Columns by Pamela Majteles
Originally published March 18, 2011
Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group — East Bay
If you listened to what they say about girls, you’d never want one.
At almost any gathering of mothers who have daughters, I can count on the term “alpha girl” to crop up, usually to describe some other mother’s daughter. Sometimes I hear “queen bee” or “mean girl”. These expressions refer to a girl who calls the shots in her peer group.
People commonly use language of this kind when talking about the social dynamics among girls today, a subject well covered in articles and books, and also popularly depicted in television shows and movies. The prevailing view is that relationships among girls are characterized by power struggles that lead to cruel and underhanded treatment of each other.
It seems to be all I hear people say about girls. Right from the start, when my first daughter entered kindergarten ten years ago, another mother with a son, not a daughter, said to me, “I’m glad I won’t be dealing with ‘mean girls’.” (She also happened to be a psychologist.)
Now after two daughters and lots of exposure to the world of girls, I’d say this behavior surfaces occasionally, but that’s not all I’d say about girls.
I recently observed a gathering of a dozen middle school girls at my house. Each time a girl arrived at the door, an exuberant cheer rose from the others already assembled. Then a tangle of arms wound around each entering girl, like a straight jacket in a suffocating group hug.
As they settled down to a game of Truth or Dare, I couldn’t help overhearing. The answers to questions such as “What’s your most embarrassing moment”, “What’s your craziest dream” and “What’s the worst gift you ever received” were met by shrieks of laughter. In the freedom of their company, they showed no inhibition.
Before too long, the beat of music rattled the walls, and the whole house seemed to move and shake. I stuck my head in their room to see what was happening. All 12 girls were on their feet, hips swaying, hands out front, bouncing together doing the “Waka Waka” dance. Their faces shone and their teeth glistened, as laughter kept rising and bursting like surf at the shore.
When it came time to go, the whole group of girls surged to the door. With heavy sighs, they took their leave. The last thing I heard was one of the girls calling out, “I love you guys. See you later.”
Nothing compares to the ease, exhilaration and joy that girls feel in each other’s company. When people talk about girls, they should say that too.
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