Navigating Junior High….

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“These years are so precarious…” I told the doll. “Why does it have to be like this?” She asked, not happy with my answer. “Because they do.” I replied not really giving her a good answer-just the only one I had.

******

“Marsha junior high is hell. I hope your doll fares better than mine” A woman told me three years ago. “What do you mean?” I asked. Her daughter was always one of the more popular girls. From the outside I saw a very happy, well-adjusted, beautiful, kind and respectful young lady. “Because girls are bitches. If they perceive any kind of threat-real or imagined, they make your life a living hell. My daughter’s been in therapy the last year and a half-learning how to deal with all these mean girls. Her life should not be this difficult at her age” Her mom explained.

I’ve kept that information in the back of my mind and have been wary of junior high ever since; trying to make sure my doll doesn’t fall into those same traps.

******

Jenny and her mom arrived at my house early Saturday evening. I was in the middle of making dinner and invited them in. The girls sat across from one another, while Jenny’s mom boxed in one of the corners. As I stood at the stove, making fajitas shells I invited the doll to begin “Thanks for coming…” the doll said before nerves gave way to a contagious laughter between the girls. “I’m not sure where to begin…” the doll started…trying to get her nerve up. “Why don’t you start at the beginning-the reason you asked to have this meeting” I suggested. “Um, okay…well the reason I wanted to talk with you is because there are some things you have done that I don’t understand…” the doll began and listed her reasons. Jenny listened and offered explanations and or apologies when needed. Satisfied with Jenny’s answers, the doll turned the conversation by asking her “Do you have anything you want to say to me?”

*Crickets*

“You know, one of the reasons we’re here is because the doll is your friend and she wants you to remain hers.” Her mother said. “But that cannot happen unless you talk with her”.  “In addition” I interjected, “she’s fully prepared to hear what you have to say.” Jenny not sure where to start sat there quietly gathering her thoughts. Then Jenny’s mom then took the reigns and said, “You know your Aunt B and I have been best friends since we were five years old. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get into fights every now and again. Friendship has a lot of give and takes…but you must be willing to talk to one another or you’ll lose your friendship”.

“Well…” Jenny began and the two talked out some of their differences. “I never wanted you to feel as if I’m not your friend. I know what it’s like to believe no one likes you-or that you just don’t fit in. I don’t want anyone to ever have that feeling” My doll said (which literally broke my heart). Once the girls finished talking and seemed to relax with one another again, I offered my two cents as a way of putting an end to the event. “You know I have two very good friends from when I was younger, both of which I hardly see anymore. But that’s okay. I talk with them on Facebook and sometimes we go out to lunch and laugh about all the crap we went through when we were your age. And guess what? We’re all okay. We still like each other, we still consider one another friends”.

“These years are so precarious…” I began. “Why is that Mom?” “Because they are…” I said, not really offering her an answer. Shaking her head she asked “I don’t get it. What makes them so difficult?” the doll asked. “Hormones” I said and both girls laughed. “Mom hormones are your answer for everything” the doll replied.  “That’s because it’s true…” Jenny’s Mom concurred. “Hormones make girls and boys act really weird around each other. A girl might get mad at you because a boy looked at you in a way she would like to be seen by him or a boy might “like” you but get mad because you won’t talk to him. Hormones can really put a wicked spin on everything in junior high.”

“I talked with a principal a few years back when we entertained the idea of sending the boy to a different school. She explained to me that 6-8th grade were the hardest years of school because there are so many roadblocks, traps and landmines set for kids to fall into. By the time you get to 9th grade, you kind of know who you are and once you find friends with similar interests, then you’re pretty much set for the rest of high school. But navigating junior high can be very tricky”. Looking at both girls I added, “You’ve already experienced seemingly nice girls becoming…well bitches right?” Both girls nodded. “I don’t think they woke up one morning and decided to be mean to you… but I think maybe the competition to be liked by others can sometimes be a driving force. What you two have to do is remain yourselves, continue to talk with one another when bad feelings arise and don’t let petty jealousy or competition consume you”.

When all was said and done, the girls made arrangements for a sleepover that evening at Jenny’s. After they left I looked over at the doll and said, “How do you think that went?” Truthfully she shrugged her shoulders. “Huh?” I said. “What? I’m glad we got to talk this out…but I think time will really tell at school…” she said before vacating the room.

Yes time (and hormones) will tell…

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