Okay, so I'm fairly certain that whoever designed middle school was one twisted son of a bitch.
I expected that Girl Child would have issues. Not because of anything she's done, mind you, but based solely upon her gender. Middle school was quite unpleasant for me, what with my horrible curly mullet and coke-bottle glasses. I was ugly as mud, far too loud in all social situations, horribly awkward, and not nearly as charming as I am now. Which, if you know me, is still "not very".
It wasn't just me though. Women are mean. Teenage girls? Are brutal.
Surprisingly, or maybe not as Girl Child is quite a bit more gracious, sweet, and appropriate than I ever thought about being, she's pretty much sailed through middle school with limited issues. Recently her first boyfriend broke up with her and instead of allowing herself to get caught up in the "OH-YOU-POOR-THING-I'M-SO-SAD-OMGery" of her friends? She said, sensibly, "I'll have lots of boyfriends. It's no big deal."
I know I've said this before, many times, but Girl Child? She's kind of completely amazing.
So I was thinking we were probably okay.
I didn't realize boys annihilated each other too.
Boy Child has always been my easy kid. Compliant. Funny. Ridiculous. All of my favorite things rolled into one. Never have I met a kid so willing to do what's asked of him. Never have I ever met anyone who is always down for a spontaneous living room dance party. Never have I met another human being more willing to try.
I'm that mom, you know? I have every password. Facebook, gmail, any other place they go online. I have it. I check it. I don't monitor it religiously, but I check it. Recently I noticed that Boy Child's best friend hadn't been mentioned very much (since he dumped Girl Child, oy), and after the requisite 11 billion questions that all elicited the response, "I dunno", I decided I would just check in.
The contents of my son's gmail account made me feel physically sick.
He asked a question, a simple question, and he was attacked. Told he was a jerk. Told he was disrespectful. A bunch of other things that I was seriously, SERIOUSLY shocked would come from these kids I had come to know as his "friends". Kids I had fed, let sleep in my home, let ride in my car.
He was jumped on. Attacked. Unfriended.
My heart hurts for my Boy Child. Seriously. It physically hurts.
I tell him all the things that moms are supposed to say. I told him a story about the girl who used to be my best friend in fourth grade and how, by the time we got to seventh grade, I realized that my "friend" was a huge dick and I was actually relieved that I wasn't her friend anymore. How it's totally okay to NOT be friends with people who try to act like they are better than you, or smarter than you, or treat you like less of a person. How if you have friends who try to make you do things you don't really want to do and get mad at you when you ask a question, then they aren't really your friends in the first place.
He nodded. Said he understood. Blinked back tears.
"It doesn't really count anymore that your mom thinks you kick so much ass, does it?"
He smiled. His eyes said, "Not really" but he was kind enough not to speak it out loud.
"You want mom to learn to play StarCraft?"
He paused a moment longer than necessary to avoid hurting my feelings. "Maybe Girl Child can play with me."
I'm sure she will.
I couldn't sleep last night. I debated, Do I call their moms? I would certainly want to know if my child was behaving like an unmitigated anus so I could fix that behavior with the quickness. But in the end I decided against it. He's nearly fourteen. I cannot imagine how they would treat him if his MOMMY got involved. He's already sensitive. I don't want him to be destroyed.
When I look at my kids, I can almost clearly see how they will be as grown adult people. I've told them for as long as I can remember that this crap doesn't matter. That when you grow up you won't even remember the names of 90% of the people you have to see everyday while in school. That, yes, grades are important but quite frankly it did me absolutely no good to maintain a 4.0 in college because no one gives a damn in the real world. That I'd rather they have high self-esteem and good character than a stellar GPA. That it's nice to be important but far, far more important to be nice.
I forgot that it does matter. It matters a whole, whole lot when you are living in the middle of it. When the lunchroom is a battlefield and all your friends are now your enemies. When even moms Christmas lasagna can't make it all okay.
When you're just thirteen.