Friday started off like a normal day. Charlie and I woke up, ate some breakfast…I got some work done while Charlie watched a little Curious George. We sat down and read some books (translation: I read a book to Charlie while he played with toys or his own book, and may or may not have been listening to me), and played with some pots and pans.

Then we decided to go to the park.

There is a school next to the park we walk to, and they must have some kind of summer program going. When we got out there, a few groups were playing tag, and a big group was hitting balls around on the tennis court. Charlie was, of course, immediately drawn to the activity on the court, so we headed up there.

Like I said, it seemed like a normal day…and then, WHAM! I’m suddenly thrown back into Junior High…I’m awkward, not so popular, and very busy conforming to the “I’m a non-conformist” way of adolescent life.

As we came closer to the tennis courts, I noticed two groups of adolescent girls hanging out by a patch of trees. When I saw a girl go from one group to the other, say something while making a few snarky looking gestures, then return to her home group, I immediately got a sick feeling in my stomach.

This is a scene I (and a million other girls) know all too well. Somebody says something. Somebody else finds out about it. A friend of somebody says something to another somebody, and suddenly there is line drawn with two very vicious groups of somebodies on each side.

I don’t know if you know this, but girls in their early teens can be more vicious than freaking crocodiles. Just wait till you hear what they were arguing about.

As we got a little closer to the tennis courts, I couldn’t help but try to listen in on the battle of words. I couldn’t exactly pick up what they were fighting about, but I did hear the word “vampire” venomously spat out a few times.

These girls were fighting about vampires. Most likely, they were fighting about Wampires, but it really doesn’t matter. My point is that a junior high girl can turn something as innocent as a baby kitten into a reputation-shattering event.

It doesn’t matter what side your on, what your social status is, or who your parents are. Girls say terrible things to each other and those things hurt. And, please, don’t think I’m launching into a “I was unpopular and I’m mad at the popular girls so I’m using my blog as revenge” rant…Popular kids are mean to other popular kids, just like unpopular kids can be equally as mean to the other unpopular kids. I know I’ve done my share of being mean, and am no exception. When you’re starting to grow up, you know what hurts, and since the people around you are also growing up, you’ve got the inside scoop on how to obliterate anybody’s feelings.

As a mother, this terrifies me. I don’t know exactly what it’s like for boys, but I know they can be just as mean to each other. It seems to me, that it might be even worse…what with all the manhood and machismo getting flung around.

So I’m making a plea to my fellow parents: Please teach your children to be kind. Please teach them that each person is fighting a personal battle, and that we’re all in this together. The last thing we need right now is for us to be kicking each other while we’re down.

I know I’ve got readers who are parents: How do you guys deal with this? How do you plan on handling your kids’ social dilemmas?

You know, you don’t even have to be a parent…How did you deal with this when you were growing up?

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