Mean Girls Suck

Posted by on June 29, 2009
Mean girls suck, too...

Mean girls suck, too...

Every summer my daughter goes to day camp. She absolutely loves it and looks forward to it all year long.

This year, the camp has started having theme days which are kind of like spirit days at school. Recently, the theme was superheroes and princesses and N was pretty psyched about it.

As princess and superhero day approached, however, I began to have doubts about the merits of this particular theme. For one thing, my daughter is going in to third grade—most of her old princess dress-up clothes don’t even fit anymore.

I pointed out to her that most princess dress-up clothes are made for younger kids and a lot of girls probably won’t participate because they’ve outgrown their princess dresses. I even went so far as to suggest she dress as a superhero instead,

“We could make a really cool costume out of stuff we already have!”

I was met with a look that fell somewhere between abject horror and unwavering determination to tune out her obviously insane mother.

It became clear that my daughter fully intended to ignore me and my sensible advice so I backed off.

The next day, she came skipping out of her room with a frilly light green Tinkerbell princess dress (yes, I know Tinkerbell isn’t a princess but Disney apparently does not). While she looked adorable in her almost too small dress, a bad feeling settled in the pit of my stomach as I hugged and kissed her goodbye.

N is a sweet, sociable, happy-go-lucky girl who gets along with pretty much everyone but when she came home from camp that day, she didn’t seem like herself. She was lying on the couch watching TV, looking pretty sad and dejected.

I sat down and asked her if everything was alright.

After some gentle prodding, she told me that she was the ONLY girl in her group (besides her counselor) to dress up and that when she arrived, the other girls pointed and laughed at her.

One perpetually mean girl looked at her and sneered  loudly “Isn’t Tinkerbell for babies?”

“And what did you say?”

She replied softly “I said no”

I wanted to annihilate those girls for hurting my baby, for crushing her spirit like that without a second thought.

I proceeded to do try and undo some of the damage.

“Tinkerbell is NOT for babies. You know that, right? They make clothes for grown women with Tinkerbell on them. Not Cinderella, not Sleeping Beauty. TINKERBELL.”

“And you are NOT a baby. You’re actually older than a lot of those girls.”

The thing is, my daughter may be several months older but she is very innocent and unjaded and perhaps a bit sheltered.

Unlike a lot of girls her age, she still likes fairies and princesses and mermaids…exactly the way an eight year old girl should be, IMHO.

Don’t get me wrong—she’s NOT the victim of a plot to keep her artificially immature or anything. She’s just been exposed to different things and really,  in some ways, she’s more sophisticated than her peers—she’s able to talk to adults about a wide range of topics and she has an understanding of the world that a lot of kids her age don’t possess. While they’re obsessing over Hannah Montana and High School Musical, she’s watching British science fiction (The Sarah Jane Adventures) and NOVA and Dinosapiens, reading chapter books at a 5th grade level and pursuing her numerous artistic interests.

But at heart, she’s still very much a little girl and I love that about her.

That night, I told my husband what she told me, how much it hurt me to see her like that. We both voiced the same sad thoughts…

She’ll probably never fully put herself out there like that again. Sad.

Something that she loved to do will always be tarnished by the memory of this day.

A little piece of childhood innocence was lost today…

The next day she told me that the mean girl who said “Isn’t Tinkerbell for babies?” plays Elmo games on Sesamestreet.com in the computer lab.

Pot? Meet Kettle.

I told her to call the girl out publicly for playing Elmo games.

I know on some level that was bad. I know two wrongs don’t make a right. I know turn the other cheek blah, blah, blah…

But this girl is always so mean and until she gets put in her place, she’s not going to stop. I know this from experience—and really, it’s BASIC human nature.

For the record, I’ve never been mean to anyone unprovoked. It’s not who I am. But if you mess with me past a certain point, you’ll get it back in kind.

That said, if I have to choose between some 8 year old mean girl and my daughter,  I’m choosing my daughter—I won’t fight her battles but I WILL teach her to stand up for herself.

And I make NO apologies…

I’m sure at least a few of you are DYING to tell me how wrong I am. Just keep it civil, please.


61 Comments

  • Aprylsantics says:

    Well, you know our daughters are VERY much alike, which explains why they get along so well. I’m sad we don’t live in the same place, so our girls could go to camp together. Don’t worry. Some day they will. Just like we did.

    Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. It’s Utopian to believe that telling her to ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘ignore it’, or ‘kill with kindness’ will work. It doesn’t.

    I don’t think you’re wrong and furthermore, I think it’s great you shared your real solution to the problem. Anyone who is anxious to respond to how wrong you are can lump me in with you on the criticism.

  • Nah, you’re not wrong. I’d have told Tacy to tell the girl: “So Tinkerbell is for babies, but Elmo isn’t? That doesn’t make sense at all.”
    .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant’s last blog post…Eat my bubbles! Her bubbles, I mean. =-.

  • Want me to send my boys over to be bodyguards? :)

  • Maria says:

    I’m so not ready for this sort of thing. Ahhh.

    Tell her one of my oldest friends ADORES Tinkerbell and she’s definitely a grownup. (You can leave the Tinkerbell tattoo out.)

    Also my husband liked the Tinkerbell in the Disney on ice quite a bit. But that’s off topic as well.
    .-= Maria’s last blog post…weekly winners – jun 21 – jun 27 =-.

  • Shash says:

    I agree with both you and April. And email me your address. I got something at Disney this past weekend that I think N would enjoy much more than my boys would. :)

    Give N a big hug for me. :)
    .-= Shash’s last blog post…Gone Too Soon =-.

  • Amanda says:

    You can tell her I like Tinkerbell. I have a shirt to prove it. My 8 yr old son is a lot like this too. We homeschool so he is exposed to different things and ideas than most kids around here. I so get where you are coming from.
    .-= Amanda’s last blog post…Dyslexia Too??? =-.

  • Faiqa says:

    Apologies? No way!! I don’t think you’re wrong, at all. There are no badges of honor in this world for people who can endure the most humiliation, and sticking up for yourself is not the same thing as unkindness. We don’t live in an ivory tower world where if we’re nice enough people will just automatically be nice back. Or where everybody is sweet, nice and kind and always compliments you and lifts you up. I wish it were that way, but it’s not.

    I believe that we all have to show ourselves and others that we’re worth being treated right. Good for you for teaching your daughter that lesson very early. And good for you for raising your daughter to trust you with this information in the first place.
    .-= Faiqa’s last blog post…The Way You Made Me Feel =-.

    • IzzyMom says:

      There are no badges of honor in this world for people who can endure the most humiliation, and sticking up for yourself is not the same thing as unkindness

      I think those are words to live by. Thanks :)
      .-= IzzyMom’s last blog post…Mean Girls Suck =-.

  • Miss Britt says:

    Teaching your daughter not to be a doormat is not WRONG.

  • Eden says:

    I would have done the exact same thing.

    And I personally own a Tinkerbell tank top. I might just go put it on in solidarity.
    .-= Eden’s last blog post…The love you save =-.

  • Nah, not wrong. I would have done something similar.

  • Laurin says:

    This is the second place I’ve commented today after Britt. Not stalking her – we just have similar readers, apparently!

    This topic just kills me. When Erin gets crushed by a mean girl I feel like bursting into flames I get so upset. It is so very painful to watch a little spirit get stomped.

    I think your advice is spot on. Some new research shows that perhaps bullying can only be stopped by the victims affirmatively sticking up for themselves verbally with humor or some other distraction. After an article I read last year opened my eyes to how ignoring a bully rarely works, I wrote a post about it and started coaching my kids to have a comeback ready if they get teased for some reason.

    I wish we could just stop raising meanies. But, until then, we’ll just have to give our kids tools that work and preserve their self-esteem.
    .-= Laurin’s last blog post…White Shirt Wednesday Kinda White =-.

  • cagey says:

    Are you frockin’ kidding me? I am totally going to teach my son to punch back when punched. I will damn well teach my daughter to fight back as well.

    Funny. I just wrote about bullying last week and how the worst part of it was feeling ashamed that I was so defenseless. Bah. We always want better for our kids, right?
    .-= cagey’s last blog post…What’s your function? =-.

  • Joanna says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong. She should know it’s alright to stand up for herself. Hopefully this mean girl will get the message and learn to have a little more compassion for others.

    I know lot’s of women who love Tinkerbell and any other Disney princess. I don’t have one that I love in particular, but I’ve always loved playing dress up and I’d do it a lot more if it wasn’t for mean adults like the child your daughter encountered.

    Good for you!
    .-= Joanna’s last blog post…A weekend spent out of doors =-.

  • PunditMom says:

    Please tell her that the daughter of one of my friend’s dressed as Tinkerbell for Halloween when she was 18! Granted, she added a little Goth-iness to it, but still — these girls need a little dose of their own medicine. As PunditGirl enters 4th grade next year, I dread stuff like this. :(

  • Nicole says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong, just can’t believe you said that :) Probably cuz I’m a wuss and wouldn’t have given that advice, just thought it in my head. My husband, though, that’s his area, total protection of our kids.

    Kids are super resilient. I see some of your daughter in my son…he wants to do things I worry will get him teased, and sometimes they do, but he just contemplates it, complains, and moves on, without even considering doing something different the next time. I am amazed and glad he’s got enough dad in him to not worry too much about what people say. It took me about 35 years to learn that.
    .-= Nicole’s last blog post…The Cool Gene is not from their Mom =-.

  • YAY YOU! I would have done the same thing. I’d only have been sorry #1 that I could be there to witness it or #2 that I couldn’t just do it myself.

    So shoot me. But you know you’re chuckling.
    .-= Amy Sue Nathan’s last blog post…Suburban kvetch #1 =-.

  • You’re totally not wrong. Having her stick up for herself is empowering and will give her confidence to deal with difficult situations in the future. :)
    .-= Karen Sugarpants’s last blog post…Compassion =-.

  • My kids are sort of “young for their age” compared to their friends too. It makes me sad that because of that, they do get made fun of sometimes.

    I am not sure what I’d do if I were in your situation, but I don’t think you are wrong for teaching your daughter to stand up for herself. You don’t have to be aggressive (which you aren’t advocating) but you do need to defend yourself when someone is saying something that isn’t kind and also doesn’t make sense to even make fun of if she still likes elmo games. I sometimes (a LOT of times) wish I could just take my family and live on an island where people are nice and good all the time. Sounds like you would fit in well there too!
    .-= radioactive tori’s last blog post…Dogs and School =-.

  • I don’t know. I’m not in favor of meanness, but I think, Mess with me, and I’ll mess with you back.“Turn the other cheek” is ideal, but not always possible. Especially when we’re talking Tinkerbell vs. Elmo.
    .-= Baby in Broad’s last blog post…Sex and the Sippy =-.

  • Wrong? Are you kidding me?! I’m right there with you when it comes to fighting back when provoked.
    .-= Formerly Gracie’s last blog post…34 Weeks =-.

  • Actually, I love the advice you gave your daughter. Unfortunately we cannot help the bad parenting done by other people’s children, you can only advice your children on the correct way to behave. I think you did the right thing. And besides, your daughter might look back on the incidence in her twenties and laugh and be proud that she was the only kid to dress up.

    Hannah
    .-= Hannah Dalton’s last blog post…The Famous Nora =-.

  • My daughter is a lot less “wordly” than the other eighth graders, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of time to grow up. She knows how to stand up for herself, and my son (the object of verbal bullying at school) does too. Plus he knows tae kwon do *grin*; it’s never wrong to teach our kids to stand up for themselves. And pointing out a fact is not name calling; it’s calling out. *big cheesy grin*
    .-= Desert Songbird’s last blog post…Manic Monday – Rock =-.

  • SciFi Dad says:

    I think you were wrong, but I would have done the exact same thing.

    Also? My wife has Tinkerbell on her crocs.
    .-= SciFi Dad’s last blog post…The Nightmare Of Bathtime =-.

  • Amo says:

    Teaching her how to hold up her middle finger without using the other hand would have been wrong.

    You, were right on.
    .-= Amo’s last blog post…Where the hell are my bonbons? =-.

  • Jenny says:

    Hey. Just dropping in from another site and thought I’d say hi. You have a very nifty blog here. I really enjoy reading your posts. I’m gonna add you to my feed reader so I can keep up with your posts. :) Have a great week!
    .-= Jenny’s last blog post…Blogger Interviews =-.

  • Kimberley says:

    Hi,

    Found your Blog while looking for something else (my 7 to 12 year old students are doing Sleeping Beauty the play…and I can tell you that they all LOVE getting dressed up as Princesses and fairies..)

    Could you please tell your daughter (who sounds lovely) that I have just turned 39 and I bought a Tinkerbell T’Shirt yesterday. My thirteen year old daughter was sad that there were none small enough for her.

    The past few years I have done Disney shows with my third to seventh grade students. Although initially some of the PARENTS were concerned the kids would think them too young, the kids have loved the dressing up and being animals, princes, princesses and fairies. Even the boys have been happy as long as they don’t have to wear pink (fair enough).

    I know Australian kids are possibly not as sophisticated as in the US, but they really love being kids if you let them.

  • patois says:

    Fighting fire with fire seems reasonable to me, although I prefer it happen in the moment as opposed to after the fact. As in, too bad she wasn’t able to bring up the Elmo games at the time the bitch girl was making fun of Tinkerbell. But, seriously? Tinkerbell is way more mature than Elmo.
    .-= patois’s last blog post…Blue Rain: Haiku =-.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I hope, someday, with my coaching, she’ll be able to supply a snappy comeback in the moment. I hate to say this but it’s almost a necessary life skill. Too bad they need it so young…
      .-= IzzyMom’s last blog post…Mean Girls Suck =-.

  • esmeralda says:

    hay watz up

  • magpie says:

    I know that this mean girl stuff is likely to happen, and I fear it for my daughter. I’m glad you suggested how not to be a doormat.
    .-= magpie’s last blog post…Cancer =-.

  • Jennifer A says:

    I’m totally agreeing with you. I’m always trying to teach my kids to be themselves and ignore what other people say. Kids grow up too soon and the mean girl phase starts earlier with every generation.
    .-= Jennifer A’s last blog post…Yeah I suck as a mom for saying this, but this is where I’m at right now. =-.

  • cagey says:

    Awesome! My Not Even Two Year Old daughter just had her first experience with Mean Girls LAST NIGHT. We were at a baseball game and she was playing with some kids behind the bleachers. She came to me crying saying “dat girl mad. she mean to me” I went back there and there was one girl (about 6 or 7) who viewed me like a deer in headlights, which totally gave her away because she knew damned well why I was back there. I told the girl to stop being mean. Scared the crap out of her.

    On the way home, we practiced what my daughter needs to say in the future ” Stop being mean, you are horrible.” I hope that is enough for a two year for right now. We’ll work on the details when she can talk better. Sigh.

    I felt so bad for her, because she is so little and still really cannot defend herself.
    .-= cagey’s last blog post…Who cares? Really. Who cares? =-.

  • Assertagirl says:

    Damn, I wish I’d been encouraged to stick up for myself more with the mean girls when I was N’s age. I think you did the right thing, too.
    .-= Assertagirl’s last blog post…We stand on guard for thee. =-.

  • Ugh, camp mean girls. My daughter told me (6 months AFTER IT HAPPENED) that one girl at camp had twisted her finger back to “see if it hurt” and that a couple of the blonds were always trying to exclude her from the “group”. Sucks to hear about it, especially so much later. Fortunately, she is a genuinely nice kid, so most of the other girls really liked her.

    But, yeah, she should totally say something about the Elmo thing—but just be prepared that this may not be the end of it. I’d get counselors involved if it keeps on going. And, really, the camp should’ve been clear about costumes. I’m sure your daughter can’t be the first kid to have ever made worn a costume!
    .-= Fairly Odd Mother’s last blog post…I Wish That I was Jessie’s Girl =-.

    • IzzyMom says:

      My daughter has told me things from school that happened way earlier in the year, like a boy that would hit her every time her elbow touched “his side” of the table. I was like “WHAT????” Unfortunately it was the last week of school *sigh*

      Fortunately, my husband works at the private school where she attends camp so if anything serious happens, he can step in and handle it. As for costumes, having a princess dress-up day is just silly anyway. I hope they do away with that next year or have an open theme instead of limiting it to one thing.
      .-= IzzyMom’s last blog post…Mean Girls Suck =-.

  • Jerri Ann says:

    Wrong? Hell NO you did everything way better than I am afraid I ever will. I was bullied as a kid and my mom never gave me the tools to take up for myself with and I a still a bit of a pushover. My oldest son is 6, kind of nerdy really and of course, we think it’s funny but I am afraid he is going to be subjected to a lot of bullies because o f his easy going-want-to-please nature. That was great that you arned your child …you go..
    .-= Jerri Ann’s last blog post…How much are you worth? =-.

  • Mayopie says:

    This same exact thing happened to me the last time I wore my tinkerbell costume. As you mentioned, they don’t make Cinderella costumes in my size, a point which I made when questioned. Not to mention, how the hell am I supposed to pretend I can fly in a Cinderella costume? I know. Ridiculous. And she’s not a princess, she’s the Queen of Never Never land. This is Peter Pan’s woman we’re talking about here. I know they never say it, but it’s implied. And though their perpetual childhood won’t allow a structured heirarchy, Peter’s the king of that town. We know it, the other kids know it, and Captain Hook damn sure knows it. Take that, Elmo loving jerkface. Meanwhile, I think your advice was sound, but I would have added, “you should also kick her in the face.” No one wants to get kicked in the face by someone wearing a costume for babies.
    .-= Mayopie’s last blog post…I like being naked =-.

    • IzzyMom says:

      As it happens, she came up behind the girl when she was mid-Elmoing and loudly exclaimed “You’re playing Elmo games? How old are you anyway?” and then sauntered away, VICTORIOUS against Elmo-loving Jerkface. YESSSSSSSSS!

  • ali says:

    I totally would have done the exact same thing.
    :)
    .-= ali’s last blog post…Oh, and this was Wednesday. =-.

  • Catootes says:

    Criticism be damned. I’ve done similar with my daughter.

    Early in the school year, this one boy on her bus kept tripping her and hassling her. We told her to tell him to stop it, and bring it to the bus driver. If he didn’t stop it after three warnings, she should stomp on his foot, really hard. She chose to smack him with her back pack and get up in his face for being a jerk. He didn’t bother her after that.

    Being kind and good hearted is one thing, being a target of some snot nosed bitchy girl is a completely different thing. Our girls, and boys, need the confidence and strength to stand up for themselves.
    .-= Catootes’s last blog post…Pour Some Sugar On Me =-.

  • lynette says:

    I totally would have told my brat to do that. I feel like if you mess with my baby girl, she is allowed to return the favor.

    I hope that girl is really embarrassed. Jerk!
    .-= lynette’s last blog post…It’s a small, small world =-.

  • Karilyn says:

    I think you absolutely did the right thing.

    There’s so much drama with young girls that sometimes it just goes overboard. It’s all about who’s got the best outfit/hair/house/car, and to me those things just don’t matter. Tell you daughter that me and some of my friends went as disney princesses last year, and the majority of us are 16!

    ~K~

  • Christie says:

    I happen to run across this blog today while desperately trying to find some information to help my teenage daughter. The way you describe your daughter is exactly like mine with the exception mine is older now and it is not tinkerbell but girly stuff. She puts on make up in the morning but she doesn’t get into the stuff and talk about clothes and make up all of the time like her counterparts. This has led to her being at home alot and really not hanging out with her friends anymore. She seems to have lost interest in everything. She doesn’t even want to invite friends over anymore for fear of what they will say about the people she talks with. She is kind of a computer geek and loves art and reading. Alot of my friends say they love talking to her because she is like a small adult. I am proud of this but it seems to have isolated her as well, I am hoping as the other girls and guys get older, they will see what a beautiful person she is. I just hate seeing her all alone all of the time and having to just hang out with me or her dad. Should I just let this go or get her to talk to someone, I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions would be great, seems like there is a lot of really good moms blogging on here. Thanks

    • IzzyMom says:

      Dear Christie, this hurts my heart. I can totally feel your concern.

      Since your daughter has interests beyond all the dumb stuff girls are usually into, it sounds like she needs to find friends that share the same interests as her.

      If it were my daughter (and in a few years maybe it will be) I would guide her towards art classes either at school or outside of school or some other venue where she will meet kids that are into the same things (summer computer camp?). Depending on her age, maybe she could get a part time job. That’s how I made a lot of my friends in high school.

      If nothing else, take heart that after high school a whole new world opens up, particularly in college, and her qualities are ones that will appeal to a lot of interesting and like-minded people.

      I wish you both much luck. Please come back and let me know how things are going :)

  • Tiana Tozer says:

    As someone who has been the target of bulllies throughout my life including my adult life. Good for you for teaching your daughter to fight back, I wish I had known then what I know now. And bullying has life long effects. I was chased out of Pacific University by a group of mean girls, transferred to University of Oregon and then proceeded to be run over by an intoxicated driver, in a wheelchair I stood out more than normal and then it wasn’t just the girls and women making rude comments it was the men too. I developed a sharp, sarcastic wit.

    Currently, I’m writing my memoir and sent a facebook message to one of the girls who had tormented me in college, I told her how cruel she was and how much she hurt me and that I left school because of her and her cronies and she wrote back and said it was because I was flirting with her boyfriend, at that point I hadn’t had a date in my life and had no idea how to flirt and my friends tell me I still don’t. I told her that her misperceptions didn’t justify her behvior and I told her that I hope no one is ever as mean to her child and she was to me.

    I think it’s time we start our own club, and when we see that type of behavior we should call young girls on it. I remember sitting in the airport waiting for a flight and watching these three little girls, two of the girls were deliberately leaving the third girl out and when the ringleader walked by me, I looked her right in the eye and said, “I see what your doing, I know your leaving that girl out. You’re being mean.”

    And tell your daughter anytime she wants to dress up as tinkerbell, I’ll join her. I think I probably would have dressed up as Tinkerbell when I went to pick her up from camp. Hang in there and good for you for teaching her how to defend herself. We have got to stop this type of behavior at all costs.
    .-= Tiana Tozer’s last blog post…News articles from Kuwait =-.

  • Tiana Tozer says:

    P.S. there are some really great resources out there, Raising Ophelia, Queen Bees, Wannabees etc. that have some great suggestions to help girls cope.
    .-= Tiana Tozer’s last blog post…News articles from Kuwait =-.

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