“You need to read Queen Bees and Wannabes…”
I can't tell you how many times I heard that last year as we struggled through a horrendous seventh-grade experience. Yet, I resisted for a couple of reasons. First, I thought I was doing a pretty good job helping my child navigate the cesspool that's middle school. Second, I totally hate self-help books because I grew up in a home where my mom swore by them (until the next thing came along). So, I just blew off any time someone told me to pick it up.
I changed my mind this year when I realized that the movie Mean Girls was based on the book (check out our Mean Girls style blog for it's 10th anniversary. Since my teen loves the movie (which shows every single inappropriate behavior a teen could ever exhibit in a hilarious manner), I felt it might be time to pick up the book, see what it's all about and perhaps find a teaching moment. Maybe I could connect the dots a little by using the “coolness” of the movie to talk about the important parts of the book and relate it back to her experiences.
So, first, I have a confession. It took me a little while to get into Queen Bees and Wannabes. Primarily because I was doing a lot of things right. However, I did find a golden nugget pretty early on when the book discusses cliques and the roles that girls play. It was an easy discussion to have with Rosie that was constructive, non-threatening and it allowed her to look at her Girl World pretty clearly.
While the Queen Bee is usually the “epitome of teen girl perfection,” is not (in an interesting turn of events the Queen Bee of my youth wasn't either. She was just a mean, homely bully). However, she meets the rest of the book's description to the T. She's in the center of the group, calls the shots, is very strategic in her every move and she's the first to hurt someone's feelings and say, “just kidding.” We read the description together and my child's jaw dropped so she was comfortable looking at the other roles and talking about them.
That afternoon, she was clearly able to identify the sidekick of the group (the one that emulates the Queen Bee and does everything she says), the Banker (the one with all the dirt on everyone that just “lets it slip”), the Messenger (the one that lives for drama) and a few Wannabees. It was interesting to see each one of the girls in the clique fit pretty neatly into the each of the descriptions.
Then we got to the part where we had to define Rosie's role. We knew she'd been the Target. It was pretty clear. But an interesting thing happened when we read the description for the next role- that of Champion. My daughter read it and identified with many of the characteristics.The Champion doesn't associate herself with one clique- she has different groups that she floats between. She doesn't like to exclude people and she's not willing to sacrifice herself to gain or keep social status.
We talked about last year and for the first time, Rosie realized that she had lots of different groups of friends and that she didn't really have to be friends with the clique she'd been hanging out with the most (this was a breakthrough for her because she felt trapped in her role with the current girls. She also felt very excluded at times.) She liked what she read about the Champion and made the decision that she was not willing to follow, she wanted to stand up for herself. It was a turning point.
Yesterday, driving to Tulsa, Rosie watched Mean Girls in the back seat. While we both laughed hysterically at the jokes, I could tell that she was really paying attention for the first time to the roles that were depicted in the movie because she could related after our discussion. She clearly saw the Queen Bee, Sidekick, Banker and Messenger for the first time and we talked about the behavior and why it wasn't appropriate. We now like to joke that Mean Girls is textbook “how not to behave” in school.
Since it's summer, it's easy to escape Girl World for a while. However, I know that the school year will be here soon. I'm hoping by then my Rosie will embrace her inner Champion and hold onto the role. Fingers crossed.
If you'd like to order the book, you can do so from Amazon here: Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence. You can also find the book online at Target.
This will be the first in a series about the book Queen Bees and Wannabes. There was just too much for me to write in one simple review about the book. Next up: Did you know that your experiences as a teen shape the way you deal with your child's?