As I pry open the heavy metal door at my daughter’s school, I notice, she is sitting on a chair by herself, while a gaggle of nine year-olds are whispering and laughing on the other side of the room. She meets me outside dragging her worn out backpack, which has lost all but one of its wheels-one more thing to put on my to-do-list buy her another book bag-and I look into her glassy eyes and I can tell she has been holding back tears. I ask her what’s happened, and she launches into a dramatic rendition of the inherent meanness that girls, even sweet unsuspecting ones, with flaxen curls and angelic faces can possess. Today’s problem du jour; her best friend, has taken a new best friend, and being that two is company and three is a crowd, my daughter has been unceremoniously dropped from her “in crowd.”
I look at my little girl and I desperately want to tell her not to worry; tomorrow things will be different, her friendship will be restored and life will continue exactly as she â€˜d like it to, but I know I can’t and my heart breaks just a bit. At thirty-seven years old, I am still at the mercy of women, who like my daughter’s friends have skillfully perfected the art form of backstabbing and salacious gossip. As I listen to her litany of problems, my mind drifts back to when as a pregnant newlywed, I moved into my neighborhood, and short of begging, I did everything I could to break into the young Moms clique. I figured, since we were all doing the stay-at-home, part-time working juggle, we’d have to be instant friends.
Unfortunately, my pregnant self high on hormones and chocolate had stripped me of my rational thought; that unlike men who can immediately bond over topics as mundane as the weather, women don’t play as nice. After several unsuccessful attempts at being invited along to their morning coffee at Starbuck’s gabfest, I felt utterly alone and rejected, although I’m sure feeling like a bloated beached whale didn’t help matters much. And like most women, I owned all the blame; what was wrong with me, why didn’t these women like me, why couldn’t I be accepted? At thirty something I felt as if I had never left freshman year at high school- that like my younger self I still was unable to infiltrate the in-crowd. I naively believed those school-girl dramas were reserved for just that, school settings. And yet the older I get the more apparent it becomes, while we physically leave high school, it’s emotional impact is forever imprinted upon the women we ultimately become. And what about those neighborhood snobsâ€”they’re still snobby as ever, except years later with a life filled with two kids, a dog, a writing career and a husband, I care a lot less!
I want to wrap up my daughter’s problem with a neat red bow so I assure her that this is a good opportunity to strike out and make new friends in her class. I try to point out the silver lining that she is better off being dropped by a friend, who obviously wasn’t a good friend in the long-run. I tell her she will form more lasting friendships with other girls. I try to give her my undivided attention but it’s proving to be more challenging, as I’m driving the car, darting through traffic, while her baby brother is screaming that he wants to get out of his car seat. For a split second I wish I could have given her a sister; an ally to confide in and back-her up in the face of these mean girls, but I’m finished with C-sections and midnight feedings and I have sisters and our relationships are far from perfect. For now, the best I can do is stop off at the Dunkin Donuts drive thru and get her a powdered crÃ¨me filled munchkin, and hope the minor distraction will divert her attention towards fried dough and all things sweet. I know it’s a temporary band-aid and probably sending her the wrong message, that food can be used for comfort, but for now it’s the best I can do and hey a little sweet crÃ¨me can’t do that much damageâ€¦right?!