Tag Archives: meangirls

The P-word

Most-popular-e1449500390948The song Popular has been running non-stop since I saw today’s prompt . Thanks for the earworm Daily Post!

I started writing about the tree, but realized mid-post that the correct spelling is “poplar”  (scientific name populus) not “popUlar”. According to Wikipedia, populus is “a genus of 25-35 speciies of deciduous flowering plants…(which) include poplar, aspen and cottonwood.”

It’s a good thing it’s a poplar tree and NOT a popUlar tree (although it might be popular with certain dendrologists), because I don’t know anything about trees. I mean, I know that I like the sound of the wind whispering through the trees, that willow switches leave welts* and that I am too old to climb them. After all, as my daughter so kindly reminded me, “Old people fall a lot” and I’d rather not fall out of a tree.

I considered writing a review of the TV series “Popular“, but, seeing that the show ended in 2001 and I never watched it (evidently I was not part of it’s demographic, as it never hit my radar as “must see tv”) I decided against it. I turned to Miriam-Webster for help.

Popular

[pop-yuh’ler]

  1. of or relating to the general public
  2. frequently encountered or widely acceptd
  3. commonly liked or approved

Ah. Popular. My earworm has turned the volume up to 10. For those of you not familiar with Wicked (where have you been?) Glinda tells Elphaba (and the audience) that “It’s all about popular! It’s not about aptitude. It’s the way you’re viewed. So it’s very shrewd to be popular.”

We all want to be popular (or at least to fit in). Can anyone forget Sally Fields’ shriek of delight that “You like me! You really, really like me!” when she gave her acceptance speech?

I had a great group of friends in high school – a dozen or so jocks, nerds and thespians with whom I’ve remained friends to this day. I have no doubt that some of them secretly (several of them not so secretly) longed to be part of the Popular Crowd. Every school has them – the group of girls who are stylishly dressed, with perfectly applied makeup and neatly combed hair. The girls that are mocked and tormented in movies like Mean Girls and Heathers (Is it just me, or did you get the feeling that these moves were penned by someone who was snubbed by the popular clique?)

meangirls

When the teen started high school, I hoped that she would succeed where I’d failed – that her weekends would be a whirlwind of slumber parties and dances, football games and romances – and maybe, just maybe, an invitation to Homecoming or Prom. Instead, my daughter has a great BFF, and a handful of super close thespian friends. She belongs to several high school clubs, and knows kids from every “clique”.

OMG. My daughter has become me. I suppose that means it’s time for me to become my mother – a woman who never knew how popular she was in high school

The problem, IMHO, is that popularity is a matter of perspective (the most popular chess champion is unknown to the football team) and that fame is fleeting. Some people try to rely on popularity to get through life, never realizing that there are more important things than learning (as Glinda tells us) “The proper poise when you talk to boys, little ways to flirt and flounce…what shoes to wear (and) how to fix your hair.” These, then, are the people who spend their lives in the past, reliving their glory days.

I hope my daughter listens to my favorite bit of advice:

Whatever you do, be true to you.

Which is really just reinterpretation of Shakespeare:

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* Please note – No need to call CPS I was not “switched” by my parents as a child. My friends and I used to whip each other when we were pretending to be horses

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Bullying and the F Word

th[1]When The Girl was in 8th grade, she was targeted by Mean Girls. She was lucky. Not because she was bullied. There is nothing lucky about it*. According to nobullying.com/causes-of-suicide/ “Teenage bullying is one of the leading causes of teenage suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in young children.” My daughter was lucky because she was targeted by a handful of Former Friends, and the bullying consisted of them telling her “We’ve never been your friend” and running away when she approached. While the loss of a BFF can be devastating (at any age) it does not compare with the stories that make the rounds via social media or breaking news.

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Image courtesy of keyword-suggestions.com

I had no idea. I mean, I knew something was wrong – my usually cheerful, gregarious tween became curiously quiet – but, when pressed, she would only say that she was “tired”. Her mysterious fatigue (which we blamed on a growth spurt and hormones) only lasted a week. It wasn’t until one of the other mothers greeted me with “I’m so sorry that Lauren’s having problems in school” and suggested I pick up Queen Bees and Wannabes that I knew there had been a Serious Problem. When I confronted discussed the situation with her that night, she shrugged “It’s no big deal. I’m not going to be friends with them in high school, so why should I care if we’re not friends now?”

“But why didn’t you tell me? I’m your mom! You’re supposed to come to me when you have problems.”

She gave a slow “no comment” blink.

“Because I would have gone to school to kick a** and chew bubble gum….”

She smiled. “…and you are all out of bubblegum.”

Seeing that 8th grade is far behind us, you might be wondering why I’m bringing this up now. Contrary to what the EIC says, it’s NOT because I’ve been unable to come up with a topic for a post for days weeks months. My daughter went to camp last week.

I know what you’re thinking (I do! I’m psychic! No, wait – I’m psychotic. I always get those confused) What does camp have to do with bullying? Did she go to a special anti-bullying camp? No. I don’t know if they have anti-bullying camps, but if they do, they should include karate or self-defense classes (please note, WE DON’T HIT!) Was she bullied at camp? No. Did she flip to the dark side and bully kids at camp? Also no. Did she have horrible flashbacks and wake up screaming in the middle of the night? Not that I’m aware of, although when she was little she did have night terrors. Did she run through camp wearing a plastic mask and screaming “Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake – run, bullies run!” While that would have been really, really funny, again, the answer is no.

According to the youth leaders, my daughter epitomized this year’s lesson on forgiveness. She stood up in front of hundreds of young men and women and spoke about the different types of bullying, and the importance of forgiveness. She warned the campers that “If you don’t forgive fully, memories and emotions will pop up when you least expect it.” She told them that she had reached out to the girls who had bullied her to tell them she forgave them and shared their responses.

“I told them ‘I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, but I want to let you know that I forgive you for what you did to me.’” The Meanest girl (the one who wanted to replace Lauren as BFF to the Queen Bee) responded with “You have nothing to apologize for. We are the ones who owe you an apology.” A second girl responded with a lengthy text message, thanking her for reaching out because “I have always felt guilty about what happened, but never knew how to approach you/how to bring this up. I knew it was wrong, but, as an incredibly insecure tween, I didn’t have the strength to stand up to the others to stop it.” Not all the girls have grown up. A third girl responded with “I think you have the wrong number.” Which would be possible except for the fact that my daughter had JUST gotten her phone number from another friend.

I am so proud of my daughter. I think it’s amazing that she was mature enough to handle the situation on her own (although I’m still butthurt she didn’t come to me). I am in awe of the fact that she was willing to share her story with hundreds of strangers, and I think it’s incredible that she was willing to reach out to her bullies to tell them she forgave them. I’m also proud of the girls who showed remorse for their actions. The F-word has allowed all of them to heal.

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image courtesy of discovryproject.wordpress.com

Mostly, I’m impressed that my daughter has a heart that’s willing to forgive, because she comes from a long line of stubborn strong-willed women who hold a grudge. I’ve spoken before about the importance of forgiveness, but the lesson isn’t sticking. Evidently I have a lot to learn, because I still want to punch the little B’s** in the neck.

*The statistic (courtesy of bullyingstatistics.com) on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths/year according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it
  • Bully victims are between 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  •  A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides amount young people are related to bullying.
  • 10-14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 1600,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

If you are a victim of or witness to bullying, you can report it here.

If you or a friend are fighting thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call. Someone is always willing to listen.

**Bullies! That’s the B word I meant – could I have meant anything else? 😉

And, lastly, a song that never fails to make me cry