Growing up, did you have a popular girl amongst you? I’m not just talking about the girl who ruled the school but the girl that was the “coolest” in your own set of friends. The ring leader. The one that came up with the ideas that no one would say no to? The girl that everyone wanted to hang out with? The chick, that if she snubbed you, ruined your whole day?
It is inevitable that popular girls and peer pressure is going to become a thing in your mind when you’re a twelve year old girl. Or are the caregivers to a twelve year old girl. It is simply inescapable.
In my young life, I think I was fortunate in the fact that I had gone to school with the same group of kids from kindergarten through junior high. We all knew each other for what seemed like forever. But of course, as we grew older, some kids became out casts and others grew in popularity.
When I was twelve I so wanted to be part of the cool group. And luckily since the school was small, I (like to think I) was. The one to be with was a girl we nicknamed Dottie. She was everything that a cool girl would be back in the 80’s: curly blonde hair, blue eyes, bubbly personality, care-free demeanour. She was the girl that had boys throwing themselves at her in junior high (we were between 11 and 13 years old here people). I wanted to be her because at 12, she was doing something I could only dream of dating. She was the creator of drama in our small little drama-less lives. (For instance, in 8th grade she dated one boy then broke up with him to date his cousin.* It was scandalous!) Dottie was the excitement creator in our boring, decision free existences. (Her house was the adult-free house (due to sad circumstances) her older siblings just let us run amok.*) This and a hundred other reasons (that I can no longer remember) is why, everyone wanted to hang out with her.
The good thing was that she wasn’t a mean girl. I wonder, if I spoke to her now, if she was even aware of the sort of power she held over
many of us me.** Nothing I did back then to hang out with her was ever dangerous or completely forbidden by my parents (I just never asked my incredibly strick parents). Nor was it ever suggested by her. I was usually my own master mind in the things that I chose to do.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that I’m not growing up (especially with my parents) now.
Because now, if you’re a parent that is checked-in and following some rules, then you’ve got a lot to contend with. For example Facebook. We’ve been here before with Lil Burs – in primary (elementary) school, she wanted to join and we put the lid on that. She’d have to wait until thirteen – just like it is stated within FB rules. Well, her mother didn’t agree with us and let her join anyway. She did it on the up and up and friended her dad. We explained again why she’d have to end her membership, to which she nodded and verbally agreed. And yet was caught a month later secretly checking it in her room. She was punished and disconnected her membership. We figured with a month of no computer use and the lose of a new computer as a Christmas gift, she’d have learned her lesson. Or at least she said she had, so we believed her.
Now, she’s in secondary (junior high) school. Where ALL of her friends have FB accounts. They also have their own Youtube accounts (where they post videos of themselves singing/dancing – she’s not allowed), twitter accounts (she’s not allowed) and whatever else is cool these days (to be sure, she wouldn’t be allowed). Yes, we’re strict but how else do you teach a kid to follow the rules if you don’t actually make them follow it?!?
And after all, she’ll be thirteen in less than three months now. Surely, if you’ve already suffered a punishment, lost out on a new computer and waited this long…
Well, when she was busted again for having started another Facebook account, as well as, a twitter account – the blame fell to the popular girls. “They tease me for not being on FB and all they wanted to do was tag me in a picture.”
Well, hello peer pressure. So nice to see you again.
As Burs fumed over the fact that she had lied, once again and gone back on FB after countless conversations about why she isn’t allowed. I began to mull over how we should enjoy this simple time. This moment right here, when all the popular girl got her to do was join Facebook and Twitter, is a blessing.
Yup, a blessing.
Because in two/three years time, it’s going to be ‘sneak out of the house’, ‘join me with these two college guys I just met’, ‘steal liquor from your parents cabinet’, ‘don’t make me smoke alone’ and a million other things I can think of. Because I figure that’s what the popular girls are always suggesting and never ‘let’s write this paper three weeks early and get some extra credit.”
Though I hope for the latter.
In this time, before all hell breaks loose, Burs and I are going to prepare for the onslaught of crazy that is surely to come our way; planning lecture after lecture on how she should have her own mind, be strong enough to just say no and be secure in her own skin. Except that I already know all of the fancy words we’ll use will fall on deaf ears. Because nothing outweighs hanging out with the cool chic and being part of the fun. We’ll just have to hope and pray that it all turns out ok.
*I got this information from skimming through my old journal – ok, diary – from back then. From what little I could understand thanks to my handwriting (lots of things dotted with hearts) I didn’t paint her as a mean girl.