“So H told C that he liked her, but that she couldn’t tell anybody, but then C went and told B, who is H’s best friend, and then B asked H if he and C were going out, so H knew that C told B, and now H is all mad at C. And then there is K who is with L, but she likes N so she thinks she’s going to break up with L, but N likes M, so maybe K will stay with L… Ugh. Meanwhile, I just keep living my life.”
This entire conversation, which took place while Ms. B. and I were walking Marvin the other night, was hysterical. But it was that last line, that nonchalantly thrown out, “I just keep living my life” in the face of all the relationship drama of her friends, that made me stop walking because I needed to double over with laughter.
Because, I mean, she knows she’s a seventh grader, right? Seventh graders don’t just passively observe the drama surrounding them, blithely denying it any sort of foothold in their own life, right? But, honestly, I sort of believe her. Ms. B. seems to have missed the ‘major drama’ memo.
In a separate conversation about finding a place to sit at lunch and making new friends in middle school, Ms. B. shrugged her shoulders and said dismissively, “You know, some people just don’t like me.” Unspoken was her, “Oh well. Whaddya do?”
This took my breath away. I loathed middle school. Loathed it. And a big part of the reason why is because I had (still have, if I’m being honest with myself) a hard time negotiating that transition from acquaintance to friend and spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about being popular and wondering, “Why (whine) do they not like me?” I don’t know if it’s because her seventh-grade class is literally three times bigger than mine was and logic dictates that with 350 classmates you just can’t be friends with everyone, but it’s probably because Ms. B. just is a cooler kid than I ever was. She seems to have already figured out, without much trial and error, that it’s not an efficient use of her emotional energy.
I’ll be totally honest: Ms. B. is not completely immune to occasional bouts of pre-teen girl drama. Most recently, she asked me for $10 so she could buy a ticket to her first school dance this Friday (that’s tomorrow, for those of you keeping track at home). I gladly gave her the money and then she asked, “When are we going shopping?”
“Shopping?” I asked, not catching on at first.
“Yeah, shopping. For, you know, something for me to wear to the dance.”
I just narrowed my eyes at her. “Uh… Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you have a closet full of recently purchased back-to-school clothes? Are you telling me that you can’t find a single thing in there to wear to this dance?”
“But, I wanted something new!” Ms. B. pled. The possibility that I would say ‘no’ to going shopping clearly hadn’t occurred to her.
“Kid, even if I wanted to take you shopping, which, honestly, I don’t, I don’t have time in the evenings to take you shopping by the time I get home from work, cook dinner, get the Peanut down… We just don’t have the time before the dance.”
“I just don’t know what I’m going to do!” Ms. B.’s level of panic rose with each syllable. The sentence was uttered with the same level of fear and urgency that one might use to say, “I just learned the apocalypse is starting in ten minutes!”
Look. I get it. I’m not heartless. This is her first dance ever and she wants to look nice. Which is why I avoided laughing at her and instead talked her down off the ledge by letting her ‘shop’ my closet for something ‘new’ to wear to the dance. (See! Having a young mom has its benefits: Hipper wardrobe!)
As Ms. B. flipped through my hangers, she said, “K and C keep saying that this dance is going to be ‘so romantic.’ I’m like, ‘Guys, come on. It’s not like the boys magically become decent just because they’re at a dance.'”
There’s my girl.