Robust was the word a mom (mom #2) on the two day field trip used to describe what three other girls needed to be after an incident occurred between the nine girls sharing a bunk.
The incident was a result of the girls being told to create a cabin skit. The girls quickly divided into the four girls who had an idea – and the four girls who could not get the other four to articulate the idea. One was a floater – loud enough to get heard and funny enough to deflect negative attention. Despite mom #3 and my attempt to get the girls to listen to each other, the situation degenerated into the four bullying the other three causing one of them to cry.
DJ was one of the three. Like me, the situation pissed her off. When they went after her, she stood up to them. Not getting weakness from her, they changed their target to a weaker victim and had her in tears. The floater came and got us after I suggested we let the kids duke it out. She was quite upset with the four who went after the other three – and she even called them bullies when describing the situation.
Mom #3 went in when she heard her daughter was a ring leader. She was not happy – and defused the situation quickly. I had followed because I was not amused. I hate tween girl drama with a passion that is unmatched by most moms. Plus, I am the most direct with the girls – and direct was what these girls needed.
I should mention my annoyance has little to do with the fact DJ was involved. I know DJ, and she can take care of herself. I was annoyed that they went after the girl whose mom left the family when she was five – then got married and started a new family. I know how hard it has been on this girl. I mean, moms don’t leave kids. Or at least that is the way it is supposed to be. The other girl they went after is autistic. I don’t have to say more on that one.
Having gotten into trouble, they finally started working together enough to get the skit together. In the end, they all enjoyed themselves during the skit. But the stress had created a solid division among the girls.
Saturday afternoon, Mom #2, Mom #3 and I are following our group back up to the lodge. I had commented how happy I was that the girls seemed to come together on Saturday – a much better place to be compared to the day before. Mom #3 agreed. And Mom #2 agreed than said, “you know, I’ve decided that it isn’t my daughter’s fault that the other girls aren’t as robust as she is.”
“Robust? So if a girl approaches a situation differently than your daughter, it is because she isn’t as robust?” was my question.
She immediately backpedaled and tried to retract the word but her point was the same. The girls were clearly not as able to deal with situation was her point. Since they didn’t fight back or bowl her daughter over like her daughter does, they are clearly unable to deal with “normal kids stuff”.
Can you say victim blaming?
“Look,” I said, “kids as well as adults need to figure out how to get along with others. But just because a kid has a different communication style does not make them more or less robust than another. And if my kid needs to figure out how to deal with loud and pushy kids, then your kid needs to learn how to work with people who aren’t loud and pushy. That is life – not robustness.”
Mom #3 at this point is pretty quiet. Mom #2 decided to turn the situation to herself. She explained how she thought she knew everything when she was that age too, but as she got older, she realized how little she knew.
“Well, I found my ego as I got older – and discovered that I’m right more than I’m wrong in many situations. It’s funny how we are as adolescence can influence how much we grow as adults.”
They laughed at the way I said it. But, it is the truth. I was just like DJ. I had my own interests. I didn’t act like my peers. I didn’t think like my peers. If they acted like that, I rolled my eyes and walked away instead of trying to get them to listen. I learned early on to just shut up when around certain personality types. The only difference between my approach and DJ’s? She truly doesn’t care what they think. And she will say it. She is dead on with what she says. She just says it in a way that slams them all.
After this discussion with the moms, DJ sat next to me while I was sitting next to other adults. She laid her head on my shoulder. “Why are you not with the other kids?” I asked.
“They are soooo annoying. You know what they said to me yesterday? They told me that I was not part of the group since I was not arguing with them. How mean is that?”
“What did you tell them?”
“I pointed out that they were telling everyone who was doing what – and that it was them that were not including us. But they kept saying that was our problem – not theirs. How can you be in charge of the parts, skip three of us, then tell us it was our fault if she wasn’t doing her job? It was just annoying.”
“Next time someone says you were going to not be part of the group, tell them it is that person who is not being part of the group. They are being excluded, not you. It will kind of mess with them.”
DJ started giggling, “I like that. She would have just been confused by it.”
“I just don’t know why they have to act like this. Who cares if I like things they don’t like. I mean, it’s who I am. I may not get why they like to dance around like idiots, but I’m not mean to them because of it. Why do they have to be like this?”
What I couldn’t tell her was it was because they were allowed to treat people like that. I could not tell them that I discovered that their parents were like that, so they were raising kids like that.
“DJ, you are a kid who gets who you are. They are not. We can only hope they will figure it out. Until then, you just need to keep doing what you are – try to get along, but walk away shaking your head at their stupidity when they are not. It’s all you can do.”
While I am glad my daughter is self aware, it sucks that she has to deal with kids (and their parents) who are not. What’s ironic about this weekend was the fact this was a chance for the kids to push their limits. It was a chance for the kids to learn how to work together to do things. In the end, the ring leaders of the drama in our cabin struggled. DJ and the others? They rocked it. They embraced the challenges while the other girls whined and excluded themselves. I hate seeing this foreshadowing of the things to come for these kids – all of them – but it was. I can only hope their epiphany comes sooner rather than later.
Because they clearly were not demonstrating “robustness”.
Ahh, sweet irony.