105 Ways to Give a Book

Bone-Tired and Dissed

I am bone-tired after a Girl Scout trip to the waterpark Great Wolf Lodge and an extra day with my mom, brother, and niece in Virginia Beach. I got to see my niece for about a day. She’s almost two years old now and so cute. My brother brought her over to my mom’s house and then she spent the night with us there. Sure, she woke me up at 2:00 a.m. and then didn’t sleep past 7:00 a.m., but it was totally worth it.

The overnight trip to Great Wolf Lodge was a big success. Thirteen of my fifteen girls were able to go, plus three other adults to help with driving, food, and overall supervision. I was right in there with the girls on the different water slides, and grabbed a few of them over the day to join me on the scream-inducing Tornado slide.

It was on this Tornado ride that I got to really feel twelve years old again. And not in a good way, though it taught me something important. During our trip, I tried do something with all of the girls. For the most part, the girls were happy to have my company for these short intervals. But the morning we were going to leave, I caught two of the girls and asked if they’d go on the Tornado with me one last time. They agreed, one more reluctantly than the other, and off we went. We walked up the tall tower, waited our turn, and both of them started looking over the side of the staircase away from me. At first I thought that they were looking for some of our other girls, so I asked A. who they were looking for. She said that they were just looking and I said, “Oh.” She must have caught my hurt tone and started talking with me. The other girl, E. wouldn’t turn around. When we were past the staircase, she still would barely talk to me. When the ride was done — I screamed like a little girl — they both bolted; A. was somewhat friendly but E. didn’t acknowledge me at all.

I retreated to the hot tub feeling like I was twelve and had been shunned by the popular girl. True, I had an adult perspective on it, and this girl’s rudeness wasn’t going to affect my social standing in middle school, but I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being left out, dissed and dismissed.

I thought about how reading reminds me of being an insecure teen, but this incident put me right back in the feeling. Let me tell you, it was awful. But truly, how helpful to really understand what my daughter, this troop, all middle-school girls feel. It made me wonder how writers of Young Adult books can get down to that core and make it real.

I’ve also wondered what to do next. I want to talk to the girl, E. I want to talk to her mother. I want to talk to the whole troop about appropriate behavior. I also want to pretend that the whole thing didn’t happen. I did hug my daughter that night, and told her that I understand the plight of being a teen in a new way. I can hope that the experience will make me a better mother, a better troop leader, and maybe even a better writer.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this "personal and somewhat embarassing story to make a point."

You absolutely made the point and as I was reading, those teen-aged feelings of angst were bubbling to the surface. Amazing. No matter how many years pass, they're still there, just underneath all the grown-up layers that make us who we are today.

And that, actually, is my point. (I really do have one!) Because of those tumultuous icky years, I'd like to think I'm a better person for it and I'm going to do everything I can to be sure my daughter learns from it.

Of course, I'm not naive in thinking that's all there is to it. Peer pressure and all the other issues swirling round these girls makes for some difficult days.

Thing is, when I picture the young woman you described looking over the railing and ignoring you, I have to wonder why she doesn't know better. Why those lessons aren't clear to her. If she can do it to a grown-up, then my goodness how is she to someone her own age?


You of all people would know if there are any fiction books out there that might make your point, some way of perhaps incorporating it into a Girl Scout project?

As for you wanting to talk to her and her parents, I so get that. I wonder ... (she scratches her head thinking for a moment) if there isn't some speaker you can have at a meeting -- some sort of strong woman kind of resource (does that even make sense?) that can come and make a fabulous presentation to the girls -- and the lesson be woven into that.

Because something tells me that your talking to the girl might fall on deaf teen-aged years. Because she knows how she treated you and it might feel like a lecture and she'd turn off.

It's all interesting indeed. And being a mom of a little girl, it makes me think long and hard about how to teach her something that, inevitably, her out-of-the-house experiences will hammer at and try to break down.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Gretchen aka mamagigi

tanita✿davis said...

Ow. Crap.
I hate being thrown back into real adolescence, and it's amazing that real live adolescents can do it. (As a YA writer I can tell you that I get back to that core of emotion because my inner child is just still there, close under the skin.)

Certain girls Queen Bee their way through their friends and sort of exude this 'stay in your place' kind of 'tude that, if you're not careful, works both on her peers and on the adults, too. YOU, my dear, didn't stay in your place as Stodgy Mom. You played. You screamed. You acted like you were twelve. Why don't you know any better? Who do you think you are?

Maybe the most valuable lesson you can learn, model and teach from this weekend is that NOBODY has the right to define who you are. "U. B. U." is my little reminder to my sister who is twelve and who struggles with longing to be someone else entirely. THAT is the message you can speak out about to the whole troop that won't seem like it's specific to that girl so that you don't shame her but equip the others to deal with girls like her -- and even equip her to deal with the Bigger Fish she's going to come up against in high school.

Meanwhile, maybe you can socialize with the girl and her mother together sometime -- find out how she deals with Moms in general? It may give you more insight than you expect.

Judy said...

Playing devil's advocate here--is it possible that the girl didn't want to go on the ride again, but did not know how to say no to an adult?

Vivian Mahoney said...

Start writing away, while you remember every bit of angst. It'll be easier to capture the feelings.

Hope you're doing better today.

MotherReader said...

Gretchen and TM, thanks for your words and support. I'm letting myself mull a bit before I tackle it either with the girl, her mother, or my troop. I really appreciate your input. I do want to do something with my troop on this issue, but of course, not at any one person's expense.

Judy, a devil's advocate is always welcome at the party. It keeps everyone clear-headed. in this case, I've had my eye on this girl and some less-than-nice, under-the-radar things she's been doing. It concerns me most that if she can pull this with a grown-up, then the "mean girl" thing is going too far - esp for someone so young.

Judy said...

Good to know, on both counts. Unfortunately, there are a lot of girls (more than boys--they're more upfront with it) out there that have two sides, and one is not nice as well as sneaky, often. Saw a lot of that when I was teaching...and it always made me glad that I only had boys--no girls. Good luck at coming up with the right solution to help the girl grow. I know you will.