As I listened to the exchanged stories of “she said, she said” by my daughter and her friends, I was reminded of my own experiences in the female middle school social torture chamber. Yet, in my day we didn’t have the distractions of cell phones, computers or the Internet. It was raw communication at its best.
If there was a conflict, you didn’t read about it online or via text message. It was face-to-face confrontation and the chosen victim didn’t know about it until reaching her social group prior to class. It was an isolating and completely unnecessary ritual.
The Queen Bee dynamic is an awful adolescent social experience. Unfortunately, most girls must tough it out. My question is, why? Why the meanness? How can someone who was once their friend say such hurtful things? They ignore one another. They gang up on each other. They talk about each other behind their backs. They exclude one another. Yet, in most cases, they resolve it on their own and go about their day. Yes, this is middle school friendship.
Years ago, I made the mistake of jumping the gun and contacting parents, only to realize the girls made up on their own and harsh words were forgotten within days. It caused some friction between myself and a few other adults. As the weeks went on, I came to realize the girls' stories weren’t entirely accurate ... more like fabricated. Lesson learned. From that moment on, I made a commitment not to get involved with the Queen Bee dynamics.
I look at my daughter and realize she’s much stronger than I was at her age. She’s able to voice the injustices, the unkindness or the meanness she sees in others. If something isn’t right, or someone isn’t being treated fairly, she’s not afraid to say so. Unfortunately, it often squeezes her out of her circle from time to time. I’m also not blind. I know she’s a socially crazed 12-year-old with a mouth that doesn’t stop. Yet, when the familiar stories of Queen Bee dynamics pop up, tears are shed and feeling are certainly hurt. As a parent, it’s heart wrenching seeing her go through it.
I found familiarity and experience come in handy. When all this social girl garbage started escalating, I sat down with her. I told her about my own experiences in middle school and how socially awkward and often challenging it was. The group of girls I socialized with were fun, active and boy crazy ... similar to her group. Yet, our Queen Bee seemed to “choose” a person each week to be angry with. There was no reason for it, just to test the waters of power.
All the other girls would follow her lead, leaving the outed victim dazed and confused. It was like weekly social Russian roulette. This was nearly thirty years ago, and I still wonder, “What the hell was that all about anyway?” My only regret, looking back, is not having the strength to stand up to the nonsense.
Giving our kids a link to their experiences and feelings with our own is important. They need to know you’re there for them and they're not alone in their world. I remind her that she can leave, find new friends, life is short and friendship is a gift that’s earned and nurtured, not dissected.