I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.
Whenever I think about 6th grade, I remember three things:
1) My teacher’s name was also Diane, which I thought was pretty cool at the time
2) We did a report on constellations and I chose Cassiopeia
3) Mean girls
And #3 is really what I think of first every time. My class had two girls whom I’d known for a while. We’ll call them Jennifer and Jennifer (because those are their names).
We’d never been best friends, but I’d never had any problems with them and had even been mildly friendly with one of them in previous years. At some point during 6th grade, though, I became their target. I have no idea why it started, I just remember them coming after me.
One day, in particular, I remember them harassing me, though I don’t remember what it was about. I tried just leaving and went out into the hall (where our classroom computers were), but they followed me and kept picking at me. I truly felt like I was under attack with nowhere to go.
I don’t think the things they said to me were truly awful (neither of the girls were “bad” kids). It was more like hurtful (relentless) teasing. I could never figure out what I had done to them to warrant such treatment. I understand now, though, that it was probably because I reacted so satisfyingly. I’m sure it was very easy for them to hit a bulls eye and hurt me, which made them feel powerful.
Thankfully, they didn’t keep it up in 7th grade and I was never harassed to that degree by anyone else (well, except my best friend’s brother – he NEVER let up), but it taught me very well how mean people can be and, unfortunately, that stayed with me for a long time.
Now, I wonder how my girls, who are so much like me, will fare when they run into mean girls (or boys, for that matter) and I wonder what I can do to prepare them to navigate the badlands of adolescence. It’s enough to keep a mother up at night!