When I was a young girl, my grandmother told me — and showed me by example — to always look for the good in people. What she didn’t mention was how hard it would be to find in some cases. I can’t tell you how many friendships I’ve let my alter ego, Miss Pollyanna Give Everyone a Chance, talk me into — and leave me wondering how to get the hell out of.
Let’s start with the mean girl in fourth grade. What I saw: She bossed around all the other girls and basically ran the playground. What I told myself: Oh, I bet she’s nice once you get to know her. What happened: She wasn’t nice at all. She belittled me in front of my other friends. She talked about me behind my back. She snubbed me whenever a better opportunity came along. She told other girls not to be friends with me. Basically, she was a total brat. Honestly, “brat” is not the “b” word that comes to mind here, but I can’t call a fourth grader that, right?
Fast forward to adulthood: The mean girls grew into mean women and became “meanie moms.” If you are a woman with children and say you don’t know a mom like this, I’d say you either live under a rock or are from some other highly evolved planet. I know for a fact you’ve never participated in a play group.
My kids are almost teenagers now, so I’ve had my share of miserable meanie mom moments. Over the years I’ve learned that the best strategy is to listen to your instincts and don’t get sucked in — or at least keep any required contact to a minimum. What you don’t like upon meeting someone will come back to haunt you in the end. Every. Single. Time.
Thanks to Miss Pollyanna, I’ve had to learn this the hard way. It might have been an easier lesson if my little-girl self had taken heed of one of Nana’s other favorite sayings: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Do you have any “meanie mom” stories? I’d love to hear them.
I know exactly what you mean! We girls grow up thinking these types of girls will also grow up when if fact the actually become more crafty at what they do. The biggest problem for many of them is they are very narcissistic. LIfe revolves around what they can “take” for themselves, despite the consequences. Check out Facebook and notice that in all the pictures they are in they are always positioned smack in the center of the photo, with all others around them. Hmm…coincidence? I think not. These same girls are also the “out of the blue do-gooders” who pop up when they hear of a cause so that they can fly in like Wonder Woman, be all that and more in a friend, receive praise and pats on the back for all they do to help, then fly back out of life on their broom in search of the next cause to feed their narcissistic hunger. Watch out for the speech on “let’s bury the hatchet”…it will get buried all right…in your back! And above all…listen to your mama & your grandma!
Right on, mama! You really hit the nail on the head about narcissism. As for the phony philanthropists out there, a true do-gooder helps often and quietly. The phonies should be ashamed for exploiting others’ painful and difficult situations for their own gain. It really makes my skin crawl. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights.
I made friends with a bunch of moms on a pregnancy chatboard. We eventually spun off into our own and 3+ years later there are still 33 of us. We are all over the country, but some of us are closer than others. Anyhow- we have a group on Fb that is just ours and have had no infighting, backstabbing, etc. We genuinely like each other. Here we can talk about these kinds of incidents and moms and reassure one another that we aren’t in the wrong, what we’re doing is competely fine, etc. Without them I seriously don’t know what I would do. I imagine my feelings would have been hurt a thousand times over- or I would have listened to every piece of bad advice ever. Oh Nana and her sayings. She should have written a book.
That is a wonderful thing, Farrah! I wasn’t involved much on the Internet when my kids were young, but thankfully I met some moms at the park and through playgroups and preschool who became my friends, my sounding board and my support system. I too don’t know what I would have done without them. Great moms, great people, are everywhere. We can’t let the bad apples keep us from looking for the good ones.
I love the above comment regarding the public do-gooders!!! Why oh why must these women post their good deeds on FB? I agree that those who are truly altruistic do it silently. It does sadden me greatly that these mean 4th graders often never had a chance, they are most often a product of what happens in the home. Try to talk to the mother of the child who bullies your kid and you will most likely meet an adult bully.
On another note, Ms. Poly, I will promise to remind you of this post in the future. Afterall, that’s what friends are for. Perfect timing on this Blog, btw.
That is so true, Mama K. The mother of the boy who used to bully S was emotionally unstable and dealing with lots of personal demons (see my response to thegilmore girl below). I felt sorry for her but had to protect my son from her son’s behavior and the fact that she enabled it. A very messed-up situation, indeed.
As for the public do-gooders: Do they really think anyone believes their BS? It’s kind of pathetic. No, very pathetic.
Having lived through a gut-wrenching 8th grade year with my now sophomore daughter, I’d have to say the other part of this equation is not meanie moms but me-moms…they’re so wrapped up in their own lives (perhaps battling their own issues) and can’t/don’t want to believe that their sweet little girl could be treating others in such hurtful ways. And my experience was that these mean girls were so effective because they were incredibly skilled at deceit…showing one “perfect child” face to those in authority (parents/teachers) but a completely different one to their peers when adults were not around. By the grace of God, my daughter made it through and is rebuilding her life, but she is now overly cautious in opening herself up to friendships. My read is that she does not want to be that vulnerable (or that wounded) again, and who can blame her. But it makes me so sad because growing up I had a large circle of girlfriends that originated in grade school (we were known as the Goodie Goods) and later merged with another similar group from a different feeder school at our very large high school. There was definitely safety in numbers and protection against the mean girls, although I have to say, they weren’t quite so efficiently mean 30-35 years ago…or so numerous.
@thegilmoregirl: You raise a very valid point about “me moms” whose narcissism prevents them from acknowledging their children’s negative behavior. My son dealt with a boy who was quite the “undercover bully” a few years go. His mom refused to believe the stories about what he was doing. It was an ugly situation, but having gotten to know her previously, I knew her actions stemmed from her own insecurities. That didn’t stop me, however, from standing up for and protecting my son and making sure the school knew what was going on.
I am very sorry to hear that your daughter struggled with such cruelty. Those emotional scars stay with us. For me, the problems with mean girls were limited to elementary school. To this day, I remember their hateful words and what it felt like to be excluded and made fun of. In middle school and high school, like you, I had a core group of true friends, girls and boys, and we managed to stay out of the drama. We weren’t popular. In fact, we were quite nerdy. But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing about those years.
It’s quite telling to look at the “nerds” and “cool” kids as grown ups. Typically the “nerds” are leading much healthier, happier lives. I see this personally & professionally. In my work it is typically the “cool” kids, as adults trying to work through the same issues they had as children. I find it rather saddening.