Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lessons in Bees

Today Jellybean told me that she is a little worried about school because "Mary" is in her class. Last year "Mary" was a developing Queen Bee and Jellybean was genuinely confused by her fickleness. and her meanness.

It was incredibly apropos because I just finished confronting a Queen Bee in my own life so I was able to talk with her from a very fresh perspective. But, I'm afraid I burdened her with a curse more than alleviated her concerns. It would appear that she, like me, was born to battle these creatures. And on the one hand I felt a little proud but on the other my heart broke for all of the future heartbreak she is facing. So, I tried to arm her as best I could. Here is what I told her, from one Queen Bee Slayer to another.

I wish I could tell you that girls grew out of this phase. That somewhere hearts were softened and insecurities were wiped away and these Mean Girls turned into compassionate, open women. But that would be a lie. You will meet Mean Girls your entire life. The first lesson that you have to learn is how to recognize them. It is easier to simply avoid their reach altogether than to have to slip out from their grasp once you realize what you are tangling with.

A sure sign that you are dealing with a Mean Girl is if she tries to cozy up to you and get information from you about other people, your friends. She may sound supportive or sympathetic. She generally shows up an opportune time, like when you have just had an argument with one of your friends. Trust me. This girl has no interest in comforting you. She only wants to use you. Your best response..."You should ask her that yourself."

The second and hardest lesson you need to learn is that when you go up against a Queen Bee, you are going alone. Even if you are going to defend your friend against mean things that the Queen Bee has done. You will look at the Queen Bee and all her "friends" around her and when you turn to find comfort in seeing your friends behind will hear the wind in the trees and gravel under your feet. But you will not hear the sound of someone backing you up. I've done this countless times. I wish to God that I didn't feel like I had to fight these battles. But, I truly can't help it. And the worst feeling is knowing that you are standing there completely alone. Even at my age when I know that it is the case, I still hope...and my heart still drops. But, if you choose to stick your neck out and stand up to her, (and you don't have to!) know beforehand that you will be standing alone. No matter how many people told you that this person needed to be brought down. No matter how hurt and upset the person you are defending is, in the end it is your neck. alone. And nine times out of ten, you're going to get your ass handed to you in a pretty package with a bow on top. And after all of that, they will come out of the woodwork to tell you how great it was that you stood up to the Queen Bee.

And the last lesson...nine times out of ten? It won't have changed anything. The Queen Bee will still reign. But you? You have stood up to injustice. You will hurt. But, I have to believe that somewhere in the universe this little flap of butterfly wing has brought about an act of great love.


Bridgett said...


I had to check your kids' code names--I was afraid it was Ladybug and "mary" was my Maeve. Really.

If you are talking about what I think you're talking about (your queen bee, not hers, unless it is one of my daughters and then I'll have to do something), I'd love to talk to you about it in person. There are reasons I had nothing to say. Mostly involving three years of being told I had nothing to add.

Bridgett said...

And have Jellybean hook up with Sophia (assuming she isn't the problem--I would be genuinely shocked if she were). Sophia loves her. I know there's an age gap but that's part of a multi-age classroom, right?

Katie said...

Mean girls suck. I am still terrified to run into the Queen Bee of my youth--she tormented me from 6th grade through graduation. I know now that my parents really were right--she and her friends viciously teased me because they were jealous. Jealous of my intelligence, jealous of my drive, jealous of my self-esteem. Just because my parents were right and I probably have a life that many of them would still be jealous of today, that doesn't mean that their taunts and isolation were any easier as a child. My memories and feelings of not-belonging and loneliness are still there. When one of the Queen Bees recently friended me on FB, I felt oddly proud of myself that SHE would want to be "friends" with me (she likes me, she really, really likes me!!!)---and I accepted her request, and find myself strangely honored whenever she makes a comment on my page... even though I know that she could never really be my friend. It's so sad that our childhood mean-girls issues never really go away. Jellybean is bright, beautiful, fun-loving, and comes from an amazing family---there's a lot there for other girls to be jealous of. My heart hurts to think of the pain and confusion she will go through all because of the Queen Bees in her life, but I know that she has a great and strong Slayer to teach her how to survive it all.

Cakes said...

@Katie...looks like a bookclub pick! And frankly, I'd still be wary of the Queen Bee on Facebook.

@Bridgett...definitely NOT Sophia. The older girls have no issues. And the younger ones wouldn't either, if not for this girl.

Otis' mom said...

Oh, and let me just add that I can relate to your own issues with a Queen Bee as an adult: my best friend of 17 years stopped talking to me after serving as my maid of honor at my wedding. With no explanation, nothing. And before you think that I was some sort of horrible bridezilla, please don't--we had the most laid back wedding, I paid for everything (dress, hotel, flight, etc) and only asked that she be a part of my big day. I spent the first three years being sad just about every day that Laura could so easily throw away what I thought was an incredible bond, but in the last year I have recognized that our friendship was more one-way street than anything. I was always putting my life on hold for her, always doing what she wanted, never really telling her what was going on in my life but always listening to her stories. I was a doormat for her, and maybe my marriage showed her that she wasn't going to be number one anymore. I recently tried to friend her on FB and she ignored my request---sometimes I wonder if any of our 100+ friends in common have noticed that we aren't FB since we were joined at the hip throughout middle school, high school, and college--if someone was talking about me the sentence was almost always "Katie and Laura..." The lack of a friendship makes for ackward visits home--I actually hid from her dad when I saw him at Walgreen's. I am finally beginning to appreciate our friendship for what it was when it was good and am trying to forget the toxic aspects of it.

Cakes said...

I am sorry about your friendship. It must be hard to have no closure with it. Girl friendships are so full of confusion and complexity. I am so glad, as a grown woman, that I have been able to find these drama free friendships because I just have no time for the games. I hope you can find those in B, too. GOOD girl friendships are the absolute best.