Friday, November 14, 2008

Pre-Teen Girl Meanness and Popular Culture

Okay. You're about to hear me confess to something homeschoolers would like to keep a lid on. My child is not properly socialized. Yup. It's true. You see, she's having some trouble with the other girls at gymnastics. Except G. She likes G. No, G doesn't homeschool and, yes, G is an age mate. She also likes Z, who is 16 and does homeschool.

Just for the record, she also likes I of the broken thumb and toe very well and J, C, S and the other S pretty well, too, none of whom homeschool and who vary in age from 7 - 10. However, the rest of the initials are at a different level, and, thus, Davan doesn't hang out with them at gymnastics anymore.

What is the trouble with getting along with the girls in her group? Movies, for one. The girls all talk about the latest movie and how great it is. We don't go to movies. We rarely rent them. We don't seem to find a lot of them that we like enough to spend out time on. So, when the girls are talking movies, Davan is left out because she doesn't know the movies. Apparently, this happens with most of their conversations. Movies was just the example Davan gave.

Another reason for not getting along is that Davan doesn't like to goof off. Bizarre, I know, but when her coach tells her to focus and not play with that foam disk because they only have 20 minutes on vault and then goes to spot girls in another line, Davan wants to actually vault, not play with the foam disk, unlike the other girls. She says she doesn't try to police the girls, but she has tried pointing out when it's someone's turn - "In a minute." - she's also tried just going if no one else does - "Hey! You're cutting!"

Davan also tells me that 4 hours, 3 times a week is just a lot of time to spend with girls that you aren't really close with. True.

The worst thing, though, is M. M is mean. Davan told me that she doesn't like M very much, but then let it go. Tonight, though, another mom was telling me that her daughter, S ("S is okay most of the time," reports Davan), has been telling her how mean M is. M is mean to everyone. S told her mom that M was so mean to Davan one day that Davan cried.

I was a little surprised that Davan didn't tell me about this. Then, though, I realized that when Davan was telling me about not liking some of the girls, I was kind of exasperated with her and asked her to list who she did like. I guess she felt she wouldn't be well received if she did tell me about it.

I tried asking her in the car on the way home how she's getting along with the other girls. She reported the above issues, other than M. I've seen the whole goofing off vs not myself and the movie thing just makes sense. I prompted her rather bluntly, "How is M?"

"M is...okay," she reluctantly replied.

"Is she mean sometimes?"

"Yes," with some relief and regret.

"To you particularly or to everyone?"


"How is she mean?"

"She's just kind of harsh. It's hard to explain."

The conversation drifted and we got home and were settling in when I asked her point blank, "Has M been so mean to you that she's made her cry?"

"No," shaking her head, "Why do you ask?"

I explained about S telling her mom that M had made Davan cry. "No, Mom, I haven't cried about anything M's done."

"Can you give me an example of one of the mean things M says?"

She related this story: They were in line for tumbling and M turned to Davan, who was right behind her in line and said, "You shouldn't be right behind me. You should be farther back in line because you're not as good as me." Do you think M's mom and dad would be upset if I slapped their kid up a bit?

S told her mom about this encounter: M was doing something different than what the girls had been told to do. S said to her, "You're supposed to be doing what the rest of us are doing." M replied, "Don't talk to me," totally seriously.

I find all of this rather frustrating. It's why I always say that if I were going to put Davan in school, it would not be middle school. These girls are all in about the 10-12 year old range, with the exception of Z. The nasty clickish sort of years.

Davan will see the season out. We've paid for it already and she does love it. Then, we'll have to make some choices. Pursuing Do Jump is a real possibility - her teacher is happy to recommend her for trying out for their performance troop and Do Jump does seem to attract more sorts of kids that are no so...typical. Or, I could still see her going to the developmental team. They are a smaller group that works hard and does not appear to tolerate social back bitting. Or, we could check out another gym and see what sort of group she'd be with there. I don't think I'd be comfortable with her staying with this same group, though. Her coach is a very nice woman with great gymnastics teaching skills, but there is too much other stuff going on.


  1. Hey, thanks for popping over to my (severely neglected) blog, and so leading me to yours. I'm really enjoying reading here :)

    My 12 year old neice (who is homeschooled) is in volleyball through the local public school. She has similar issues with the girls in the group. One of them keeps insisting she "stinks" and doesn't want to stand near her, just really nasty overall.

    I think kids between the ages of 9 and.. oh 30 or so, are so nasty because they're making sense of social classes and trying to secure their place in one. Throw in some hormonal chaos and the general realization that life isn't fair, and you've got a bunch of really grumpy people looking for a reason to make other people as miserable as they are. It's actually scientifically proven that human brains are hardwired to link up with other like-minded people and exclude (or even persecute) others outside of that mindset. And unfortunately, arrogant, judgemental people tend to raise arrogant, judgemental children. Thankfully, decent, open-minded, caring folks raise kids too.

    I hope you can find another gymnastics class that isn't filled with snotty little witches for next year :)

  2. Thanks for coming over and commenting. I love comments. :)

    I also appreciate the words of support about the unpleasantness.