Monday, April 7, 2008

A Sign of the Times

Today, my daughter had the “worst day ever”. After spending a wonderful Saturday celebrating her birthday in New York City with her two best friends (and their Moms, gratis), she had a horrible Monday navigating the jealous insinuations of the rest of the girls in her fifth grade class. Elizabeth was so happy going to school. She, Margie & Winnie had a new experience to talk about and share with their classmates. They even had “Build-A-Bear-Workshop” bottled water to use in gym class (gym --- which my daughter and Margaret absolutely hate and Winnie adores and tackles effortlessly). They’ve spent all year being omitted for birthday invitations. Margaret Bossy (aka Bossy Margaret), also in their class, had a party earlier in the year and invited everyone but the three of them. Then, Josie did the same thing. Angelina naturally always has something to brag about excessively … but if you knew Angelina you’d understand she can’t help herself. Regardless, feelings got hurt, as my daughter and her friends tried to understand why they were left out. I still haven’t figured it out.

During recess, Margaret and Elizabeth play on a swing set. They are working on their world record for swinging and are intense about having those two swings every day. They also do a lot of talking when they’re there and their use of the swing during this time period, I understand, is sort of a given. Not today. For some reason, unbeknownst only to her, Jenna (of, oh-sorry-sorry-sorry but-not-really-meaning-it fame) decided that SHE wanted those two swings out of all the swings just for herself and started bullying my daughter and Margaret. Soon, Anneka got on board. She’s a pretty blonde who has moments of evilness that my daughter is aware of and has testified on dramatically at home. Then, Marilee heard about it, and as attracted as she is to any sort of drama, she leapt right in on the action. Then, finally Bailey got involved. Elizabeth thought that she and Bailey might be friends, and I think was particularly upset by her. They had a play date on Club Penguin a week ago. Liz and Margie stood their ground with the mean girls (as Winnie sort of gazed off noncommittally into the distance, which naturally, ticked the other two off righteously). Finally, the girls ratted the others out to the teacher, who is very understanding. Unfortunately, the other brat packers called them “immature” later on for doing so. They couldn’t win.

Margaret’s older sister is engaged in a war with the devil in 8th grade. Same school. She is surrounded by children who are indulged and wealthy, and while the children in my daughter’s class simply try peer debasement on for size in games, these eighth grade girls have it sharpened to a lethal point. It has landed Margaret’s older, more sensitive, and sweet sister into counseling, on a weekly basis, to deal with why she won’t eat and can’t sleep. This kid is a size two at the most already. Her mother hardly recognizes her behavior.

This, dear bloggers, is what almost 25 grand can buy in the state of Connecticut. On the train en route to NYC, Leslie, and the Moms and I discussed the private school options in the state. It’s either one of only a few privately owned institution, all with this sort of disease brewing in its hallways, or it’s parochial school. Ask me if I want my daughter raised by nuns and adhering to the Catholic Church’s code of morals. Um … no thanks. Rumor has it that the school my daughter is in is run by a small group of Moms in the upper grades who have the headmaster and the teachers completely pussy whipped. And while they think their sense of entitlement has their children being treated as special citizens, in fact, what it does is trade their souls in for designer labels. What I see is generation after generation of rich, stressed out, and completely soul-less children being cranked out one class after another.

We ask ourselves … do we want our daughter to be one of those mindless drones?

Negativity is contagious. It takes a much stronger force of positivity to neutralize it, and still the effort must be on-going. In this state, negativity is a cultural grace. In a class full of precocious 8th graders, I imagine that it is easier to give in to the stronger, pushier eighth grader … particularly when she is waving her credit cards around in class and, like, you don’t have one. At the delicate age of 13 when a young person is forming her identity, this can be so confusing, demeaning, and debilitating. Margaret’s older sister has been transformed, and her mother only hopes that she has interceded in time to stop it.

The new millennium’s high school dramatics include bullying, threats of physical violence, psychological warfare, profanity, and critical deconstruction. Throw in one helping of Juicy Jeans at $300 a pair, a pair of Ugg’s, a Capitol One Credit Card, and stir. Then bake at hormonally temperate in high school for about four years. Serve on to college and and then the future when done.

Pray for the world.

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