I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Last year, when my daughter was in kindergarten, everything was great. It was a new school, where she didn’t know anyone except for one boy from preschool, who wasn’t even in her class. But she’s likeable, and sweet, and she made friends easily. Nice friends. Whew, I thought. No mean girls. We dodged a bullet. But the wise moms with older daughters told me not to start celebrating just yet. Just wait, they cautioned. It all goes downhill from here.
Of course, they were right. This year, the classes mixed, some new girls came, and suddenly, in first grade, there’s a whole new dynamic. Instead of stories about how all the girls played together at recess, my daughter is coming home with stories about the girls who wouldn’t play with her at recess. Instead of looking forward to having a new job partner each week, my daughter worries each week about who her partner is going to be. Some of the girls, she tells me, just aren’t that nice. Taunts of “I don’t want to sit with you,” or “I only want to play with so and so,” cloud her mind, and some days, my happy, joyful little girl steps off the bus looking positively crushed. I won’t say that we’re quite at “mean girls” yet, but I can tell, it’s a comin’.
At the same time, however, I look at the boys, who all seem to get along just fine, as long as there’s a ball involved. And it makes me realize how lucky boys are, to have the kinds of common denominators that distract them from the petty nonsense with which girls become so consumed. My own son is a perfect example. He just turned four, and he hasn’t gotten sucked into the whole sports thing yet. But still, he can make friends with anyone if they’re wearing a Star Wars shirt, or carrying a Power Rangers lunch box. Just last week, we saw a boy at his school wearing a tee shirt with Darth Vader on it, and my son walked right up to him, and without saying a word, pointed at his own Darth Vader tee shirt. They had never even seen each other before, but within minutes they were having a pretend light saber battle, and chatting about who their favorite characters are. When we left to go my son’s classroom, he asked me if we could have a playdate with that boy. What’s his name? I asked him. I don’t know, he said. But he likes playing Star Wars.
It’s the same way for grown men. My husband has made all kinds of friends at Dodger Games, or at restaurants where a football game is playing on the tv above the bar. All it takes is a nod of the head and a grunt of what’s the score, and suddenly, they’re hanging out, speaking a sports language that few women understand. Obviously, these aren’t real, close friendships. But there’s no question that in playing sports, watching sports, or even battling with pretend light sabers, boys are able to bond with each other in profound, positive ways. I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of equivalent ways in which girls can connect with each other, but every time, I come up short. Shopping? I don’t think so. Dolls? Not past the age of six or seven. Sports? Maybe for some girls, but then they usually end up playing with the boys at recess. Unfortunately, for girls, it seems that their “sport” is, a lot of the time, just being mean to other girls.
I don’t have a great answer to this problem, or a snarky comment to end this post with. It’s heartbreaking, as a mother, to see your child’s feelings get hurt, and to know that there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s even more heartbreaking to know that this is just the beginning, and that, most likely, it’s only going to get worse. I love being a woman, and I love having a daughter. But sometimes, I really hate girls.
Also read from Risa:
The Bitch & Big Daddy