My daughter attended her first day of middle school on Monday. I’ve been in minor crisis about it for weeks. All anyone has told me is how awful middle school is, how the choices we faced in high school and college (drugs, drinking, sex, etc.) are now the choices of middle school. My girl is mature, but there is no 12 year old on the face of the planet mature enough to deal with those things. And those are just the obvious evils. What about the regular, everyday concerns: who do I eat lunch with? and why is everyone else wearing ____ -type jeans this year?
I read Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes (the book is the basis for the “Mean Girls” movie) to figure out how to help my daughter. Like I said, I’ve been upset at the thought of middle school, and this book made it worse because I suddenly remembered how it was. I’m not a swearing woman, but if I were, I’d let loose a string of words that could burn your ears.
Do you remember the feelings of junior high? It’s hard to look back now—because we’re so darn rational. Until I read the book, I kept thinking conversations with my daughter in my mind, “You think it’s hard to sit by someone new at lunch? Try paying a mortgage!” or “Honey, you’re a beautiful, righteous, wonderful girl. Just don’t care about what those other girls say.”
Easy for me to say. Now. Then was a whole different story. Wiseman argues that the intensity of a young girl’s feelings for friends and social situations matches or even exceeds the intensity of emotion a woman feels in intimate relationships later in life. I know those feelings, that desperate fear, that aching loneliness, the brittle shell of popularity/intelligence/beauty that covers it all. Looking back now, I know that I was okay then, that underneath it all was a rock of testimony and faith and a knowledge that God loved me. But dang it was hard at the time. Remember?