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I am sure you were fantastic!! I can relate though to the feelings of insecurity with teenagers. When I was in middle school I had a REALLY bad haircut (aysmeterical cut). That short haircut combined with a round face was a recipe for disaster and all of the boys (and girls, I think) called me "umbrella head." To this day, when I go to the hairdresser I am on guard and only have an inch cut from my shoulder length hair. It's funny how I still carry those middle school insecurities even though I am 3-3 years old! I have two younger sisters who are in middle/high school now and I have noticed that these two intelligent strong girls have also had their self confidence shaken by "mean" girls. It's too bad that these young women don't build each other up but rather break one another. I have vowed that when I am a mother to girls I will work really hard to make sure they don't lose the confidence of their childhood as they age. Life is hard enough without being broken for ridiculous things like bad haircuts!

One more story: I am a lawyer and I presented at a job fair for kids in Harlem two years ago. I thought I had a great presentation (free pens, notepads, glossy brochure). Well the presenter next to me was a minor league baseball player!! NO ONE and I mean no one wanted to hear about being a lawyer (the kids asked questions such as "do you work long hours" answer: yes). It was pretty funny. This is just a way of saying that even if you do have a cool job, in the eyes of a teenager, the job of an athlete may trump all.

Enough said!

Middle school girls don't just hate you, my friend. They hate everything. And everyone. To varying degrees, and sometimes on alternate Tuesdays. When they aren't loving them.

Having both taught and been a middle school (and high school) girl, I remain firmly convinced that from the ages of 12 to about 18, all females suffer from some version of bipolar disorder.

All those hormones, plus identity development issues, plus the constant stream of media images depicting a mere 5 different possible models of feminity, plus sexual experimentation, plus either helicopter or indifferent/abusive parenting, plus sexual harrassment in school and on-line,...no wonder they lash out.

I'm surprised any of us make it through in one piece.

And you know what, since I work with college women, I'm sorry to say that it doesn't end with that graduation walk across the 8th grade stage. They can be astonishingly mean and catty, and emotionally abusive as well. I hear horror stories on a regular basis about cruel roommates, social ostracism, and malicious rumor-spreading. And this is at one of the "finest" institutions of higher education in the world. Wow. Great leadership potential, ladies.

All the "mean girls" related research in the past 10 years has basically asked the same fundamental question: In a (still) male-dominated society, why do we women direct the majority of our hostility towards one another, rather than towards our oppressors?

God, I hated middle school.

Well at least you have a more mature attitude than I. I hated middle school! I hated being an outsider! And believe me, I faced my share of mean girls! Now I have two middle and high school age daughters and am considered the "coolest mom" of the bunch. And I secretely resent the little buggers who admire me for not accepting me all those years ago, as if it's somehow their fault! They weren't even born when I was in middle school!

Horror stories? Wish I could remember some but I went to my "happy place" when my own daughter was that age. LOL She was horrid. Middle school was when I realized that the majority of girls that age are manipulative, catty and just plain horrible. I had mostly guy friends from then on. Honestly even now at 45 there are still women who are that way. argh.

I very good book about girls that age is Reviving Ophelia-Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. It explains a LOT about why they are the way they are.
I think it's a good read weather you are a parent or not.

In a moment of weakness, I volunteered with a math program for eighth graders, so I'll be dealing with three of them once a week until April. It's actually kind of nice to see that they are, in fact, kids--it all seemed so big and deadly serious to me when I was that age. The other plus is that every Thursday morning I get to walk out of a middle school, and even after 34 years, that still feels really, really good.

You should have quoted your own episode of The Shield and said "It's bitches like you that make it hard for the rest of us."


In my Ed Psych class earlier this year, I was blown away when most of the 45+ -person class reported that they had GOOD middle school experiences.

What's crazier? It was the boys who were most traumatized. And many of them found their solace in basketball.

I second what L. said. It wasn't you. It was them. It's aaaaaaaaaaaaaall about them. But don't hesitate next time to consider Nitin's excellent advice.

On the other hand, the next time I talk to a group of middle schoolers, one of them better be mine.

That's good.

I don't have a horror middle story, I do remember the dirty looks that I got when I didn't understand how to play some of the games for gym. I hated gym.

And as for being teased about developing late, I always figured those girls would be most likely to be kidnapped than myself. Of course I didn't tell them that.


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