“Girls are mean.” That’s what I told the Girl when she called me at 1 a.m. from the New Year’s Eve sleepover she was having “so much fun” at. She said she didn’t want to come home, but she wasn’t feeling very comfortable with the “drama” that some of the other girls were creating. Now she’s been spending the night with family and friends since she was little and has never been one of those kids who likes the idea of staying away from home until it’s time to go to sleep. I’d be more likely to come home to my own bed in the middle of the night than her.
But, at 12, she and her friends – and the interactions at sleepovers – are changing. No longer are they playing princess dress-up, barbies or baby dolls. No longer are they simply excited to giggle in the dark when their parents finally say it’s time for lights out. Now, they’re tweens – almost teens – teen girls.
Sometimes, usually when talking about an office, people (both men and women) will say that when you get a group of women together, you’re just asking for trouble. Invariably, they say, emotions will run high and drama will ensue. And teenagers (both boys and girls) can be the kings and queens of drama sometimes. So it follows then, that a group of teenage girls are going to be volatile. It’s no secret; I mean, there have been movies devoted wholly to this.
This particular NYE party was a sleepover for girls, but there were a few boys allowed until 1 a.m. to help ring in the new year. So the Girl called me shortly after the boys left because a couple of the other girls started arguing about one of the boys. Pretty soon, the group was divided and the Girl felt torn.
Now I certainly don’t mean to imply that my daughter is an angel or that’s she’s never caused or encouraged drama. But I do know that she doesn’t like to take sides between friends. In fact, the parents who hosted this party have called her the “peacemaker” in the past, because she always seems to get their twin girls to get along better. So I understood when she said she was feeling very uncomfortable while trying to remain neutral.
But she didn’t want to come home. And dad and I thought it was good for her to try to work it out. I told her that if she needed me to, I’d come get her anytime, but that if she wanted to stick it out, then fine. Then she said, “I love you, mommy.” Mommy. I should have known then she wouldn’t last.
I’d stayed up late watching a movie and really felt as though I’d just dozed off when the phone rang again about 4 a.m. She was complaining of a headache, saying that things had only gotten worse. All the girls were still awake and some were demanding that she and a few other neutrals pick a side. She sounded terribly uncomfortable and sad. So I did what any mommy would do: I went and got her.
On the way home in the cold and dark, she told the whole, typical story: girls were arguing over boys, making fun of each other, and dividing the haves from the have-nots. From what she said, there was a lot of intentional scaring, tripping or pantsing; a good bit of boosting oneself up by stepping on the feelings of others; and lots of friend-one-minute-enemy-the-next moments. Honestly, I think she had a headache because she was afraid to go to sleep there. This is why I don’t have many friends.
Now some may say that this is just part of growing up; that kids will be kids; that this is just a phase they’re going through. Well, I really hope not my kids. I hope she never gets comfortable with this sort of thing. I hope she remembers that uncomfortable feeling and never makes someone else feel it. And, especially as we embark on her teenage years, I hope she remembers that mommy is never more than a phone call away.