find in life that some people have good hearts and they will accept you no matter what.  Those are the people you want to be friends with.  Those are the friends who will be loyal to the end."

I continued, "However, the people with mean hearts, the ones who put strict terms on friendship and hang out in small groups who exclude others for no good reason...well, those are the people who are not worth your time or attention.  Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Bella nodded her head, "Yes, I think so.  I just wish friendships weren't so hard sometimes."

"Me, too, too," I agreed.

Did I say the right thing?  Will she remember my words the next time she has a run in with a mean girl?   How do I stop myself from driving over to the school and kicking those little girls' asses all over the playground?

I certainly don't have all the answers and I feel like every word out of my mouth must be chosen cautiously.

Have you had to have a similar conversation with your children about how to deal with mean kids?  I'd love to hear how you handled the situation. Registered & Protected


Mighty M said...

I haven't had to have a conversation like that yet but when I do I hope I can handle it as beautifully and tactfully as you did. Nice job mom.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

Oh my girl!
Yes, I have had this conversation with my daughter.
And no, I don't know if my words will carry her through her next mean girl encounter.
I just know the more we talk about it, the more it is out in the open, and I think that is a good thing.:)Especially since it seems that some mean girls grow up to be mean moms and mean women.
Incidentally, have you read the book Queen Bees and Wannabees? Great read for moms (and dads) of girls to help with the mean girls out there.
Hang in there!

SMS said...

agreed. we haven't dealt with this yet since the girls aren't in school yet.. but when we do I am going to be looking back at your blog for this post. hugs.

Kmama said...

I think you handled that really well!! I probably would have broke down into tears and threatened to call some moms. Ugh.

Brooke said...

so sad that kids have to deal with those kinds of things at such a young age. my niece has experienced something similar (she's the same age as Bella) and it breaks my heart.

i think you handled the situation beautifully - I hope she finds a great new friend in Cameron.

Merri Ann said...

I think you did great. I never had my mother or my stepmother help me try to deal with these mean girls ... maybe our generation can teach our daughters how to only connect with the kind ones.

My daughter starts her first year in elementary school today ... she is sure to be the one who gets slammed. She doesn't have an unkind bone in her body and doesn't understand shy anyone would be mean.

However .... she certainly is able to stand up to her brother and sister just fine ... if only I can channel that away from her siblings and toward mean girls she would do just fine ...

Great post !!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Helene, you handled this beautifully! We can all take lessons.

I DREAD when this kind of thing happens because my instinct is to just rush in and fix, and I know it won't really.

Hopefully Bella will be able to be good friends with Cameron.

Eva Gallant said...

Well done, Mom! Since I had boys, this wasn't a problem. I think boys are less mean than girls.

Barbara said...

I think you handled it great! I hope I don't have to have this conversation for a while. My heart was breaking because I was Cameron in 2nd grade. I moved schools and no one would talk to me - and I still remember going home and crying every day. You are raising an amazing girl and you should be proud.

Heather said...

You handled that so well! It's so frustrating that it starts at such a young age :( It DOES make you want to kick some mean little girl butt!

Cindy said...

Helene, you handled that beautifully. You said all of the right things and it will stick with Bella. It will probably take a few more similar conversations, but it will stick with her and she'll really get it.

I have a daughter in 2nd grade, too, and we have come across the mean girls since daycare when she was 3 and had a 'frenemy'. Gosh I wanted to bust that little girl up!

In Kindergarten my daughter was a bit outcast with the girls in her class because of a little boy that "loved" her and she "loved" (yup - that's a whole other post as to how it starts that young). Anyway the girls were snitty because they all were crushing on the same boy and he was crushing on my daughter.

In 1st grade there was the usual "girls-only" club that my daughter refused to be part of because the girls were being really mean to the boys. That didn't go over too well either. Then we moved at the end of the year to a new district. With 5 weeks left of the school year she entered a new class and made lots of friends right away - she's very social. Anyway there was a kid in her class who the other kids call "weird". He's very sensitive and a bit effeminate and he was teased because of it. My daughter, the new girl in school, couldn't understand why they would be mean to him because he is so nice. She stuck up for him continually, told the other kids it wasn't nice to call him weird. The other kids responded by getting snitty with my girl. They still liked her but it got a little tense for a bit. This year, as 2nd graders, the kids are a bit nicer to the boy. I asked by DH about it and she told me she is still going to be his friend. I told her that he really needs a good friend like her, one that will like him for him and not just follow the crowd. She is really getting it, but again, it's been 4 years of learning the lessons.

Hang in there, keep repeating the words you said and Bella will be okay and grow into a really confident and self-assured woman.

Nobodys Nothings said...

oh yes, my son was in a different school every year he was in school until 2nd grade. his second grade year was particularly difficult. he didn't make any friends and he had to deal with a lot of trouble makers and bullies in his class. the part that i hated the most, was that now that we've bought our home, he's in the same school for 3rd grade as he was for 2nd, and it's the one school he hated. luckily, 3rd grade is going MUCH better than 2nd. there are a few new students in his classroom that he told me he's going to make friends with because "he know exactly how they feel". :) he even has a friend he calls on the phone after school. i am very relieved that this year seems to be going better.... 2nd grade's a tough one.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I know exactly what Bella is going through. Unfortunately, this generation of kids are more resilient and don't have the conviction to feel guilty when they are being mean. Its soft-hearted little ones like Bella who will find lasting friendships with girls and boys who see the value of having a friend. You told her right. I'm sure your words to her will last a lifetime.

Brooke said...

I think you said just the right thing. Very wonderful post. Thank you.

Evonne said...

I think you handled it perfectly. I'm sure the message will stick with Bella. Continuing to talk about it will only help.

I hope she finds a friend in Cameron. Perhaps one day down the road, Cameron can look back and say "Wow! Bella talking to me when no one else would really made a difference".

Tara R. said...

It is so sad that kids as young as second grade are already forming Mean Girl cliques. Sounds like you did a great job explaining real friendships, I hope Bella does start a friendship with Cameron, and that they are friends for many, many years.

(visiting from PYHO)

PaganMomBlog said...

You did great! My daughters haven't experienced mean girls until 4th & 5th grade. My eldest, whom is probably the nicest & least likely to harm a person in her entire school, is now in middle school. She comes home regularly appalled by the things she hears and sees in school. However, she tends to teach me more lessons in compassion because I think I would go and kick some ass! The key thing, I think, is to keep that communication open. As long as the girls know they can come to you to learn to think things through and that they can trust you just to listen once in awhile.....the girls will do far better than we can ever imagine.

NotSoSilentMommy said...

WOW!! What a great post.
I think it's great that your daughter felt comfortable talking to you about this.
I love the my daughter can't see a "mean girl" yet as well.
I'm so afraid for her when she realizes how mean kids can be though.
You handled this is such a great way.
I know a few mommies that you could give that very same talk to. lol... Some girls are just "mean girls" for life..
Their mommies definitely didn't give them this talk.
I'm sure your daughter will remember your little talk forever..

nantuckettiechic said...

As a total geek who never ate in the cafeteria if I could help it, I can relate to lunchroom terrors. What helped me was knowing the mean girls were the sad ones. they were too weak to stand by themselves and be happy. But second graders whoa! Let's not be labelling the little darlings so soon. Often kids are just trying out different things to see what happens. When Macie sees her rule leaves her without her friend to sit with, she might decide it 's not a good rule. Ya never know.

Jessica said...

Oh I so love this post!!

The gentle way you reminded your daughter that being nice is the way to go is so nice to hear.

I think mean girls are a part of growing up and while its hard to deal with, I definitely think she will remember your words. What a great mama you are!!

Tarah said...

I think you said just the right thing to your daughter. A friendship without restrictions is the best type of friendship to have.

Kristin @ What She Said said...

My daughter is only 21 months old, so I haven't had a conversation like that with her. Yet. But I know I will someday and it breaks my heart. For now, though, I just enjoy watching her trot confidently over to her little table of friends when I drop her off at daycare, and the way they accept her with smiles (at best) or adorable indifference (at worst).

And FWIW, I think you said exactly the right thing. And if she doesn't remember it next time, just say it again.

Natalie said...

What a sweet girl you have! I think you gave her perfect advice. I hope she asks Cameron to come sit with her!

Kim said...

I think your attitude and advice are spot on.

What's been challenging for me is to not overreact--I get so upset about mean girl drama, and want to sponsor a weekend retreat to deal with their feelings, when it turns out that the girls themselves (including my own daughter) don't really think it's a big deal. One day they're mad at someone, the next day they're best friends. I'm a nervous wreck, and the girls are just fine.

Yet, as moms, we have to be diligent to keep our daughters from forming cliques or, God forbid, becoming bullies/being victimized by bullies.

Jen said...

You know its not just girls that are mean, its boys too. Boys are just physically mean.

I had long talks with Hayden about how its never right for someone to hit you and make you do things that you don't want to do. I had to tell him it was ok to fight back even though he is not a physical person.

This of course did back fire on me when he started hitting his siblings. So we'll say its a work in progress.

Raising kids before school is the easy part. Add in school and a whole new can of worms is opened up.

Missy said...

My heart is breaking. Gad - we've all been there, haven't we? I dare say it's MUCH more painful on the parent side though because we can read the situation and see the possibilities coming.

I love your response - you may have to say it nightly for the next 10 years, but it's ok. Because it's so important for her to know you're there for her.

And we call them bad hearts here. See? Separated at birth.

Samantha said...

I'd have a hard time NOT kicking some little kid booty. I decided one day last Summer that I was not above that, when there were some mean girls being mean to my Breezy for no reason. I probably didn't give Bree the best advice, but I want her to know that she can stand up for herself...she doesn't just have to take it. Like if that girl had told Bree that they couldn't talk anymore, I would've come up with something smart for Bree to say back. I had a girl tell me that once when I was in Middle school, that we couldn't talk because I wasn't popular. I just looked at her and said, "I don't really care if you talk to me or not. Seriously, you don't matter that much to me." She didn't say another word to me for the rest of the year.

But it is tough, because girls are so mean...and I'm not looking forward to the day that Bree gets her first heart break because of a 'friend' being mean to her.

angela said...

Abbey is three, and I dread this conversation, because she has a very sensitive heart, and I worry about it all the time.

I think you did an amazing job with the conversation! I think one of the ways to combat this behavior is to keep talking about it, keep the dialogue open so that the "nice" girls understand the mean behavior isn't about them. When it's hidden and they feel ashamed, that's what gives the mean kids power :(

Jenny said...

You did a great job with the conversation. We haven't had this problem yet, since we homeschool. However, it's only a matter of time. It seems like there's always at least one mean one in any bunch.

SherilinR said...

my daughter's 9 & she's a little tenderoni at heart. we've been having conversations like this for about 5 years now since she became friends with a mean girl in the making. it's crazy how early it starts & how much it hurts. just keep saying the same things & eventually they'll stick. you've got it just right, i think.

Shell said...

You did such a good job with this. I hate that it starts so young.

I had to have a talk with my oldest last year when he said that it was him and two other boys who played a game every day at recess but that there was another boy who wanted to but the other boys didn't let him.

I had to tell him that they were wrong and that the other boy could play.

And then I had an awful moment where I worried about my son being outcast for standing up for the other kid. Yes, I'm admitting that awful mom fail.

Rhiannon said...

oh my, i give you credit. i dont know what im gonna do when its time to have that kind of talk. i was the kid without the friends growing up so i know how that feels... bella has a great heart and is very smart,
she'll be fine

Emmy said...

Okay this made me want to many memories. I think you handled it wonderfully, too bad there aren't a few more moms telling their daughters the same thing.

blueviolet said...

I am so shocked that this is happening in 2nd grade. I thought this was middle school and up stuff, and it makes me terribly sad to think it's beginning so early in life.

I just don't understand at all why kids need to start these exclusions. It hurts my heart.

Amanda's Mom said...

Ah, it just hurts my heart that girls/women are so mean to each other. Have we learned nothing? I think you said exactly the right things. You have a good heart, your daughter will have a good heart. My daughter and I never really understood those 'made up' rules either but, I always told her, "If, at the end of the day, you can count your true friends on one hand, then your will have enough." She is an adult now and has learned so much that in her dealings as a cheer coach (of all things) she was very much about team building and making girls think about how they treated others and how they wanted to be treated. Keep up the good work ... girls are just harder that way than boys.

KSK said...

Wow. That's rough!!! I think you said the right thing... 2nd grade. sheesh!

Heather said...


I deal with it everyday. I have an 11 year old girl and a 5 year old girl. My oldest daughter was just in tears in the car on the way home from cheer practice because of a mean girl.

It is exhausting and never ending, but I agree with lots of the others keep on talking about it - keep it out in the open.

Hang in there.

Katie said...

Hi, I found this post through Pour Your Heart Out. I just wanted to say I think you said the perfect thing. This post breaks my heart, I see how bullying affects my high school students, and I know how it affects me, and I hate that second grade girls are already dealing with this. I hope Bella asks Cameron to sit by her at lunch, and the mean girls grow up before they become mean adults!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Ugh, mean girls suck. I don't have any magical advice...just keep doing what you're doing.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

I've had a lot of little girl ass that I've wanted to kick...sadly, as a middle school teacher, I can tell you that it only gets worse. It's the same general crap (you can't sit with me, I have a new best friend, I'm not talking to you), but it gets meaner and the girls are less likely share. The bullying and mean-spiritedness is hidden better which hinders adults trying to help. I'm so sorry for Bella...and Cameron...and all of those other girls.

All I can say is that I hope Hailey is the recipient and not the girl doling out these "punishments." I'd rather have the girl who can learn from these incidents than the one who is in charge of the madness.

Kimberly said...

I applaud you for what you said...I hope that she remembers that today and every other day.
I hope with all my heart that she reaches out to cameran.

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McVal said...

Oh! I have SO been there with my girls! Boys are easy in that respect. They punch each other in the shoulder and all is forgiven.
But girls... 4th & 5th grade is the worst for cliques. That's when if a girl is "popular" then you will probably lose that friend to the "popular" crowd. But just to reassure you. My 16 yo is in high school now and the cliques that plagued her have melted away. She's friends with most of the girls that alienated her in the lower grades and involved in everything.
Your daughter has a very good and sweet heart and I hope she and Cameron become bffs!

Kakunaa said...

Now I am all weepy. I remember this all too well. 2nd grade was my last socially easy year. I was Cameron. You are doing fantastically, I promise.

Sela Toki said...

You handled that great Helene. I'd say it in fewer words with a lot of exclamation marks. LOL. (Not swearing of course). If they don't want to be friends, they don't know what they're missing. If they are rude, just ignore them. But if they dare to get physical, there's no such thing as backing down. That's just how we do it the island way. As always love your posts and thanks for sharing.

Sela Toki said...

You handled that great Helene. I'd say it in fewer words with a lot of exclamation marks. LOL. (Not swearing of course). If they don't want to be friends, they don't know what they're missing. If they are rude, just ignore them. But if they dare to get physical, there's no such thing as backing down. That's just how we do it the island way. As always love your posts and thanks for sharing.

Maria said...

What you did is perfect...I suffered some bullying from guys at my school. And I remember I stopped telling things to my mom...I felt "embarassed". So, maybe is all about helping building up the self-confidence. And I know our beautiful Bella has no problems in that field (I remember when you said she could walk in a swimming pool in high heels! she is so cute). I think she´ll do fine, she has a good heart and is a strong young lady. And shame on that girls...they don´t have the slightest idea what they´re missing.

Jenna said...

what a wonderful post to link up to PYHO with! I loved getting to hear your conversation with Bella and the insight you both have to the situation. I think you did a great job. My oldest gets bullied, but not by a group. She takes after he mama... but at least she is assertive and her friends help protect her. Im glad youve encouraged Bella to befriend her.

Working Mommy said...

What a difficult time for your little one!! I think you handled the situation very well - and honestly, I don't think it could have been handled any better. You explained to her what was going on with those other girls and treated her like an adult. I think she will definitely keep your words with her and will think about that the next time she is at school.


Tiffany said...

I'm trying not to be in tears and not wanting to kick those girls' @sses myself. You handled it beautifully.

We're kind of still in the preschool stage where one kid hits the other kind of thing. Although this kid hit Prayse 4 times, so she hit him back and got in trouble. So she made sure to tell the teacher that "That's what my Mom told me to do! I only hit him back ONE TIME!" 'Tis true. (I'm sure her teachers now love me...) I kind of wish we could all handle things that way sometimes. B/c then it's over.

Karen Peterson said...

I definitely dealt with mean girls, but not until 4th grade. And, like Bella, I didn't understand what was happening for a really long time. Eventually, I found one good friend that stuck with me. Until she moved away. We lost touch. But we just reconnected on Facebook and I am SO happy to have her back!

Twins Squared said...

I haven't encountered this too much yet. One time at a park there were some mean girls that we didn't even know so it wasn't a big deal. But at school I don't see it getting too clicky yet. Mackenzie's closest friend last year was kind of wishy-washy with her sometimes but that was about as far as it went. It would upset Mackenzie but then Mackenzie still wanted to be her friend so badly. I just explained to her that kids her age still only think about themselves sometimes and not about other people's feelings. I hope mine aren't the ones acting that way. I know Kaitlyn isn't. She's very sensitive to other people's feelings. Mackenzie not so sure. She's very insensitive to her sister so I don't know what that means at school. But my impression is that both of mainly like other kids as long as they are not bad kids who get in trouble a lot. So I guess that is good. Also, we live in a REALLY diverse area. Sometimes it is odd because culturally it feels like we are not in America at times. But at the same time I think we do not have all this white keep-up with the Joneses stuff (and mean girls and clickiness) that we would have if we moved to a different area. You know, that is kind of an American culture things. We have so many where we live that are from India and Asia and they just some a little more genuine than all that we would put up with a mostly white neighborhood. Anyway, interesting thoughts. I wonder how it will change as they get older. Sorry that Bella is going through that. I hate mean girls. Was never one of them and of course there were plenty of them. Hope she makes friends with one of the nice girls. And how great that she sees the good in people.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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