I’m going to start off by saying listen to the old lady in the grocery store who says enjoy these days with your baby because they will fly by. She is right! Listen to her. I am saying this as an exhausted mom of three who didn’t sleep for years. I am entering the teen years of parenting, and they suck. They have so many good moments but they also just plain suck. I’m trying to navigate my child’s friendships and emotions when honestly I don’t think I ever got over my high school years. The pain children feel when hurt by friends is so fresh and so easy to remember.
My daughter is in eighth grade at an amazing high school. But let’s start off with the fact that eighth graders should NOT be in high school. I do not know why this trend started years ago but it’s a terrible idea. Why throw middle school teenagers with raging hormones, electronics and no idea who they are into buildings with students who are having sex and preparing to leave for college? I wish we could give them one more year to grow and adjust to that hormonal surge before throwing them into the high school mix.
And then there is the friend drama. The lunch group… you know what I’m talking about, high school mamas. For example, why does one girl decide for another that maybe she shouldn’t sit in their lunch group anymore? Seriously, who put you in charge of my daughter’s decisions? A few weeks ago, one day out of the blue a friend feels the need to say at the end of lunch, “maybe you should go sit with another group.” The quiet, sweet minding-her-own-business friend simply says, “okay,” and she walks off devastated and crying. The few people she knew as friends decided for her that it was time for her to go. As a mother you always want to take your child’s pain away, especially when you know what that pain feels like. I cried the entire way to school to pick her up after the counselor called me and put my crying daughter on the phone. How do you explain to her that she did nothing wrong and girls are just mean? But why? Why are we like this?
I’m mad, like real mad. And here is the tricky part about being a high school mom. I can’t call the mom and say your daughter is being a jerk to my daughter. There are situations that still warrant a parent call, but not this. At this point in parenting I have to calm all my mama bear instincts and counsel my daughter through it when everything in me wants fix this for her. You just cannot fix all middle school/high school problems for your kids.
I do also believe in most things happen for a reason. This was not the way I wanted my daughter to learn about friendship, but it reminded her what true friendship is. This wasn’t it. So she decided to try other groups, and she has luckily found girls that are actually kind and interested in her and not just concerned with their social status. But I know this isn’t the end because this is only eighth grade and we have four more years of learning, growing and tears.
I feel like we talk and share posts about friendships and how women should build each other up, not tear each other down. But I see it everywhere: grown women excluding each other. Your daughters are watching.
I have no real advice for the early high school years. I have been telling my daughter all the things to get her through this. I say, “this will be better in the long run, girls can be mean, not everyone was meant to be your friend.” I build her up as much as I can, and I remind her that she is amazing. That’s all I can do; always let her know that I will support her through this journey.
So well written and so true! The expectation that a child can go into a High School setting just preys upon ALL the things that they are not ready for, nor do the have the ability to handle. A lunch group is no more than a designated clique of “friends.” They are dumped into a world of so many fish in the sea and as they gravitate to their school of fish, they are told there’s no more room for you in this school. It’s a societal expectation promoted by parents and the schools. It begins with the stressor of making a decision and only being able to choose one school and then panic sets in.”what if I don’t get in?” A child with anxiety has to deal with that before they even leave the comfort of the school they know. It is obviously present in the ways in which parents, specifically moms, pick and choose their children’s friends and exclude other girls and their mothers. It starts well before high school, it’s only magnified there. I tell my kids to always choose kindness, no matter who pushes you out or away you always respond with kindness. The answer lies in institutional and societal change. There is no other place in the world where ANYONE cares where you went to high school. No. Where. Yet here, our culture has embraced it as a status symbol. If that’s what you received from your high school experience, then you missed out on a lot and now, by passing that down to your child is only continuing the narrative of “I’m better than you.” No, you’re not. You are missing out on a lot if that’s the message you want to be known for. Let our children BE children. The world is a hard and difficult place to live with the expectations that come with being an adult. Let the fishy’s swim!