Friday, September 10, 2010

I am twelve.

Are you?

I just finished The Curse of the Good Girl in preparation for the author's talk here Monday. It was not as all-out scary as Odd Girl Out but it riled me up just the same.

The thing is, American girls are raised to keep the peace. We avoid conflict. We smooth things over. If we voice our opinions with candor and conviction we are called bitches. I am so done with this.

Have you ever heard a girl say something along the lines of, "No offense but that shirt doesn't match those shorts." No offense means that the recipient of this barb shouldn't be mad at the nasty girl whose mouth it came out of even though it clearly is an insult.

One Saturday night last fall I was at a party. The previous night many of the same people, myself included, were at another party. Of course the antics from the former came up at the latter. I should have spoken up and said, "Hey. Let's not relive this in front of people who weren't there." But I didn't. And I've regretted it ever since.

On my Febmom list this topic recently came up. Tory, so sage from her expat vantage point in Hong Kong, said it well: inside each of us is a 12-year-old girl.

I recently ran into a woman I have known since my teens. She is professionally successful and tall and blond and smart and thin and has lovely children and a nice husband. She is twelve, too. And she did the right thing in the situation she faced: she confronted the Mean Mommy in the most textbook perfect of ways. It didn't work and she is still hurt by it. Still she did the right thing and I applaud her for it. This stuff is hard.

I think about the friend I confronted a year ago over a Part-Time Friend Situation between our daughters. I would never have looked at the woman the same again had I not brought it up. I had nothing to lose: our relationship never would have recovered otherwise.

Today I met with Simone Marean and the team at our middle school who will welcome Rachel Simmons. During the course of the event walk through, which I took control of in my usual let's-be-efficient-and-decisive-style, I briefly paused and said, "Am I being too bossy?" Simone looked at me and said, "Curse of the Good Girl." I laughed. She was right.

Why does this 12-year-old emerge from time to time? Will putting on our big girl panties and doing hard things like speaking our minds with confidence banish her?


Sara said...

I am twelve for a different reason - I'm actually looking forward to the new iCarly episode tonight on nick which will feature Jane Lynch as Sam's mom - such prefect casting!

Polka Dot Moon said...

I want to read this book. Maybe I need a few dozen copies......I know quite a few women who could stand to read this as well.

Ron Hutzul said...

Thank you Leslie - for keeping me on top of these sorts of things! As a Daddy, I know it's UBER important for me to be aware, understand and behave in a way that constantly reinforces my little girl's self confidence and awareness in hopes that I can help contribute to her becoming an independent women one day - without a 12 year old girl inside...