My poor little girl (aka Worm), who I’ve already mentioned in a previous post and apparently talk about incessantly, is already experiencing a little pre-teen drama and she’s only 7-years-old. According to Worm, another girl in her gymnastics class is mean to her, telling her that she doesn’t do things right, telling her that the teacher doesn’t like her, and giving her the “stink eye.” I asked, “Is she just mean to you, or is she mean to everybody?” Worm says, “She’s mean to everybody.” Aw, man. Here it goes.
Why are there girls like this? I’m sure someone with more knowledge about child development and psychology could tell me about insecurity issues and unwitting parental mistakes that have molded this little brat into the venomous demon that she is. I can call her a venomous demon because she’s being mean to my Worm, and I have that right.
So, in the interest of trying to help my little Worm deal with The Venomous Demon, as well as prepare myself for years of adolescent torture that no doubt the Worm will have to face eventually, I got a book recommended to me by a friend called Queen Bees and Wannabes that is all-encompassing about the crap we all have to deal with in middle school, from being bullied to finding your place in the social hierarchy, and what you can do and say (as well as NOT do and say) to help your daughter get through it. While I listen to this book during my morning commute, I can’t help but relive my past, suffering near PTSD-like flashbacks of my middle school years. When I think about those years of my life my lips curl back as though I’ve just had a shot of Wild Turkey and I develop an eye tic that lingers for a few minutes.
The author of this guide classifies pre-teens into five or six categories within the cliques they form, such as the obvious Queen Bee, the sidekick (the vice Queen Bee, really), the Banker (she keeps track of everyone and their transgressions against the Queen Bee), the Messenger (forms alliances with other cliques and conveys messages from the Queen Bee and settles disputes), and, my personal favorite and probably the category that describes my role as a 12-year-old, the Innocent Bystander. Of course, there are also Wannabes.
But, as always, my thoughts turn to derby. I can’t help but ask, do we still have cliques, even into adulthood? Do groups of girls naturally form cliques their entire lives? I think maybe we do. I don’t think it’s intentional, but I think it’s a natural result of how girls relate to one another. The difference is I don’t think as grown-ups we’re exclusive, and I don’t think we’re cliquish to point of being nasty to those outside the group. I was thinking I could form this post around the different categories of derby girls, like the author of the Queen Bee book, but as I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with any categories. Well, maybe I stretch the truth a bit – perhaps there are a few stereotypes, and there are definitely wannabes. I think we’ve all seen that. But when I tried to list five or six derby “types,” I couldn’t come up with categories. We’re all just ourselves, or in the process of discovering ourselves, and that makes us indefinable.
Derby has allowed me to grow out of my distaste for women in groups. I’ve never flocked to groups of girls. In fact, the idea of any activity involving large groups of women cooperating to achieve a goal gives me instant diarrhea. This is why I had to drop out of being a Girl Scout leader. Derby’s different – and I think it’s probably due to the fact that not many of us were Queen Bees. We were Innocent Bystanders, at best, and most likely not even that. Derby doesn’t attract Queen Bees. It attracts the opposite, really, and perhaps that’s why we all high-five each other so much: we finally realize how awesome we are.
I hope that my little Worm can make it through middle school intact and mostly unscathed, but I’m afraid that’s probably wishful thinking on my part. I’m going to try to help her through it as best I can. Adolescence was really hard on me (isn’t it hard on us all?), but I did actually make some close friends, and if I can do it, I know she can too. My hope for her is that when she’s an adult is she understands herself to know what she wants out of relationships, romantic and otherwise. It took me way too long to figure that out. When I finally did, I finally felt confident enough to be myself, let others know that I am who I am, and if they don’t like it they can go suck an egg. I had a sparkle of that before derby, but derby nurtured it and brought that attitude to the forefront. I think that if I can take my derby catharsis and convey it to the Worm early in life, maybe that’ll give her confidence when some Venomous Demon tells her she’s not good enough. She is good enough. We all are.