Mean Girls and Lots of Coffee

My daughter has a long-awaited playdate this morning.  This playdate started at a cringeworthy 8 am, but because their family is on a completely different schedule than mine and she has been wanting to have this girl over for more than a year and this is the first time it has worked out, I am drinking more coffee and trying to appreciate the moment.

I admit I often get a little nervous when my daughter plays with other little girls.  She does have some sweet little girlfriends but most of her friends are boys, and until she is 16 and smokin-hot, I will be completely fine with this arrangement.

This is because while little girls can be sweet and adorable, even at the ripe old age of 7 the tendency toward clique-iness and meanness is already there.  And though I haven't seen these traits in my daughter's little playmate, I do happen to know she has been on the receiving end of it, and I don't like that one little bit.  Come to think of it, that's probably the main reason I gave my blessing to this early morning date to begin with.

It all reminds me why many of my friends growing up were boys.  And it reminds me why I need coffee.

I don't want to discredit the importance of female friendships.  I have some lifelong girlfriends and becoming a mom helped me realize afresh the importance of having great women in my life.  In this respect I am extremely blessed to have many friends both old and new, but I realize the magnitude of this blessing primarily because it's easy to see how good something is when you have something really bad to compare it to.

I think I know these girls...
I met many Mean Girls growing up.  I remember how they pointed out my failings.  My inadequate clothing.  My dorky glasses.  My glaring lack of athletic ability.  My pimples, awkwardly covered by too much makeup.  My family's low socioeconomic standing.

I remember how angry they made me, how they made me dread going to school, how they made me look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I really was as ugly as they said I was.   I remember trying to defend myself (sometimes rudely, sometimes unwisely) and often only making my situation worse.  I remember wondering what I had done to deserve any of it.

I remember all of them, their faces and their names.  I do also remember, though, that knowing them changed me for the better as well.

These Mean Girls made me learn to stand up for myself, to face conflict directly, and to have very little fear of what others think.  They made me learn to use my words with skill, intelligence, and power.  They made me learn to define myself instead of allowing other people to define me.  They made me learn how important it is to be a friend to people who aren't exactly like me.

What those girls intended to destroy me, God used to make me more confident, well-spoken, loyal, and unafraid of diversity.  I understand that not everyone who is bullied has such a positive outcome, but God has been especially gracious to me in this area and it's interesting to reflect upon how useful these personality traits have been to me in my adult life.  On some level, I am glad they targeted me.  I am a better person for it.

Looking back, there wasn't really anything I could have done to prevent being bullied.  There probably isn't anything I can do to prevent my daughter from being bullied some day, either.  She's beautiful and popular and I doubt she will be targeted, but you never know.   The girls who targeted me weren't necessarily prettier or smarter than I was.  I can, however, help her learn how important it is that she never be on the giving end of a Mean Girl exchange, and hopefully I can help her be a friend to those who are.  This playdate this morning is a start of that, and if that requires me to drink more coffee, I will just keep telling myself that it's worth it.

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