Monday, April 8

Queen Bees: Preschool Edition

My daughter came home sad from preschool Tuesday night. She mumbled something about Anna*
(names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent). My "momdar" (like radar, but specific to moms) began sounding the alarm.

I threw the rolls in the oven, walked into the living room, and pulled my daughter onto my lap for what I hoped felt like a cozy conversation but what was actually a soft interrogation. The secret to a great cross-examination in the courtroom is usually to start the questions soft, easy, and harmless. I admit, I use the tactic on my kids. It is one of the few advantages I have, even at their young age! 

My daughter began spilling the beans: Anna (a natural leader, from what I can tell) and my daughter (definitely a natural leader) are locked in a power struggle involving threats to revoke birthday party invitations and lobbying other girls to pick sides. After a promise of disciplinary immunity, my daughter admits she has been mean to Anna, too. My daughter's heart hurts. And, my heart hurts. Why do women play these games? And why do we start this so early in life? 

As the rolls burn (who sets those silly oven timers anyway?), I talk through practical ways for my daughter to respond to unkind words and actions without being a doormat and without being mean herself. We practice. We talk about feelings. We talk about what it means to be a "friend" -- in the true sense of the word. And I silently wish that I could wrap my daughter in bubble wrap, that she would not have heartache and trouble and "mean girls" in her life.

I was reminded of my daughter's experience a couple of days later when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called The Tyranny of the Queen Bee.  The article spoke of women who, upon reaching career success, sabotaged, undermined and derailed the careers of women climbing the corporate ladder beneath them, often in subtly intentional ways that their male counterparts did not notice. As I read, my heart ached.

It seems that, generally speaking, we women have a unique gift for creating community (we are frequently the relationship builders in families, in churches, in organizations). After an evening out with two couples a year or so ago, my husband and I compared conversation notes.  While I was engaged in a deeply personal conversation about hopes, dreams and sorrows with the two wives, I discovered our husbands were discussing concrete.  Yes. Concrete. No lie. Aaron and I had a good laugh over the differences in bonding strategies for men and women after that night!

As with any gift, it can be misused. We misuse it when we gossip, when we tear another woman down, when we stick our noses in the air about someone's clothes...or whatever it is that we've decided isn't trendy/cool/expensive enough. And, if we were honest, haven't we all failed in this area on occasion? I have. I try not to, but I've occasionally found myself in the shoes of the "mean girl," usually before I even realize I've done it.

And so, as I struggle to role model the woman I want my daughter to become, I pray that I am quick to recognize the potential "mean girl" moments in my day -- that I will instead speak life and encouragement instead. 

With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women
he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? 
-- James 3:10-12 (Message)


2 comments :

  1. Love this post Julie. Good reminder for me, and as I raise my daughter. Thank you!

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