In the past week, Josie has come home from school telling me about various 'Hate Clubs' that one little girl, E, has started in her grade. E is very pretty, and gets a lot of attention for it, unfortunately, among the other kids. Boys want to sit next to her, and other girls apparently want to be her friends. Josie (thank GOD) is not like this, but from what she says, half of the fifth grade has joined this little witch's hate clubs, even girls who were previously friends with the two who have been targeted so far. I have no idea why one of the two girls in particular was targeted, since she's funny and pretty herself; the other girl does tend to bring problems onto herself with her own words and actions, and has never been even remotely popular - not that she deserves this in any way, just that if someone is going to be the target of something like this, it's much less of a surprise that her name would come up.
Josie's very upset that this is all going on, and we were talking last night about how she's been trying to figure out why E is this way, and all she can come up with is that it's because her parents are divorced and she somehow is messed up because of that, but since it happened years ago that doesn't really make sense. I was forced to tell her the truth - while there's always a reason, some kids are just going to be nasty. Before this, when other children have been unpleasant, they've been younger and it's been easier to see the acts as related to something around them, but they're reaching the age where kids are going to be starting to act based on their own emotions and feelings, not necessarily as a reaction to something else. I told her that kids who already have a little following based on something shallow, like their looks or parents' money, sometimes crave more, and either because of insecurity or power-hungriness they work to build up on that following through the easiest means possible - making others feel and look bad. I also told her the other awful truth, that this is really only the beginning of what's to come, unfortunately, over the next several years, and that the only good news is that, even if she's not standing there to see it, eventually these people will fall flat on their faces and be as miserable as they've made everyone else. I truly believe that, at some point, karma boomerangs meanness back around; it's just too bad that those of us who were treated badly don't get some email about it!
This really hit me in the head with the fact that we're about to enter the whole horrid cycle with her. Girls in particular can be so, so awful to each other, and I feel like I'm going to have to take a LOT of Something to walk with her through all of it. It was bad enough when I was a kid, but at least then the nastiness was somewhat contained to individual phone conversations after the school day ended. For the moment, these hate groups are probably stopping at the door at the end of the school day, particularly for those girls who aren't really Into It, and are just going along for the ride. In another few years, all of those girls will be facebook friends, and the nastiness will be continued and fanned in the afterschool hours as well. It's like a 24hr live-action slambook, I guess (remember slambooks? it makes me a little ill thinking about them, actually).
I posted a short about this whole thing on FB, and one person I know said that I should report it to the principal, to stop the bullying now. I'm thinking about that. I think we all know that I'm big on reporting and complaining when I think something's not right at the school (ahemhelpedgettateacherfiredahem), so that's not the problem - I'm not shy. The thing is, 1) Josie told me this not really in confidence, but it was a conversation between the two of us, and I don't want her to feel like I report everything she says all the time, and 2) the girls targeted, so far, don't include Josie, and I'm not sure whether I should be the one reporting this stuff to the principal. My other option is to talk to the parents of the children who are being picked on, who I know because they're the parents of Josie's friends. That would be a GREAT conversation, wouldn't it? 'Hi, Josie wanted to know if K could come over to play on Friday because K has been so sad over having a hate club formed against her - oh, you did know that, right?' Sigh.
Meanwhile, on the Josie friend front, that same girl who was giving her crap before continues to do so in various other ways, but all basically surround the girl trying to make herself top banana. When they're alone, Girl is nice to Josie; when they're with the other girl in their trio (I know, three is a BAD number), Girl constantly corrects and talks over Josie. I'm pretty sure this is her way of trying to be the group leader, and of expressing her jealousy over the third girl's equally strong friendship towards Josie, but still. I told Josie that the next time Girl does it, call her out immediately, in front of the third friend, and tell her exactly what she told me - that it makes her angry, hurts her feelings, and she doesn't like being treated so rudely. Josie's pretty ballsy, so I think she'll really do it. I worry, though. Hate clubs, bitchiness, jealousy... hooray. Welcome to puberty, fifth-grade style. :(
2 months ago