I may be 47 years old, but I can still remember the pain of adolescence very, very distinctly. It’s one of the reasons I wasn’t overly eager to have a children. I just wasn’t sure I could live through the drama all over again.
Thankfully, I did have children and discovered that surviving life between the ages of 13 and 15 not only made me stronger, it also provided extremely valuable lessons about life.
Take, for example, the lessons I learned from the mean girls of my youth – the “pretty people” who took great pleasure from doing all they could to promote themselves and their social status while belittling others.
As a friend recently told me, “those mean girls just grow up and become mean women.”
I only partially agreed with her. Some change. Some don’t.
I still have to deal with the ones who didn’t, and my daughter is having to deal with the new crop of mean girls.
Sometimes we have to tolerate them because they have more power than we do. Sometimes we have to confront them because we aren’t the only one being hurt. And sometimes we simply need to talk about them with our friends.
My daughter and I were both doing that last week.
I was angry about the adult versions of the mean girls. My daughter is still trying to understand the mean girls at her middle school.
I was venting to friends about how unbelievably selfish some women can be. My daughter was giggling with friends about how ridiculous burn books are. Yes, the mean girls at her school actually have a burn book in which they write hurtful comments about others.
I was ranting about women who are more concerned about their social status than helping meet the needs of the less fortunate. My daughter was making fun of how the mean girls at her school named their clique, demand special privileges and are proud that they exclude others.
And that’s when it struck me.
I was wasting my time and energy complaining about women who will probably never change. My daughter wasn’t wasting her emotional energy but was simply viewing the mean girls as characters in a book or play. She finds them entertaining but not really relevant.
Since my daughter has a wide circle of diverse friends, she doesn’t care about a few superficial girls who want to exclude her. She’s much more interested in the people who do include her and how they enrich her life.
My daughter hasn’t yet turned 13, but she has already learned some valuable life lessons – ones that I’m still learning. I like to think my own experiences have helped guide her, but I also know that she’s teaching me as well.
And she’s a very good educator.