I spent one of my junior high years at a private school and the second at public school and as I dig deep into my memories I cannot find a positive memory from either experience.
But I shook those rough years off and then, well ... grew up.
When my daughters entered junior high my past remained faithfully tucked away in a dusty old yearbook somewhere. This was going to be their experience. This, I was certain would be better.
But, oh hey there Junior High. I can see you haven't changed much.
I wondered if my fraternal twin daughters - who are a sun and a moon, they couldn't be more different in every way - would stay together or use the freedom junior high has to offer - to branch apart; find their own set of friends, activities and hobbies.
They haven't. I've noticed in a group of girls, they still stick together and I'll admit at first I thought it was a good sign; their bond would remain intact. But as time went by it appeared they were less sticking together and, I began to wonder, more being left out.
Maybe they were but my heart told me they have what they need inside of them to navigate the social scene. Not climb to the top of the social ladder - we're in no way interested in our Tribe to be on top people, we're more interested in being happy, kind, make the world a better place people.
I decided not to worry about them.
And it seemed I was making the right decision when teachers, coaches, and even other parents on the bleachers stopped to tell me how much they were enjoying the girls, especially my 'sun' (the shiny sparkly one of the sun/moon combination).
Until. Yesterday twin sister was visiably upset. Upon investigation she confessed she was privy to some hateful conversation about her twin. Apparently my sun is too sparkle-y, too loud and obnoxious.
I looked at her beautiful face, eyes rimmed with tears dangerously close to spilling down her cheeks, masked my own grief and asked what she was going to do with that information.
We talked about the reprocussions of approaching the mean girls as well as the probability of just keeping quiet about it all. I asked her to consider all of the possible outcomes and instructed her to understand whatever she chooses to do, she has to own the consequences. We hugged it out and we'll see what happens on Monday, if anything.
I find it ironic how the same qualities celebrated by the adults who have met twin sister are the same characteristics annoying her peers.
I think that is the very hardest part about parenting; raising children to be people who have the skills to navigate the bigger, wider, and sometimes harsher world, while fostering the belief that they have a meaningful contribution to make to it.
Turns out potty training was not the hard part of raising kids. Releasing them out into the world prepared is. Thank goodness we get to do it in stages. First junior high, next the rest of their lives.
What about you? Have your daughters had 'mean girl' experiences? How did you handle it?