Tuesday, 18 September 2012
40. Mean girls
As I write this, my blood is absolutely boiling because one of the mothers at school has been talking about me. Apparently I am a real 'party animal' and am always in bars and nightclubs! This ‘juicy newsflash' reached my ears when her ten-year-old shared the ‘gossip’ with a classmate, who in-turn alerted my heart-on-the-sleeve-sensitive-Tia. After comforting a distraught Tia who was crushed from what she saw as a vilification of her mom, we talked about the unfortunate reality of certain types in the world. Then, I rang the source. Of course she expressed shock and denied liability, oscillating between laying the blame on her child, and insisting she had never EVER spoken about me to anyone in her life! Except, this was not an isolated incident because two separate sources had already blown the whistle on her and both times, I was puzzled because this girl didn’t know me beyond the rudimentary greetings we had exchanged at school! Was I tempted to call her out on it. Yes. Could I be bothered? No. Frankly, I am allergic to drama. I rang her to show Tia the importance of standing up to bullies. BLEH!
Through the years, I’ve had so many encounters with all sorts of bitchy varieties. Why oh why do I attract them? Now THAT’S a VERY good question! Matt says I am an easy target. A girlfriend said it was probably because I am too ‘open’ and friendly. Anyhow, whatever the reason, I find it quite maddening!
From the girl in Hong Kong (AND the one in London!) who each wormed their way into my inner circle, only to distort and falsify conversations in order to sabotage my friendships with other people; to the acquaintance who approached me one day just to share her opinion of how stupid I looked with pigtails. Did I mention Ms ‘charming’ often wore the most hideous of weaves in garish styles and colours? Ahh, but I must not stoop to her level because two ‘wrongs’ don’t make a ‘right’ and being candid does not give you the license to be unkind. Although, I AM tempted to walk around with a sign that reads: Haters, take your drama somewhere else! SIGH.
As a mother, it especially pains me to see any child on the receiving end of spiteful behaviour -- and its even worse when it is your child being bullied. My gut still turns itself inside-out when I recall how a handful of girls at school made Faith’s life miserable for a few years. From excluding her to name calling, to actual physical abuse. We had endless discussions about how to deal with the bullies. Crucially, we also talked about how their behaviour was more likely a manifestation of their insecurities and possibly stuff they were going through at home as opposed to a reflection of who she was. To her credit, Faith found the confidence to celebrate her individuality, steered away from the mean girls and found people who didn’t make her feel bad about herself.
Getting back to the original incident that kicked off this rant, the next morning at breakfast, Tia had a few questions. She wanted to know why I didn’t tell the woman I knew about all the other things she had said about me. I replied there was nothing to gain from revealing the true extent of my knowledge. She then asked, “What are you going to do the next time you see her?” My response was no doubt long-winded but I expressed that while it wasn’t a big deal I was not on this woman’s ‘BFF’ list, and that her opinion of me was HER problem, not mine; I wasn’t going to let someone else’s maliciousness make me feel bad about myself or stop me from being friendly. I then finished our conversation with an old Eleanor Roosevelt quote:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
That made my little girl break into a big smile as she skipped off to get ready for school.