Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mean Girls (the early years)

I wrote a few weeks ago about how kids satrt noticing what other kids wear around age 2, after The Dictator wanted a Dora Knapsack like all the other kids in her music class.

Today, I realized that girls become mean at age four.

That's right. Four.

How do I know this? Because today, hanging out at the Club, in Scottsdale Arizona, where I'm hanging with The Dictator, I saw Mean Girls (the early years) in action.

Kayla was about 5 years old. She had long beautiful brown hair and brown eyes. She was hanging at the kiddy pool with her friend, Meagan, who was about four years old. Meagan was, as the fiance says, "a piece of work."

I would describe her as a spoiled brat, but she was also very pretty and very outgoing. And then there was The Dictator, two years old. For some reason, 5 year-old Kayla took a liking to The Dictator and said, "I'm going to play with you now." To which The Dictator said, "Yah!" Then they jumped around and Kayla gave her a ride on her back in the pool.

Well, this just put Meagan in a foul mood. "You can't be friends with her and me," said Meagan. Then Meagan turned to The Dictator and said, "Who do you want to be friends with? Me or her?" pointing at herself and Kayla. To which The Dictator responded, "Yah!"

She respnded "Yah!" because The Dicatator is too young - thank god! - to understand the politics of girl friendships and had no idea what Meagan was saying.

Meanwhile, the mothers were tanning and gossiping and relaxing. Which I didn't have a problem with, because I was trying to do the same thing. However, if I was at a pool and it was my daughter saying, "You have to pick which one you want to be friends with," I would have at least said something like, "You can all be friends," or broken out into song like, "What the world needs now, is love sweet love."

I mean, if girls these days are mean at age 4 and 5, what does that say about what they're going to be like when they're 13?

On the one hand, I was happy that The Dictator held her own and continued playing with them, but on the other hand, I was like, "I'm not sure if I want The Dictator hanging around such girls."

Or maybe I'm just overreacting. I know that BFF stands for Best Friends Forever. And I also know that when I ask The Dictator who her best friend is, she always says, "Water is my best friend."

I know that "water" will not always be her best friend and that one day, sooner than I want, she'll be making and breaking friendships in less than five minutes. Sigh.


Blogger chichimama said...

Yep, my firends who have older girls say that 4 is the turning oint, how scary is that? It makes me hysterical to think A is going to be trying that crap in two years.

3:48 PM

Blogger Heather said...

I think this will be a difficult issue for you throughout you daughters life. Granted, most kids say the most awful things. They just need guidance, I agree.
On the other hand,just a few weeks ago you wanted to buy your daughter designer jeans. Where will that trend take her? "I don't like you because you shop at (insert cheap clothing store here)".
I'm not saying I'm raising the perfect child, but I fear what you speak of, and prepare for it daily.

5:31 PM

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, this breaks my heart. I'm so, so worried about the harsh realities of Mean Girls and Bad Boys for WonderBaby. I know that she'll get her heart broken, will encounter unfriendly people, and will have to grapple with tweentard bitches in the school yard. I know that this is all inevitable, but I hate it.

But I love that the Dictator's best friend is water.

6:18 PM

Blogger Bahar said...

Meagan wis probably a brat, but jealousy doesn't know age. She was probably jealous of the Dictator!

I experienced that when I was 4 or 5! My mom would buy expensive toys for my cousins (they were rich) and only clothes for me on my birthday. I started crying and asking her to buy me a toy like that, too and she kept saying it wasn't my birthday!

Well, I wanted cool toys, too. But instead I would get "practical" gifts that were in no way cool!

I was jealous. I cried and I ruined my cousin's birthday. I am ashamed of it, but I am only human!

6:27 PM

Blogger Sheena said...

I've never liked the name Kayla. It reminds me of that blonde dumpy chick from Days of Our Lives about 10 years ago.

6:51 PM

Blogger Bahar said...

Rebecca, see my new post.

8:08 PM

Anonymous Naomi said...

4 years old, eh? Wow. The kids I see in high school have had a long time to perfect their attitudes then.

I think this makes me very glad I have a boy.

6:01 AM

Anonymous Naomi said...

Reading this makes me glad I have a boy.
Not that boys don't have their own issues.

It also tells me that the kids I teach in high school have had a very long time to perfect their attitudes. Yikes!

6:03 AM

Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Perhaps I'm being naive (oldest DD just turned 3) or have been too often the victim of Mean Girls, but I just can't accept that this is just how girls are. They have to be taught these beastly traits, surely.

That Meagan was an overindulged, self-absorbed little creep and I'd look closely at her Mum to see where it came from.


6:54 AM


My daughter who is 13 has 'mean girl' issues on a daily basis. She takes it all in stride but I know there are some days when she finds it tough. She likes harmony and sometimes amongst her piers that just isn't possible. I just keep telling her to be kind and to treat others like you want to be treated.

7:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh for Gawd's sake, the kid is four years old. Cut her some slack. She's not necessariy evil, jealous or a brat. She's just a kid in need of a parent to intervene.

News flash to all you mommies worried about your kids getting picked on: You also have to worry about your kids doing the picking on. Yes, that,s right sometimes mommy's little angel is not so nice when mommy isn't there or isn't looking!

9:58 AM

Blogger Kristen said...

It's sad that Mean Girls are allowed to be mean by their mommies, who were probably Mean Girls in thier day.

I've come across my share of Mean Girls, been a Mean Girl once or twice, and also my share of Bad Boys. I agree with 2badladies-I hate the inevitability of it all. It will happen. I wish I could shelter her! LOL

12:16 PM

Blogger Kristen said...

And Rebecca, I'm posting something today, just for you!

12:17 PM

Blogger sunshine scribe said...

So cute that water is her best friend.

Mean girls start young and their power is heartbreaking. I have a boy and even he's felt the scorn of the mean girls at the park. It feels like girls today are way worse than we were to.

Sounds like Rowan's got the kind of mom that could take 'em all on if she needs to :)

6:30 PM

Blogger kittenpie said...

well, yeah, mean girls can't be totally avoided, but I love how some kids manage to let it roll off and not play into it. See Chag's newest post at ** - it is on his wee girl's encounter with a neighbouring mean girl, and I loved that she seems to get that you don't have to go panting after their attention and playing into their hands. And he totally modelled it for her too. I hope pumpkinpie will be so confident too when her day comes.

8:07 PM

Blogger Julia B said...

I hate to admit, but I was a mean girl in High School. Not to everyone, but there was definitely a pecking order and I was glad I wasn't on the bottom. There were a couple of girls who I was mean to, and there were a few more who were mean to me. And there were girls who were my best friends and I would do anything for. I would have said I was a nice person, and I know my Mum thought I was.

Nowadays, my boyfriend says I get too sarcastic when I'm stressed, but that's about it. I would never do the cruel things to people now what I used to in High School. I think once you get to a certain age, you realise how little it was worth, and how much you might have hurt people. It's all a growth thing, and kids get over it.

7:02 AM

Blogger Jenn said...

I've discovered boys can be mean at that age too. My oldest is in Jr. Kindergarten, and while girls are learning to be mean with pettiness and gossip - boys are learning to be mean by kicking, biting and suckerpunching.
Luckily my big boys (newly 5, and almost 4) both say that their best friend is each other. Brothers for life. I actually hope it stays that way.

4:41 PM

Blogger Michele said...

On this subject, I want to recommend the book "Queen Bees and Wannbees" by Rosalind Wiseman. All about mean girls and how and why.
There is a sequel, "Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads" about how, unfortunately, mean girls grow up to be mean women.

So glad I have boys...

11:54 AM

Anonymous krista said...

I'm happy to have boys as well, but the same kind of stuff goes on with boys, it's just under the guise of macho-ness and open competetion.

5:55 AM


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