The update that isn’t an update

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to give you an update on the incident at school because I just knew that the triumphant day would come when the parents of the boy involved would either call or show up on our doorstep to talk to us.

Because if my child did what this kid did—or anything even remotely like it—the first thing I would do would be to rain down a fiery wrath unlike any seen before in our house, and the second thing would be to march said child over to the house of the family that was affected by my child’s unspeakable behavior so that apologies could be issued. And yes, that’s apologIES, plural, because the first apology would be to the other kid, and the second one would be to the parents.

I was waiting to tell you about that. The vindication. The relief of knowing that yes, kids do stupid things, but it’s Been Handled and this kid has learned from what he did. But it’s never going to happen.

I think the principal was able to sum it up for me pretty succinctly during our last conversation (of many) about this issue: “It’s definitely disappointing when other people don’t parent the way we do.”

Yep. It’s disappointing to me that my kid was the victim of another child behaving badly, and it’s downright crazy-making that my reading-between-the-lines has left me concluding that his parents just don’t think it’s a big deal. Kids are impulsive and stupid; my own included, sometimes. This incident was what we like to call a “teachable moment,” yes? I wish the other parents in this equation felt the same way, that this was an opportunity, and had taken the time to teach their kid that this was unacceptable and why. (The school gave him two days of In-School Suspension, which he got out of and promptly told anyone who would listen that it was “all Chickadee’s fault” that he’d been there. Awesome.)

Instead I’m left teaching my own kid, as best I can. I had to teach her that just because people laugh doesn’t make it an acceptable joke. I had to teach her that she was right to trust that voice inside that says, “This is not okay.” I had to teach her that standing up for herself is often uncomfortable and sometimes just plain sucks. I had to teach her that some people’s moral compasses don’t match ours, and some people have no manners, and that some kids will grow out of being jerks and others will just grow into jerky adults and have more jerky kids. I had to teach her that the school is only allowed to do certain things, and the rest is up to parents, and sometimes that feels really wrong and unfair.

I had to sit her on my lap—my almost-an-adult gazelle, who half-heartedly tried to resist—and wrap my arms around her and tell her that being thirteen is hard, one of the hardest thing ever, and she has to believe me that things will get better. And then I whispered in her ear that EVERYONE feels the way she does at this age, I PROMISE THIS IS TRUE, and no matter how happy and shiny the “popular kids” look, they, too, believe it’s all a lie and they’re all wrong and unloveable.

“No they don’t,” she said, hair covering her face, making it easier to talk. “That’s not true.”

“It IS true,” I said, rubbing her back. “You go ask ANY grownup. I promise you that EVERY female you ask will say it’s true, and probably most of the men, too.” She looked unconvinced. “Some of the men will disagree because they don’t remember or because at 13 they just daydreamed about boobs all day, though,” I added, and she cracked the tiniest of smiles.

Auditions for our local production of The Vagina Monologues are tonight. The friend I thought I was going to go with has bailed on me. I asked another friend and she’s not available. I’m busy. I’m tired. I feel like maybe I’m too old to get back up on the stage. I feel like I have so little time as it is; do I really want to give it up for this? Also: I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m feeling the teensiest bit chickenshit about it. (I haven’t gone to an audition in twenty years.)

Chickadee asked me this morning if I was going, and I must’ve said something non-committal, because she said, “Mom! You HAVE to go!” I asked her why. “Because you DO. Because I want to go see you in it.”

I’m going, but not because of what she said. It’s not that she wants to see me in it, it’s that I want her to see me in it. She was brave and I owe it to her to get over myself and be half as brave.


  1. Katie in MA

    For what it’s worth, I would have TOTALLY gone to auditions with you. You and Chickie test and support and love and give to and take from and frustrate and lean on each other in just the right ways. You were meant to parent and be parented by each other – which is so flippin’ comforting for me as I bumble my way through parenting my own darling daughters!

  2. Lylah

    *I* think you’re *very* brave.

  3. Beth A.

    Chickadee, I promise, I felt JUST like that at 13…and 14…and 15…and sometimes even at 34. But it gets better after those years that end in TEEN.

  4. Katherine

    Yes, 13 was hard. Middle school in general is hard. I think 12 was worse than 13 for me, but I think more of that has to do with changing schools. 13 was rough for my older son also. 7th grade was the worst for him. Younger son isn’t 13 yet, but its coming soon (Jan). I hope he has an easier time of it, but unfortunately all I can do is hope (and comfort).

  5. Midj

    Haven’t “auditioned” for anything since senior year cheerleading tryouts (’78). You, my friend, are amazingly brave. That you are doing this to help your daughter is beyond amazing… I’m in awe of you. Cannot wait to hear how it goes.

  6. Lisse

    The popular kids are often popular because they have stepped on the feelings of others in order to get there. Many understand that it doesn’t take much for someone to do the same to them.

    P.S. Judy Blume’s Deenie is a pretty good illustration of this very thing.

  7. Laura

    I am just sick about the boy’s parents refusal to take this seriously, especially because I see him doing this or something worse in the future where the consequences will be a lot worse.. I wish there was a binding contract that you had to sign when you become a parent that requires you to not be a friend and to do the right thing even when it is uncomfortable. Tell Chick-a-dee that a random commenter thinks she (and her Momma) are very, very brave to do the right thing, even when it seems like it is the hardest thing in the world.

    Now get your butt to those auditions and knock it out of the park. Break a leg!

  8. divrchk

    Tell Chickadee junior high and high school are terrible. College, on the other hand, is fabulous. Best of luck to you tonight, Mir! You will do wonderful!

  9. Julie

    It’s hard to be the mom of a 13-year-old, too. I guess it wouldn’t be very seemly for a grown woman to punch a kid, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to!

  10. Sheila

    Break a leg, Mir! (Uh, just to be clear: ‘break a leg’ as meant in Theatre Lingo. I wasn’t advocating doing bodily harm to the Jerky Kid. Although you’d have every right.)

    Can’t wait to hear about the audition!

  11. el-e-e

    break a leg at your audition, Mir!! I hope you get the part! :)

  12. Lindsey P

    Chickadee… No woman is ever 100% comfortable with themselves, from age 12 on up. Middle School and High School are the worst. Take care of yourself and do what makes you happy, and the rest will sort itself out someday. Hugs!

    Good Luck MIR! You will be amazing!

  13. Megan

    Yup, Chickie, middle school sucks for everyone. Mine was make just that much more challenging because I had been skipped a year so I was younger and smaller than everyone else (and one of only three kids in the ENTIRE SCHOOL in the gifted program.)

    But high school? Is better – it’s bigger so there are more kids that you’ll actually like, and most people have grown up enough to stop acting like totally feral animals.

    I hope you do that audition Mir and I hope it goes really well – you know what I mean, that you’re happy with your reading regardless of the outcome. It’s often the stuff we’re chickenest to do that gives the best rewards, right?

  14. Traci

    “And then I whispered in her ear that EVERYONE feels the way she does at this age, I PROMISE THIS IS TRUE, and no matter how happy and shiny the “popular kids” look, they, too, believe it’s all a lie and they’re all wrong and unloveable.”

    I might add… it may not be until years later (and perhaps only through reconnections via something like facebook) that those supposedly happy and shiny “popular kids” even realize that they managed to fool those around them into thinking they *really were* happy and shiny.

    I knew that was the act I was putting on (cheerleader, top of the class, dated and eventually married star football player, friend-to-everyone, etc,) but I had no idea that everyone around me didn’t see right through that to the mess I was inside from my homelife and a then-undiagnosed anxiety and depression disorder. I am honestly stunned by how “perfect” of a life many of my classmates thought I had. Yeah. Not.

    As adults, we figure it out. But I doubt that I would have been convinced of this when I was going through it. Hopefully Chickadee’s amazing intelligence and insight will make her one of the few that realize that ALL 13-year-olds feel like outsiders!

  15. Jamie

    Very teachable – bummer the other parents missed the moment.

    Good luck tonight!!

  16. Katie in CA

    I so wish my mom had told me those things when I was 13. 13 sucks. Sucks is not a strong enough word. Junior high and high school are awful. Anyone who says they wish they could go back to high school is lying, or remembering daydreaming about boobs. It gets better Chickie!

  17. Jen

    Chickie, I can confirm what your mom says. I was a smarticle like you, and middle school stunk, and was hard on a daily basis, and other kids were mean. Once I got to high school, it got a lot better, and once I got to college, it was even better than that, because no one cared anymore. Some of my adult friends were popular kids in school, and we have talked about this, and they confirm, it was tough for them too, and they were mean mainly because they felt awful about themselves and things were hard for them too.

    I think you are very brave for standing up for yourself – I usually didn’t, as a young woman, and it is hard for me even as an adult. You should be awfully proud of yourself. I’m sorry it didn’t get worked out the way you hoped, but things go like that sometimes, and there is nothing you can do to make others be good people. Doesn’t make it hurt any less though, I know.

  18. heidi

    Junior High were some of the worst years of my life! It gets so much better. We all felt/feel that way at 13.

  19. StephLove

    If you are tallying up responses you can tell her 13 was HORRIBLE for me. It got significantly better around 16 and then better again at 18.

    I’m sorry the other parents didn’t do the right thing.

  20. Arnebya

    Wanting her to see you in it is what it’s all about, no? Good luck! And tell her that I am one of those hand-raising, agreeing adults to testify that yes, every woman felt the same way at 13, shiny from basting in popularity or not. Commend her again for sticking to her guns and listening to her instincts. Wrong is wrong. And this boy’s parents — what can I say? Yes, we’d wish every parent was like us, willing to actually teach in teachable moments, but, no.

  21. Tenessa

    HUZZAH! HUZZAH! HUZZAH! (that’s three cheers for bravery! May we all be confronted with difficult things and brave through the worst with our heads held high!)(Not that I’m wishing bad things on us all, but bravery in the face of adversity.)

    Yes, middle school or junior high, (or whatever your school system calls it but the school years that span the time of puberty; that strange time of otherness and coltishness and awkwardness; that strange in between when we aren’t kids anymore, but certainly aren’t adults. That time when we finally grow into those gigantic adult teeth.) is unbelievably difficult on EVERYONE. I remember being completely disbelieving when I heard a girl who was stratospherically popular in junior high talk about how awful it was and how unsure she was, etc. at our 10 year high school reunion. So, you see? True.

  22. ste

    Break a leg! I can completely relate … and thoroughly admire your courage!

  23. Diane

    YES. Being 13 was really hard and not fun. The only thing worse is being the mom of a 13 year old and seeing her go through that awful sort of stuff. I feel for both of you. But your listening to her and acknowledging her pain is good. (Have you read the Odd Girl Out?)

  24. Kelly

    You may have said it wasn’t really an update, but I still got a little teary at the courage and parenting in the post! [for me middle school was the deep pit in hell, but then high school – it started to get better pretty quickly…]

  25. Hally

    Chickie – Middle school, and the kids who attend it with you SUCK. I met one of my best friends there, but without her, I would pretty much say EVERYTHING about it made me miserable. And the taunting of the ‘have & have nots of boobage’ and the boys who stink and wear horrible clothes. And the popular girls who are pretty but vacant…all of it sucked. BUT it was over in 3 years. 3!!! That’s it! And high school was such a bigger group of kids, that I rarely had to see the girls that made me miserable.

    BUT – I wanted to add this little tidbit….and this is an HONEST TO GOD true story. My mom (who is not nearly as kick butt as yours) started dating my 8th grade history teacher. Yes…that’s right…DATING, then married him, then divorced him. You wanna talk about awkward adjustments?!?! I’m your gal. Hang in there , and know that you are on the right path. It’s a bumpy and miserable one, but it IS the right one.

    Mir – You are pretty. And I’m proud of you for not shin kicking and throat punching other grown ups even when they derserve….And I am SO SO SO proud of your girl. You are raising her right.

  26. Michele

    Mir – a message to Chickadee from me if you feel it’s appropriate to pass on:

    Dear Chickadee,

    I am a 36 year old woman. I currently own my own business, have a happy and strong marriage, and two children I love.

    But 13? 13 sucked so much I sometimes thought I wouldn’t make it. It was terrible. It was hard. And the other kids around me certainly didn’t make it easier.

    I have two things to say to you.

    1) It DOES get better. It absolutely does. Hang on to that. Talk to your mom about it when it gets hard, don’t shut her out – I know that can be hard, but your mom used to be your age. She knows how it feels. But regardless of how hard it is now, you are special, you are unique, and you are very, very loved.

    2) I understand from your mom’s blog that you’re in the band. I was too, all through high school. Looking back now, I think it saved me. So, cherish the community that gives you. Years from now… You might even still be friends with those folks (I think half of my Facebook friends now are former bandmates).


  27. Mandy


    You are brave, and it *is* hard. I second, and third – and all the way to twenty-third what has been said before. I think it’s worse for the smart ones, but I may just be wallowing in remembrances of my own angst-ridden teen years. Trust yourself and your family. You’ve got a terrific one. Also, read some Judy Blume. And as for the other parents? I think you and your mom should design a line of Hallmark-ish cards for sucky parents and their sucky offspring. Wouldn’t it feel soooo good to slip one of those suckers in the mail, Mir? Maybe you could even do a design contest on here. The proceeds could go in C’s college fund.

    Mir, best of luck tonight. Can’t wait to read about it!

  28. Beth R

    Aaaannnnddddd… we see yet again where that sense of “male entitlement” is nurtured. sigh. I’m very proud of both Chickadee and you, regardless of the other parents’ inability/unwillingness to do the right thing.

  29. Rebecca

    FWIW, I’d go with you. If I lived near you. Which I don’t. And that sucks cuz I want to be your friend.

    But yes, tell Chickadee that 13 sucked. It gets better, but not for a while. But it *does* get better. And middle school kids suck. The kids at my older son’s middle school made a facebook page about him and how much they didn’t like him. Some of the parents handled it, some didn’t. But you know what? In the end that didn’t matter because *he* still had to deal with being the kid who sucked so bad other kids were compelled to start a facebook page about it. He’s 15 and a sophomore in high school now, and it is better. Somewhat. And only somewhat because there will always be kids whose parents allow them to do what they want, say what they want, and behave however they please because they don’t want to deal with it. The key to remember is, those kids are the ones who are going to suffer the most in the long run because eventually you will graduate and get away from them… they have to live with themselves for their entire lives.

    Hug that girl an extra time for me.

  30. liz

    Tell Chickie that 13 sucks. It just does. And then it ENDS, thank goodness.

  31. jen

    Middle school was the worst time of my life. I’ll be 35 in about a week and I still remember with how painful it was. My husband feels the same way. It DOES get better. I promise.

  32. dad

    Can I get to your house in time to drive you?

    What better reason could you possibly have to audition than your daughter’s request? The lesson that fear and even unjustness can be overcome with sufficient will is too important to pass up.
    And yes child. Thirteen sucks. It takes years to get over it but eventually manifests itself as bittersweet. For the record, as a skinny thirteen year old I spent most of my time concentrating on baseball, basketball and boobs…and not necessarily in that order.

  33. Arina

    Yes, let me add my voice to the many who are saying that 13 sucks. For me, it sucked all the way ’til college. There, I found a lot of people who were smart and not afraid to show it, and I finally felt at home. Now, I’m 33, have my own business, lots of friends I adore, a family of my own that I also adore…and I like my life ever so much, and myself ever so much more. It gets better.

  34. Little Bird

    Yep. Thirteen sucked. Mightily. High school was torture for me. But, like Jen says, it does get better. In fact, each year gets better and better. I wouldn’t go back and do it all over again even if I got to know what I know now though.

  35. JBX

    Break a leg chica. All those lessons you had to teach are very valuable and useful life lessons that we get to learn over and over. Still most people you meet are not jerks so there is that. Sorry the other parents and their kid were jerks. I never believed the popular people were miserable either when I was going through it, but you are right, people are more complicated than they appear.

  36. Casey

    When I was 13 I worked in the school office, collecting the roll-call sheets for a bunch of classes. One classroom had a handful of the ‘popular’ kids. Those kids would all BARK AT ME when I walked through the door – because in those days, if you were considered ugly, you were a DOG. Every single day, they barked at me, making sure I knew I was ugly. And now, at 50-years old, some of them have tried to ‘friend’ me on FB. They don’t remember, but I do. Chickadee, 13 sucks. Plain and simple. But it gets better. A LOT better. Hang in there.

  37. Aimee

    Yes, Chickadee, there *is* a sucky age for all girls-becoming-women, and that age is 13. It is true. You may believe. Thirteen was TERRIBLE for me! TERRIBLE. I was a miserable walking bag of frizzy hair and zits and being mocked at school, and it was just no fun at all. Your mom is right, because 13 year old boys spend all their time thinking about breasts. And you’ve got them, which means that their brains are scrambled like eggs every time they see you. You can’t expect a skull full of scrambled eggs to come up with much in the way of meaningful conversation.

    The thing is that there are some bad parents out there, and their kids don’t get taught about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Some of those kids grow up just fine, but some of them will grow up to be unacceptable jerkfaces just like dear old mom and dad. Feel sorry for them, because they are the people who will spend their lives being miserable and they’ll never understand why. You, on the other hand, have a rockin’ mom who’s going to audition so that she can stand up on stage and talk about her vagina. That is awesomeness, and you’ve inherited it from her. Be proud.

  38. Kate

    I just want to be another voice agreeing that middle school sucks. For me high school was only slightly better, but after high school was great. My son is in his first year of middle school, he is a smartie, and in band. He is also one of, if not the youngest kids in his class. This makes for some challenges because middle school kids are mean!

  39. RuthWells

    I would TOTALLY go to auditions with you.

    It may suck a lot right now, but I’ll bet you good money that when she’s an adult Chickie will remember this incident and your (and her) response as a defining moment in who she decides to be. You did great, Mir.

  40. Theresa

    We’re already talking about finding ways to make our kiddos believe that middle school is an awful experience and that you just have to plow through it with your head high. In the end? You make it through, and if you have wonderful parents, you make it through stronger and smarter and ready to tackle high school and adulthood. Chickie has wonderful parents.

  41. alicia

    Chickie, 13 absolutely sucked. Actually, I wasn’t a fan of middle school in general. I was never the popular girl in school, and looking back now, I can see why I wasn’t. It was because I stood up for myself and what I believed in and never allowed anyone to run over me. But it does get better, high school is one positive step, and college is a whole other ball game. Hang in there sweetie…..I can tell from your 13 year old self that you are going to be one pretty awesome person….and our society needs more awesome people like you. :)

    (and Mir, kick some bootay tonight at your audition!)

  42. Katie K.

    Oh, Chickadee. You are brave and awesome and from about 6th grade to about 10th grade are the pits in so many ways. Anyone who tells you “These are the best years of your life” is a big fat liar. In my experience, 6th grade was the worst and it got slightly better each year as I came to accept myself and care much less about trying to fit in to other peoples’ idea of what I should be, want and like. I have a daughter about a year younger than you and from what I have read about you, she could be your twin-born-a-year-later-and-in-a-different-part-of-the-country. Your mom and I are really lucky to have daughters who think for themselves, stand up for what is right and come to their moms when something happens that they can’t handle.

    I really think that boys go through a lot of the same stuff, when not thinking about boobs, but in our society it isn’t socially acceptable for them to express it. I struggle with that with my 14 year old son, and always have. I will hear about problems he is having, even big ones like bullying, from other people instead of from him. It makes helping him that much more challenging and it can’t be pleasant for him to keep all that stuff bottled up inside.

    It DOES get better. Junior and Senior year of HS are so much fun, and college can be an amazing experience, especially for those who have learned not to be swayed by peer pressure, live with a sense of right and wrong and who have goals in addition to a sense of humor and fun. You just have to slog through the difficult years to get to the good stuff.

  43. Jackie

    I think it’s time to pull out Breakfast Club and let her watch it. Yes they drop the F bomb way to much but, it shows that no matter who you are everyone has problems.

    Sorry the little brat’s parent didn’t think he did anything wrong. I can promise you that if I found out my son had made a girl feel like he had done something in appropriate he might not be able to sit for a while. He would also be grounded on top of that and I’d have the school do more than 2 days of ISS. And if I found out he was blaming the girl…. oh m word. I think my head would explode! This is such a touchy subject for me.

    I’m sorry your baby had to go through anything that made her feel in appropriate. Just keep telling her it’s not her fault. She did nothing wrong. She needs to know this and continue to know this. It was his choice to act however he did.

    So glad she feels she can come to you and trust you.


  44. Caroline

    Please tell Chickie that it is totally true. My BFF in high school was one of those popular girls and she never ever believed that she was good enough. And boys are sometimes just plain stupid.

  45. Amelia

    I haven’t swung by here in a while, but your writing is — as always — disarmingly honest and beautiful. And you did get your teachable moment. I know you had to teach Chickadee some stuff you didn’t really want to teach her. But at the end of the day, the REAL lesson you were teaching her is that the only person she can control is herself. And THAT, my dear Mir, is a lesson indeed. ENTIRE 12-STEP PROGRAMS are built on that lesson. So don’t believe for a minute that it wasn’t a worthwhile one, even though it isn’t one you would have chosen for her.

  46. Jenn

    Oh 13. The worst age ever.

    Boys are stupid. Popular girls are MORE stupid and EVERYONE is miserable.

    Believe it or not, high school is better. Hang on to your friends. Throw yourself into activities you love (band nerds unite-yay!) and hang on until it’s over.

  47. carson

    Thirteen is the hardest year ever. Everyone looks back at thirteen and thinks they were the worst most miserable kid in school. EVERYONE.

    But it gets better. I PROMISE. This is one of the things that you don’t believe now, but it WILL.

  48. diane

    Aw, dammit.
    When I was in junior high, I was a smarticle too. Teased mercilessly. Never went to prom. And never, EVER believed when my parents told me one day I would go off to college and people would appreciate me for being smart and boys would think I was beautiful.
    AND THEY WERE TOTALLY RIGHT. But nothing could have made me believe it, and I know I’ll have the same battle with my own daughter one day. *sigh*
    I’m GRATEFUL to have not been one of the popular kids, because I would never have worked so hard, and I never would have know what a great big world there is out there and that the buttheads in 7th grade are so very, very small.

  49. jadine

    You’re awesome. Keep us posted about the audition!

  50. Lucinda

    I remember at 13 believing it would never get better. Now I look back at it and wish I could have seen how everyone else felt the same way. Fortunately, because of Facebook, I have gotten to talk to a lot of the people I went to school with, some of whom I thought had everything, some of who I thought were terribly mean. I learned that they all were just confused as I was. But better yet, they have become this group of AMAZING women who support each other and me. It’s a wonderful thing. Too bad it took 20 years to get there.

    I hope for Chickie that she can read all these comments and know how many people are rooting for her and how amazed they are by her strength. I wish I had been half as brave as she is at 13.

  51. Jodie

    Tell Chickie that being thirteen is hands down the ickiest I have ever felt and the hardest time ever. She is light years ahead of me already. I didn’t learn that I SHOULD stand up for myself until I was grown up. I hope my girls grow up just like her!

  52. Deb

    Oh! I hated middle school. I was picked on, punched on, laughed at, ignored, made fun of, thought I knew who was, had no idea who I was, didn’t know who I wanted to be, wanted to be noticed, wanted to not be noticed.
    It was the most confusing time ever and I was so so so glad to finally get away from it all. Everything changes. Nothing is the same as it was and you just don’t know where it’s going to go and what’s going to happen when it gets there. It’s scary.
    But it does end. Thank goodness.
    Chickadee you are much much braver than I ever was at that age. And you have a fabulous Mom that you can go and talk to about things. My mom and I didn’t have this kind of relationship. You really are one lucky Chickie to be so smart and have such a smart and awesome and pretty Momma!

  53. Kym

    Thirteen is truly the worst year ever. Eighth grade was easily the worst year of my life. In my group of “friends” (very few of whom I still consider friends) there was a girl that would have parties at her house and would only invite half of the group. She would actually invite one twin and not the other for two of my friends that were twins!! Kids are just mean at thirteen… and it really is because everyone is having a horrible time. One of my best friends now, that I truly became friends with in high school, was the prom queen, and even she remembers thirteen as sucking. So tell Chickie that she isn’t alone!!

    By the way, I found high school to actually be enjoyable – and I graduated at the top of my class and was on newspaper in yearbook…. so just because you aren’t a cheerleader doesn’t mean high school has to suck! :)

  54. Charlotte

    Unfortunately, it not being a ‘teachable moment’ for the boy is probably why he did what he did in the first place. That’s the hardest lesson to teach our kids..sometimes other parents suck!

  55. mamaspeak

    I guess you could also point out that even as adults we’re (some of us,) are still learning the lessons she’s getting at 13. (Um, Hello Herman Cain…& he’s the jerk du jour, so um yeah.)

    13 was the worst. 7th grade, I have a memory of going into my mom’s room (she was reading in bed,) and just crying. I couldn’t even exactly pinpoint why. Yes, my day/life/everything sucked, because I was 13! I know now, it was hormones. My mom probably knew that too, but she just let me cry it out. I dread the day when my girls feel like that. I dread being the mom and feeling helpless to fix it. Middle school sucked. It gets better. Promise. It’ll get better faster if you have a good friend or two to slog it out with. Even if you don’t, college is SO MUCH BETTER!

    I was a cheerleader, but I didn’t feel like I was one of the popular kids, bc the popular girls were the ones who were good at sports. (My sport was snow skiing. I live in CA.) People knew who I was bc I was involved in school (editor of school paper,) but I always felt like they knew me bc I gave them no choice.
    People are jerks. You do what you can do work around them/that & enjoy the people and things that matter for you in this life. Don’t give the jerks any more time/energy than you have to. Save your energy for the the people/things that matter to you.
    Hope you knocked them dead tonight Mir!

  56. Brigitte

    The awfulness of the other parents was a bitter, early lesson for me. In my evil plan for world domination, they are not permitted to spawn until they have demonstrated sufficient skills and passed my personal series of rigorous tests. :-)

  57. Leah

    13 sucks. It sucked for me, a well-liked but nowhere near popular band geek, and it sucked for my sister, a tall and gorgeous popular kid. No one thinks they are worthy at 13. But everyone is, really. :)

  58. Michelle

    Aw, I’m fighting back the tears, that was really beautiful!!

  59. Jen

    The fact that the boy’s parents did not make him own up to what he did tells me that their parenting probably has a lot to do with him thinking it was okay to do what he did in the first place, i.e. there probably are not a lot of morality lessons being taught in that household in general.

  60. JennyA

    First, I would totally go to that audition with you if I wasn’t a few hours away, even though the thought of it terrifies me, because there needs to be more bravery in the world and what’s going down with Chickie’s antagonist (and his parents) just pisses me right the hell off. One of the most disheartening things about being a relatively enlightened adult is the realization that a lot of people never do grow out of their jerky behavior for one reason or another. And it sucks.

    BUT, what does NOT suck is that Chickie stood up for herself, which is terribly brave, and that she has a Mama-bear who has her back.

    So. Middle school is THE WORST. You could not pay me enough to do it again, and I don’t even think I had it particularly bad. My protectively mechanism was that I excelled in flying under the radar — not popular, not unpopular, just… invisible. And somehow I think I knew that was probably the best position at that point. High school was better, and it kept getting better from there. So it does get better — especially if you’ve got an essentially good head on your shoulders and some good friends to commiserate with. And extracurricular activities — I think that helped me too. I was in a ballet company and had classes and rehearsals almost every day after school and I think having a different group of people to interact with kept things in perspective most of the time (and I’m just speaking generally — obviously Chickie is going through a more specifically awful incident than just generalized middle-school grossness). Hugs to Chickadee — it truly, truly does get better and we truly, truly ALL did feel like it never would and that somehow everyone else had it all figured out. But I’m living proof at 34 that it’s possible to escape.

  61. Jill W.

    The post and all of these stories in support are so moving. I will add my voice to the chorus- 13 sucks, but it does get better. The trick is to find your people and then to support each other.

    Also, I think this who thing calls for a stack of Judy Blume Books and a John Hughes movie marathon.

    Have you read OK for Now by Gray Schmidt. It is a great novel. Not directly on point here, but it is a good story about how having an interest and a good friend can really carry you through.

    Break a leg, Mir!

  62. Jan in Norman, OK

    I know that feeling of getting back on stage after a very long time and wondering if those muscles are still in working order. Would they even hold me up? But they do! And it feels really good. And you’ll find that you are a much better actor now than you were then. And Chickie will be so proud of you!

  63. liz

    I wouldn’t go back to 13, or 14, or 15, or 16, or any age through 22 for a billion dollars. Just. Too. Hard.

    But the only way past it is through it. Chickie, I’m sending you big big hugs.

  64. KristenM

    This brought tears to my eyes, for a lot of reasons. 13, 14, and 15 are all pretty much terrible for everyone, but there are some good parts — the good friends, a great family, the band (I played the flute, too!). Focus the good parts to get you through because as others have said, it gets better, especially for those brave enough to stand up for themselves.

  65. Jennifer

    Oh yes, ALL teenagers feel that way. But then as you get older one day you wake up and realize that the only thing that really matters is what you think of yourself and that is why it is so important to live a life you can be proud of. Sounds like Chickadee is off to a great start with that.

  66. Carrie

    Being a teen sucks. The worst part is that it really feels like it will last forever, but it doesn’t – truly it doesn’t. And when you are done with that period of your life, you never have to go back. Nobody actually enjoys being thirteen, but some kids waste a lot of energy pretending. No one over 13 believes them.

    Keep in the back of your mind that 10 years from now (yeah, I know that sounds like an eternity), the real “cool kids” will be the brainy and strong ones who found their place in the world and are striking out on the life they want.

    And, boys are stupid. That, unfortunately, outlasts the teens.

  67. Nicole

    being a teenage girl is surely one of the worst forms of torture, luckily you do grow out of it. Even if it seems that any sort of respite is so far in the future that it’s hard to imagine, that’s not the case. You’ll be all grown up before you know it.

    Hang in there Chickie, and know that when you’re all grown up you won’t be looking back and thinking “goodness was I a twit at that age!”

  68. Tracy B

    It’s definitely disappointing when other people don’t parent the way we do….I have said this forever!! It’s so very disappointing!!!! Good luck with the audition!!!! Put on your brave face and go for it!!!

  69. Debbi

    What a great post, I’m so far behind in reading blogs, but so glad I didn’t just do a mass dump (like I did with my e-mails).

    I wish I’d had you for a mom.

  70. Kate in Michigan

    I’m 41. When I was a kid, there was this girl. She had it ALL. She was cute, smart, got the leads in all the plays (she was Dorothy and I was Auntie Em. As usual).
    She was a cheerleader in high school, popular, in the top 3 of our class. I was smart, but not quite like that. I was musical, dorky, profoundly uncomfortable.

    But NOW? She’s very well-off, but unhappy. She has tried numerous times to “friend” me (on FB and in other ways) and my old high school friends because — NOW she tells me— She thought WE were the COOL ONES.

    She ENVIES me with my happy life and the way I was creative in junior high and h.s. I’ve known her since I was in kindergarten, but just NOW I find out she was jealous??? sigh.

  71. Jomama

    So sorry to hear Chickadee had some mean stuff to deal with. As a possible light at the end of the tunnel, let me share this story from my 10-year high school reunion:

    One of the mean girls that picked on me in Jr. High, found me at the reunion and apologized formally again. As an adult. She had done so as a surly teen because her parents made her, but as an adult, she finally understood what had really been wrong with her behavior. And she wanted me to know that she knew and was ashamed of it.

    Now, it is unfortunate that the turkey who hurt your gazelle didn’t get the coaching he needed from his parents. And someday, Chickadee may be able to feel sorry for him that he’s not being guided to be a decent person when he grows up. It’s going to be pretty hard for him without the support every tween/teen needs.

    And you, Mir? Beautiful writing and brave mom, getting out there. Be that good example that your daughter is so lucky to have in front of her!

  72. Deb to

    Yep, completely agree that 13 sucks! I thought junior high sucked, high school was better, but college was awesome and being an adult is amazing! Think about it – do you really want to peak in junior high? You can only go downhill from there….

    I think it is especially hard if you are an intelligent, mature girl because that is just never going to get you most popular, which seems oh so important at that age. But those qualities will really help you later in life – to find love when your peers mature to your level, to be successful in your career, and find fulfillment in your relationships and your life. Popularity is overrated and doesn’t last (and even if it does last, what does it get you?) The best is yet to come!

  73. Dizzy Elisabeth

    For Chickadee: I don’t know if it’ll help to hear this, but it’s the same the world over. I grew up in Australia and I HATED being thirteen. I was scared to go to school and I was miserable all the time, mostly because some people in my class were really trying to make sure my life was awful. I was too scared to tell anyone about it for a really long time. So I say to you, congratulations for being more brave than me. You rule.
    For Mir: I wish my parents had been there for me the way you are for Chickie. I never really told them what a hard time I was having, and the few times I tried, they brushed it off. When I asked my mum about it about a year ago, she said she hadn’t known what to tell me and she hadn’t known how to fix it. I know we’re all human and there’s no parenting manual, but I think your approach is vastly preferable to hers. Chickadee is lucky to have you.

  74. dgm

    I know thirteen year old girls are supposed to be annoying, but sometimes I think it’s so much harder for them than it is for us, the parents of thirteen year olds. With your empathy and openness, Chickadee will get through it just fine. Good luck tonight–I’m sure she is so proud of you!

    And for Chickadee, a song written ‘specially for her:

    There’s just no use getting ’round/the fact that she’s thirteen/ right now. But it will become fourteen in no time!

  75. shadymama

    hey mir – i was an “angry vagina” in ’04 and directed v-mogs in ’05. loved loved loved. i know it’s after the fact, but – break a leg! (i’m sure you did).

  76. shadymama

    p.s. yer bravery? not in question, girlfriend. not in the least. xo

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