Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Girls Will Be Girls"

At a recent end-of-season celebration for Daughter's x-country team, two boys stood up, and each gave a gift to two of three coaches. For the third coach, four girls stood up to give one gift; of course, only one of them spoke. Quietly.

Later in the week, at a high school play, the girls, naturally, walked around the theatre in groups, looking for seats, friends, or to be seen. [Except that being seen would be difficult because they all looked and dressed the same.] A boy or two occasionally puppy-dogged behind.

Then it seems that every weekend, Daughter tells me she needs something new: jeans, sweats, boots, ballet flats and so on. My instincts tell me this is because Emily or Alison (of her school pod) came to school with something new.

Ladies. When are you going to stand on your own?

I don't know the answer, but JoAnn Deak in Girls Will Be Girls is going to tell me. This book is a great resource for better understanding the physical and emotional development of girls--in other words, why they do the silly things they do.

JoAnn (I use the first-name familiar because she is such a good friend to me--even though we've never met) refers to the group thing as "amoebas" and the "cocoon of cliques". She says that "surrounding oneself with those who look alike, talk alike, and act alike makes the world feel safer and allows movement away from the influence of significant adults to be more comfortable." Makes sense.

JoAnn goes on to assure me that around age 14, the cocoon starts to feel suffocating, and our girls affiliate themselves with groups (boys and girls) having common interests. Preparing for a more adult like existence, perhaps? By a girl's senior year, she accepts everyone, regardless of social standing or interests. "Teachers and parents temporarily regain their status. It is a very emotional and holistic time."

This information isn't really new to me. I lived it once. But where's the book on how to have enough patience and understanding to get me from now to then? How do I can I bite my tongue when she leaves the house skinny jeans or baggy sweats tucked into UGG boots--just like every other 12-year-old in the school?

Some days I can; some I can't. So on those days I'm really stumped, I visit that wise JoAnn. She helps me realize that everything is on track, normal, and complicated.

People make jokes about how some people need a manual for parenting. But that's me, and hopefully it will get Daughter and me through the tricky years without too many scars, piercings, tattoos, or bright hair colors.

(450 words)


  1. Funny, my oldest is 6 and doesn't seem to give a hoot what others think or require their company. She wants my attention of course but she can take or leave her classmates and wears what she wants. So far, anyway...

  2. My experience is that that will change. If it doesn't, you got lucky!

  3. This weekend my 12-yr old daughter changed the look of her room: down came the posters of animals & nature, and up went TWILIGHT, yikes! -- what's next?

  4. Of course you never did any of these things