Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mean Girls

Second grade girls can be pretty mean. What they call Grade Recess over at OSFO's elementary school might just as well be called "Lord of the Flies."

Is it diabolical or just developmental?

OSFO has been coming home with stories that would make your skin curl. And she's no innocent victim. But Smartomom worries that she is being manipulated into mean girl behavior by alpha girls that don't seem to know better.

OSFO seems a bit confused by it all. "She makes me be mean to people I actually like," says OSFO about another girl who seems to be the center of the action. "I really hate her but I also want to play with her..." OSFO adds, obviously confused by the attraction and repulsion she feels toward the mean girl. It's a double bind.

Smartmom is struggling to figure out what to do. She's talked to her teacher - who says that she's going to have a discussion about it in class. And she's talked to other parents who have girls in the second grade. One mother, who has an older girl as well, has been through it before and says that you have to do a lot of work at home to counteract what going on. You can't necessarily change the world of the playground but you can instill moral and ethical thinking in your child.

One or two moms have tried to speak to the mother of the most alpha girl of all but the mother apparently doesn't want to get involved. Apparently she got quite exasperated and said, "Leave me out of this," she told one mom. "Let them figure it out for themselves."

While that is often Smartmom's attitude about more benign childhood squabbles, this seems to be a problem of a different magnitude. What goes on in that playground is settting the groundwork for emotional issues that could last a lifetime.

This is Smartmom's first exposure to the world of mean girls. Teen Spirit never had problems like this at the playground. He had other problems but nothing quite this scary (though he might disagree). Smartmom better read the books, see the movie, do a little homework. Time for a little consciousness raising for mom and daughter. You can't start too early, she says. Can't start too soon.


At 9:06 AM, Blogger elswhere said...

And I just read a post on another blog about how kids seem to be getting nicer to each other... not always, I guess. My sympathies, and I'll be reading to see how it goes, getting ready for our the Lord of the Elementary-School Flies replay that will surely be coming our way within the next few years.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Little Light said...

Unfortunately, some things never change. The meanest person in the office is usually a woman.

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Udge said...

There were kids like that in my day too, and probably twenty thousand years ago as well. I think it's a "given" of human nature that we crave attention, and will settle for any kind we can get rather than doing without.

I believe it was Erich Fromm who coined the name "Let's you and him fight" for this scenario.

Not that I'm an expert, but: as with rumrunning during prohibition, the answer is in the profit. Alphagirl wins by making others do her bidding, and each win reinforces for her that this is the correct (profitable) way to deal with other people. She also clearly sees that being nice is not profitable, when the nice girl is "cut" at her behest.

If OSFO and others were collectively to tell Alpha "I'm not going to play with you because you aren't nice to my friends", she'd probably figure it out pretty quickly.

On another topic: I haven't pressed this because you've been busy with birthdays and marathons and such, but now you're tagged.


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