The hottest social topic at the moment is schoolyard bullying among mothers. That’s right. Just when you thought your days of being picked on were over, along comes the so-called “Mummy Mafia” to show you otherwise. Mothers form cliques to wield power over other mothers, using arbitrary parameters to discriminate like they did when they were in school.
It’s made some mothers reluctant to come out of their cars to get the children and others sweat big drops over what to wear for school drop-off and pick-ups the night before. Admittedly, I have never been bullied by other mothers because I maintain a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances. If one group excludes me, I simply move on to another. If anyone dares gossip about me, I’ll march up to them and set them straight.
It probably helps that I’ve been wandering around like a Gypsy, so I’ve learnt that every experience, no matter good or bad, is transient. I also have the hide of a elephant from being ostracised and bullied in school – twice in my entire schooling career, actually – so I have better coping mechanisms than most.
The way I see it, there’s no point losing sleep over the mean girls of the world. Even if they never come back to tell you, they’ll experience their comeuppance one day as no one stays in the same circle forever. We’re all bound to be newcomers at some point.
As a mother of a girl, I’ve seen to it that Amanda shuns the game of control via inclusion and exclusion girls seem to know from young. I’ve told her that if she doesn’t want to play with so and so, then she shouldn’t be thinking about their clothes or toys either. I’ve encouraged her to mix with everyone and in exchange for keeping her at her present school, she has to make at least one new friend a week. This is the result of a small drama we had with her best friend at the end of last year. As I explained to her best friend’s mother, Amanda being sidekick to her daughter’s Queen Bee is harmless at their age, but in ten years time, peer pressure won’t be about who gets to play dress-ups and Barbies anymore. It’ll be about drinking and doing drugs to hang with your best buds.
Similarly, if we, mothers, show our daughters it is all right to indulge in cliquishness and exclusivity, by modelling such behaviour to them, don’t be surprised if they face undue peer pressure as they grow older since they subscribe to being part of a herd. For it is by watching us that they learn how to treat and be treated by others. Just as no one is always at the top, no one is always at the bottom either – the wheel of social hierarchy being in constant motion. In being accepting of others, we find our own voice and revel in our uniqueness, and it is in modelling this tolerance to our children that they become delightfully amiable adults. It’s as much as we can hope for as parents.