Mean girls

gift tray

Mia and I had a row today.
She acted totally out of character and then I acted totally out of character and shouted at her.
Really shouted. Lost my cool.
She slammed all the doors in the house to storm off to her room. And I sat downstairs and felt like a total and utter heel.
I let her wind up up into a tight coil and then *ping* I unravelled.

I shouted for her to go to her room. I just can’t stand to be around her. Which she did, but when I sit and take stock and listen I can hear her sobbing. Actual sobbing. Gasping for breath, muffled every now and again as she obviously buries her head in her pillow.
And I felt like a total and utter heel.

There’s nothing in the Parenting Manual about that is there?
There is nothing about keeping your cool when an issue raises its head and you’re so shocked by it your only reaction is to shout like some demented banshee.

Today Mia did something at school that totally appals me. She took her lovingly crafted party invites into class and handed them out to every excited child. The whole class. Except one. She left one girl out. In front of everyone else.
My girl was the mean girl.

The girl she left out lives just around the corner from us. She plays here all the time. There are issues with the friendship, but even so, as far as I’m concerned Mia crossed a line.
And I think my reaction was more from shock than anything else. And the fact that she was so blasé about it.
My girl is the mean girl.

After a couple of hours she appears in the doorway with a tray. A cup of tea, a muffin surrounded with fresh berries and a handmade bunch of flowers.
Bosh, straight to my heart. She knows me oh so well.

We talk about what she’s done, the consequences of her actions etc etc
We do a little role play to replay the incident, me hoping when she sees it in the cold light of day she too will be appalled with it.
But I don’t know how much of it went in. How much of it she’s taken onboard. She is adamant that what she has done isn’t as bad as I’m making out.
Seriously, WHO is this child? And why is she acting in a manner so alien to me?

I’m looking for any help or advice here, because I absolutely want to nip this in the bud right here, right now.
She wails and cries and shows real emotion to begin with, but then the barriers go up and she’s all “what do I care?”, “so not bothered” etc etc.
She’s such a gorgeous, caring, polite girl, but there is this side to her I don’t recognise AT ALL. And, of course, like all good parents, I feel like it must be my fault somehow; something I’m doing wrong. Somehow I’ve failed.

Life as a parent isn’t all Instagram pictures and home baking. It’s bloody tough. Those toddler years are seeming like a walk in the park at the moment!

* NOTE: I actually wrote this before we went on holiday, about four weeks ago, and have sat on it ever since wondering whether to post it or not.
But it’s a big black cloud over our lives at the moment and I really do genuinely want advice from anyone who has been through this or has anything to offer. 

 

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44 Responses to Mean girls

  1. Kerry says:

    Do you think there’s a chance she might be holding back on something this girl has done to upset her?

    • Tara says:

      I know everything this girl has done to upset her Kerry. It's all a bit she said, he said. Just typical girl stuff. And they both give as good as they get. This was definitely a revenge thing – but so so very mean
      My recent post Mean girls

  2. TheMadHouse says:

    Tara,

    I feel your pain, I really do. I suffer this with MIni. I was a very emotional child (good and bad). We say that MIni's emotions run close to the surface, the good ones and the bad ones. It is like looking in to a mirror with him sometimes and I really fear what he is going through. It took me a long time to control my emotions and I worry that Mini will experience what I did as a child.

    We seem to have a dangerous chemical reaction when we both hit boiling point. We both lash out and hurt each other. It is horrible, it is raw and it leaves me feeling utterly desolate.

    So, I don't have any answers, but will be watching with interest

    • Tara says:

      So sorry to hear this Jen. It's bloody hard isn't it? So bloody hard. I'm naturally a really calm, patient and forgiving person, but she is pushing my buttons like they've never been pushed before! At 8. Oh dear lord the teenage years; we'll be here sobbing into our keyboards even then won't we?!
      My recent post Mean girls

  3. Tara, no matter how well raised, our children will do things to shock us. And sometimes we are so shocked, we too then act in a shocking way. Then the thing becomes a hot topic, meaning every time it comes up it will always lead to an explosive argument.

    We have all been there.

    Advice?

    Apologise for the part you played in this unhappy situation, then ask your child to tell you why she thinks you might be so upset about what has happened. They often know, but choose to hide behind the camouflage of the parental argument rather than address the real issue. The real issue being what she did was a mean thing to do.

    Oh, and stop beating yourself up. It's no bad thing your daughter saw you lose your cool. That too should signal to her the enormity of her actions.

    Good luck!

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  4. Tara says:

    Thanks for this Mel. You're absolutely right she hides behind the argument; she always does this and I've never thought of it this way before. *Takes calming breaths*
    My recent post Mean girls

  5. Dawn says:

    "I love you even if…"
    We are genetically programmed to connect everything that happens in childhood to love. It's a survival thing from the caveman days where if we didn’t have a bond with our mother then we would die because we wouldn’t be fed etc. Whilst the caveman rules don’t apply any more, there is a part of us that still needs to connect everything to love.
    We are all human. We all get emotional, lose our tempers, act in the heat of the moment. It’s what makes us human. In that emotional haze our ability to think is also disengaged (that gets in the way of survival too!) and we just react. Afterwards, when our brain reengages, we look on things with hindsight and regret our actions with a misguided belief that we could have acted differently. But that’s just a trick of the brain. Hindsight only exists after. Not at the time. You did all you could do in that moment.
    It’s an important lesson for kids to learn that we all are human and lose our temper sometimes.
    The trick, and the thing that takes the long term significance out of it, is to make sure it is not connected to love.
    You *know* without any doubt that nothing she does or says or you do and say means you love her any less. You love her just as much whatever. The survival part of her brain doesn’t know that. That part of her brain is looking to learn a lesson – a lesson on what it all means to love – so she can adapt and survive.
    So the simple trick is to use the phrase “I love you even if…” and not only when you’ve done something but all the time. When you’re laughing, when they have a messy face, when they burp, when they tell you they hate you, when you shout, when they are crying, when you are walking out the front door. For trivial things and big things just say “I love you even if…” And this means that no matter what they don’t equate it to meaning they are loved less or more. It is just an event with no other meaning.
    This won’t stop you losing your temper, and it won’t stop her being a brat or even out and out naughty sometimes…but it will mean that you both don’t end up feeling hurt and guilty.

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  6. Mirka Moore says:

    Is there something the other girl did to your little one? We had so many issues with Isabelle's friend just before the school finished too, and could not wait for holidays. There must be something behind it. It might be mean from Mia, but I do not think she is a bad girl. She had a reason for it, and maybe you should discuss this together for next time…. girls are girls, they love each other one minute, and hate each other the next minute!
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  7. lauracymft says:

    This is a really brave and honest post Tara. I don't know what to do; I don't have a daughter Mia's age…yet! Have the girls had a falling out that you don't know about? Although it's been a not nice thing on her part, maybe Mia had reasons that she felt were right not to give this girl an invitation? Or maybe she does realise what she has done and realises why you are upset too and she feels she has let you down? Either way, I hope you sort it out soon.
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  8. thinkingofyouandme says:

    I had boys and they are so different. However, I also lost my temper with them, and I have cried, they have cried, they have lost their tempers with me too. I agree with Dawn, tell Mia that you love her but you hate her action in leaving this girl out of the party. A bit like "I will always love you, I just don't like you very much at the moment!"
    She maybe trying to end the friendship (they do outgrow them, as do we) but not be able to recognise a less painful way to do it. Ask her if that is what she wants to do, and could you work together to find a less painfully obvious way to do it.
    I think you will be going through this many times more before she leaves home! Good Luck!!

  9. Sian says:

    I wish I had some words of advice for you but I've been battling issues with my girls being like this for years. Only it's always aimed at each other and going full throttle under my roof.
    They often reduce me to tears and this week went a step further by smashing the screen on my mac in a fight.

    Like you, we have the tears, the sobbing, the promises but the next day we are back to square one.

    I wish I understood girls!

  10. Alyson says:

    This so hard, I’m a child psychotherapist and I can tell you that as someone said before me it’s not necessarily a bad thing that she saw a line had been crossed and your reaction, especially if it’s a one off reaction. I do think this is partly age and development stage but that doesn’t make it easier. Now the dust has settled somewhat do you feel able to have quiet conversation with her, when she is relaxed say ‘I’m wondering how it felt to not give that invite to her’ but do it without judgement, and depending in her answer respond using ‘I’m imagining’ or ‘it sounds like’ and base it purely on what she last said, you will get far more out if her but do not put in your rights and wrongs about it, just allow her to roll the situation Round out loud and you facilitate that, without judgement. I’m sure she isn’t a mean girl and I’m pretty sure that’s what will come out but you have a far better chance if getting her to really think about it and how it felt to be that girl if you allow her to explore it for herself. It’s so hard this parenting lark, you are doing great, try to hold on to that

    • Expat Mum says:

      I totally agree. I am lucky in that (so far) I haven't really had many problems with my big kids, but there was an incident recently about which I was really upset, to the point of crying, and it really shocked one of them. I couldn't yell because I was also crying, but it had the same effect and the kids were stunned. It doesn't hurt for them to see it every once in a while but not as a matter of course, otherwise they will just either roll their eyes or shout back.

      Regarding the mean girl thing – as a mother whose girl was often on the receiving end of meanness, it's really cruel no matter what they've done. Perhaps have a talk with her about what she wanted the other girl to feel like, and ask her if she really wants to be 'that girl'. Sometimes I think kids do things to their "friends" without really thinking through what the impact will be.

    • Tara says:

      Oh Alyson, thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I really do appreciate it. I will absolutely take everything you say onboard. *Makes not to come back to you time and time again!* x
      My recent post Underwater photography with Lifeproof

    • Tara says:

      Oh Alyson, thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I really do appreciate it. I will absolutely take everything you say onboard. *Makes not to come back to you time and time again!* x
      My recent post Underwater photography with Lifeproof

  11. Nickie says:

    I've already spoken to you about this but I'm glad you posted about it.

    It's such a cliche but girls ARE worse than boys for some reason. Rachel used to drive me mad and we had the most heated rows (and we all know how that ended up) – there seemed to be no ending to it all.

    I'd like to say that it gets better but that's not going to help, is it? It *does* get better but our situation changed dramatically so we had to change the way we interacted with each other too.
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  12. Yup, I reckon they all do something that makes us shout and/or be jolly ashamed at some point. It does a child no harm to see emotion, to be shouted at or hear parents shouting at each other – they have to understand that life is full of emotions and some of them are loud and unpleasant. What the really important lesson is though is how to 'end' that emotion, how to turn it back to a positive and become 'happy together' again. To show that it is possible to be angry, upset, totally disappointed – OMG the 'I'm not angry I'm disappointed' speech! – and be able to move on. My daughter was totally horrid to her best friend at the end of term, to the point where BFs mother actually called me about it – they are 15 years old – what could I do?! I apologised to mother on behalf of my daughter, told my daughter that it's a shame to treat people so badly etc etc but left it and it has resolved, she told me this week that she apologised to her friend and they have sorted it.

    I can't really give advice after a child psychotherapist has LOL but I would say there are 2 things to be dealt with. Mia being mean and the situation that has been caused. And I would treat the 2 seperately. If Mia was mine, I would ask that she took the invite to the child with a 'sorry' box of biscuits or something as an apology. I would just then ride that relationship out it will either rebuild or wither but at least the whole 'only one in the class' thing is resolved.

    How to deal with it long term? : take advice from the experts not me, but I would say – do your best to tell her mean is not a good way to be but also accept that girls are girls and it will happen again. But you know, what goes around comes around and maybe, just maybe, the other girl deserved a bit of what was coming and maybe that's why Mia has gone a bit 'hard in the face' about it. It can be really hard to be mean sometimes when you know it is not a nice thing to do, or the right thing to do but also know that the person that received it jolly well deserved it. It's a rotten juxtaposition for an adult let alone a child.

    These things have a wonderful habit of blowing over…. until the next time! Oh and little people little problems, big people big problems. Get a tin hat and expect a storm over the next few years 😉
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    • Tara says:

      Thanks K, really appreciate your input. I did exactly what you said re getting her to take an invite together with an apology. And you may not be an 'expert' but you've been through it and I think anyone who has been there at the coal face is qualified to offer advice!
      Loving your 'little people . . . quote. But YE GODS, it's going to get worse?!
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  13. libprice says:

    Some fab advice on here and on Twitter that shows you're not alone – and I think it's definitely a hormonal thing at that age. We had HUGE friendship issues with D – but thankfully Middle School and a greater friendship pool really helped with that. And the red mist that used to engulf D (and sometimes me too!) is not as regular now – in fact she's a pleasure to spend time with most of the time – so very very different to when she was 8 or 9.
    Not sure any stage is easier than another – all different and equally challenging just in different ways.
    Now – why did I have 4 kids?!?!?!? xxx

  14. Mrs Worthington says:

    Lots of good advice here Tara.

    With a 20 & 18 year old under my belt the best advice i can give is teach them right from wrong. It is OK to lose your cool occasionally, that’s normal. And the child that doesn’t seem to care no matter what you do? Don’t put yourself out for them. Try not get into a heated argument as it feeds the attention they love. Hard as it is walk away. Deprive them of the attention. Sometimes it’s best to let them follow through with their actions so they can experience things to learn from them. Ask yourself What would have happened if Mia hadn’t invited the girl? Do you think it might have been reciprocated? That might have more of an impact.

    With a child that genuinely didn’t seem to care about what they did or didn’t do I eventually learnt that for them the best way was to let them find out for themselves as no amount of discussion was going to help.

  15. Coffeecurls says:

    Could you ask your daughter how she’d feel if a different child publicly invited the whole class and not her. And then another, and then another? Would she feel unfairly ostracised? Discriminated against? Hurt? Bullied? Would she cry herself to sleep? Is that really how she wants this other child to feel?

  16. 25castleson25clouds says:

    I assuming you've done the whole 'how would you feel if it happened to you' talk?
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  17. iota says:

    Lots of good advice in the comments, which I'm reading avidly, as I'm dealing with a similar(ish) situation.

    I'm wondering if children have to be mean at some point, to explore what that feels like. Otherwise, how do they learn? Interesting that you say that it's out of character. I think I was "a nice girl" as a child, but I remember incidents when I was mean, which made me feel horrid. They were usually the result of peer group pressure, and if my mother had known about them, I would probably have disguised that. I'm guessing you don't have the whole story, and probably never will. Hard, as a parent, not to do so, but as our children get older, separating from us is part of the deal.

    I'm sorry to hear it's hanging over you like a dark cloud. One of the things I've struggled with as my children have got older is that sometimes, an issue isn't resolved, not like when they were little, and you could sort things out in a short time frame. I have learnt that sometimes, you just have to leave it and move on – though I bet the parenting gurus wouldn't say that.

    Also, please drop the guilt (easier said than done, I know). I grew up in a house where I was never shouted at, and it was quite a shock when I entered the big bad world, where people raised their voices, cried, lost their tempers. Mia knows you love her unconditionally, and this incident will just teach her that you can be furious with someone, shout at them, and it doesn't change that love. That's a good lesson to experience, and will stand her in good stead when this has all past.

    I love the honesty of your blog. Well done for posting this.

    • Tara says:

      And I always love your replies Iota. That's really interesting what you say about growing up in a house where no one lost their temper and shouted and it impacting on you in later life. You never think about things like that do you when you're trying to shelter them from anything horrid
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      • Iota says:

        I increasingly think that we do too much protecting of our kids as they get older – but it's hard not to. It's such a deep instinct!

  18. Iota says:

    For me, this post raised a wider, slightly chilling, question. What happens if the child you have brought up, turns into an adult who you don't have much in common with? (Couldn't bring myself to say "an adult who you don't like" there.) I mean, not all mean adults had mean parents, right?

    Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not for a moment suggesting that Mia is in this category. But I suppose as my kids get older (oldest is 17), it is a question that occurs to me from time to time, before I sweep it quickly under the carpet.

    Sorry, probably not a very helpful comment…

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