Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hate Clubs

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. :(


Marie Green said...

There are some excellent books on this subject- Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, Odd Girl Out, Odd Girl Speaks Out, etc. I've read a few- years ago- and plan to reread as my own daughters reach this stage of life.

The premise of many of them is that we, as a society, raise girls to be "nice" ALL the time. They therefore do not have an outlet for anger, frustration etc (vs. boys, who get it off their chest right away, maybe swing a few fists, but then are OVER it). These books talk about how girls ARE meaner than boys- premeditative, passive-agressive, using trickery (IMing with one person while three other stand over the shoulder and watch)...

Interesting, scary stuff. I do think Josie has a good head on her shoulders, so her maturity should help her.

Sarah said...

Man, there were a lot of things about being home schooled I didn't like, but one fantastic thing was missing out on all this junior high bs. By the time I entered high school- small private school, btw- all that junk was over with and I had survived those years with my self esteem intact, so I wasn't automatically intimidated by popular girls.
One of my biggest fears is that my daughter(s) will end up BEING a mean girl. Enduring one is bad enough; can you imagine being the parent of a mean kid and trying helpless to figure out where you went wrong and how to stop it? Shudder.

Kristin.... said...

We are already seeing some of this in the 3rd grade. I am reading a series of books to M called the "Candy Apple Club", and the main mean group is called "The League". I'm using the books as a sounding board to talk these issues over with M, and will continue to do so as she gets older.
I'll have to look into the books Marie mentioned. After all, I have 3 girls who'll have to deal with all of this, and since I was a girl who was picked upon for everything under the sun, I want them to have the confidence to stand up to it that I never had.

Anonymous said...

I dread these years in our future. For me, the Mean Girls started in 5th grade with some horrible encounter that I have literally blocked out. My mom reminded me of it a few years ago but I have no memory of it (parents met with teachers + principal, etc). It's such a painful time anyway without all the additional Mean Girl Drama.

creative kerfuffle said...

sadly i have to admit we've gone through this and go through this w/ the girl (7th grade). i don't know if i would talk to the principal at this point and honestly, i have my issues w/ the bully reporting thing at school. since it is anonymous (at our school) it can also be used as a weapon, as in the girl was reported twice by a girl who desperately wanted to be her friend and thought that was a good way to get attention.
i think the main thing in all of these issues is communicating w/ your kid and letting her know what is good/bad behavior and taking her lead on dealing w/ things.

d e v a n said...

gawd, that sucks. I don't even know...

Stimey said...

Wow, that is terrible. I would probably tell the teacher or the principal. I guess I imagine if it were my kid and I didn't know about it, but some other parent did, I'd hope that they would say something to defend my child.

Sigh. It really sucks to have to see the beginnings of this sort of thing. I agree that it is worse with girls, for sure. Thank goodness Josie talks to you about this stuff. Can you tell the teacher or principal without telling her you did?

I know that my kid (Jack) will eventually be at the brunt of something. And he's not going to be able to tell me about it. I hope that someone else would speak up for him.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

O. M. G.

I can't deal with this. Seriously. Z and E will need to find some one else to mother them through the pre-teen and teen years because I will be hooked up to a Valium drip in the corner.

It makes me want to check out the books Marie Green mentioned. I'm currently reading on "The Curse of the Good Girl" which touches on some of these subjects and how to help our daughters navigate the dangerous waters of adolescence and friendships.

But seriously. WILL NEED VALIUM

Suzanne said...

I am glad that you spoke out on the subject. Many schools have anti-bullying programs that recognize repeated behavior and not single disciplined events. Glad they are getting agressive.

Your blog comment made my day. My biggest fear is that my essays sound like a mom complaining.. your comment made me smile.

Suzanne at www.specialneedsmom.com