Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Duran Duran Love Affair, part 4: Meeting the band

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

In March 1989, I went on the first date with the man I would eventually marry.

I'd only been in Dallas, TX a few months but I met him on the very first day I was in town. After developing a friendship, we finally went out.

Also in March 1989, I attended yet another Duran Duran concert in Dallas on their Electric Theatre tour, supporting the house music Big Thing album. I loved that album. It was so funky and sexy. I would drive through the streets of town with my girlfriend with the song All She Wants Is blaring as loud as the stereo would go.

The band were re-inventing themselves once again. And I was too. I had left home, broken up with a guy I was dating (whom I coincidentally met while waiting at a music store for the Big Thing album to be taken out of the truck), and moved to the big city where I would be pursuing my own singing career. I was ready for my ANYTHING to happen.

Within a week of my first date and the DD Dallas concert, a friend and I decided to follow the band to their last show of the tour: New Orleans.

She was from New Orleans so we stayed with her family. We'd already been involved with a crazy fan car chase to the airport in Dallas the week prior. I'd finally met Nick Rhodes, the synth/keyboard man for Duran Duran. He was a sweetheart to me and gave me a great big hug that I would be giddy about for the next week. I had missed John Taylor though. I still wanted to meet the man.

After yet another great concert, we headed down to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. We knew the band would be celebrating their final tour date and we were not mistaken. Somehow, in the mix of drunken tourists, we had an altercation with a stranger who would not leave us alone. We ran from him and I darted behind a group of guys standing on a street corner. I hid behind the tallest guy in the group. Imagine my surprise when I looked up and it was JT, himself.

As the group began to cross the street, we became part of their crowd. It was John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Sterling Campbell (the drummer at the time), and the back up vocalists from the tour. Sterling, seeing that we were running from someone, invited us to stick with them. The next thing I knew, we were at Pat O'Briens having drinks with Duran Duran.

I did my best to maintain a distance - even though we all shared a table. I saw other fans walk up and kiss John on the mouth. Something seemed wrong with him. He wasn't.... all there. Still we hung out with Sterling and were invited to the next stop on Bourbon.

There was more liquor, dancing, and more of what I believed to be the "anti-JT". He couldn't stand up alone. He couldn't go to the bathroom alone. He couldn't focus.

I was brokenhearted. It all makes sense now, as a 40-something year old. But to my 19-year old virgin (literally) eyes and beliefs, I couldn't believe the sot I was seeing. I'd not done drugs or anything up to that point, believing that the band I loved was clean too.

Would someone please explain... the reason for this strange behaviour....

Something made me want to say something to him. I felt like... I needed to fix it in some way. I can't explain it and it makes little sense now but at the time, I had too strong of an urge to STOP what I was seeing.

So I approached him to do just that.

part 5, from fantasy to reality...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Duran Duran Love Affair, Part 3: Concerts

Part 1. Part 2.

When I think back to my first Duran Duran concert in 1984, I'm still sort of stunned by the experience. My sister and I were dropped off at a huge arena by our dad with promises to meet at a particular gate after the show. The whole thing was surreal. In my mind, it was mecca.

Posters and DD merchandise everywhere. I bought more posters, t-shirts and a concert program. Our seats were in the very back, furthest away from the stage but I didn't care. I was in paradise.

I don't remember the show now. I really don't. I think we were both too stunned at the music and the screaming fans. I do recall, after the first set and before the encore, getting the idea of moving closer to the stage. Somehow we ended up right next to the stage when the band exited after the encore. Like, 3 feet away from them.

As JT rushed by me, sweaty and wearing a Dallas Cowboys' jersey, I yelled out, surprisingly even to myself, "John! You CAN'T get married!!!"

He stopped, looked back at me with a perplexed grin, waved and moved on.

I thought was going to die.


Now looking over high school yearbooks, most scribbles from signers read, "I just know you're going to marry John Taylor one day." There's even a picture of me, sitting in my car senior year, looking at a magazine cover of Duran Duran.

I think it's how people defined me. It's how I defined me. Seeing their live shows felt like the most comfortable place in the world. I saw John Taylor and other iterations of Duran Duran in concert too many times to count after that. I think I stopped counting at 50-something.

1985 - PowerStation tour...wearing hundreds of black rubber bracelets on my arms...
1987 - Notorious/Strange Behavior tour... with a full moon over the outdoor venue on a warm August night.

1989 - Big Thing/Electric Theatre tour

Ahhh... the Big Thing tour. That was when I met the band informally on the streets of New Orleans. I'll cover that event in the next post. I learned more than I ever wanted to know that night.

1993 - Wedding Album/No Ordinary World tour.... so many concerts all over the U.S.

I stopped seeing the band after I was deep into my career and marriage. Also, when John Taylor left the band in late 1996/1997, my interest waned as well.

In 1997 - 1998, I saw John Taylor (solo or in various bands) in Dallas and small venues in Southern California, including a very intimate acoustic performance to a handful of fans outside of an art gallery in Venice Beach. I met him several times during this period. He was always gracious... and thankfully, sober.

The 2003/2004 reunion tour was unbelievable. Seeing all 5 band members together again was incredible and something I never thought I'd experience after 1984. I've also seen them on subsequent recent tours following their ever-present new music. I've also blogged about them more than a few times.

Whenever they're around, I'll be there. I still get too much enjoyment out of attending their live shows. And I still cry during my favorite song, Save a Prayer. As I've grown older, the tears are no longer desperate tears of a fanatic teen. These days, the tears are more like a silent thank you for the memories.


I still have a grand appreciation for the band and especially John Taylor, years after realizing we weren't meant to be together.

That story is what brought me here. That story is too intense to mention in this post so I'm saving it until tomorrow.

The reason I'm writing all of this is because JT released his memoir recently. He documented these years - my teen years and more - in the book. It was like going back and reliving them again. I feel like there is something there I've lost or forgotten.

Hearing his side of the story? Well, it was a little like the end of my marriage when I heard my ex-husband's memories of the past years and months that were so different from the perception I had. I had to relive it to see where my thoughts about him were so wrong.

And maybe that's why my ex-husband's ghost was following me on my vacation. Maybe that's why I kept dreaming about him and recalling memories of when WE used to travel together.

Or it may have been because I jumped from the arms of JT... right into the arms of the man I eventually married. But I'll tell that story tomorrow.

Part 4 - meeting the band

Monday, October 29, 2012

Duran Duran Love Affair, part 2: Fanatic

I had this poster taped above my bed for years. When I finally took it down, at age 19 while packing up to move to Texas, I noticed I'd written notes on the back. Hit songs from the band and the dates when their songs peaked on the American Billboard charts. It still makes me smile to think about.

Continuing from where we left off...

In the spring of 1983, they released their latest single, Is There Something I Should Know, on a re-release of their first album, Duran Duran. My heart leapt from my chest right into the television screen. John Taylor, the bassist for the band, had to be the most beautiful man I'd ever seen.

Whatever obsession I had with Rick Springfield up to this point was superseded and quadrupled for Duran Duran. I was a girl possessed. Any chores I could do to make extra money... babysitting, mowing the lawn... selling my soul.... I spent every last dollar I had on the band. When I didn't have money, I was begging my parents for it.

I bought albums, magazines, buttons, clothing, records, 12" singles, bootlegs, 45's, videos, posters, books, school supplies, clothing, collectibles, jewelry, cards, hair clips... Everywhere I turned in 1983 - 1984, there they were. I was very nearly like a drug user, jonesing for my next fix. I knew what stores would have the latest stock of whatever was coming out and I was there when they opened.

It wasn't only DD's music but ALL British music at the time. The Second British Invasion, as it was dubbed, definitely had my attention.

MTV had quite the selection of music to offer. When they started playing concerts, not just videos, it was even more difficult to drag me away. Duran Duran's 1982 concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon was recorded dutifully on my cassette tape player and I listened to it over and over and over ad infinitum.

At my friend's house late in 1983, she had the latest album. Seven and the Ragged Tiger was playing on the record player and I just about peed my pants when I realized it was Duran Duran. I immediately rushed home and had mom take me to buy it. The video for Union of the Snake was already playing on MTV - I'd stayed up late for the world premier of it, of course.

Now, with not one but THREE Duran albums, I would sit FOR HOURS and listen, memorizing notes and lyrics. My father had huge headphones that could drown out the sound of the world collapsing. I would put an album on my parents' console stereo (complete with 8-track player), put on the headphones and get lost in the blending of their voices, the pounding of the drums, the esoteric synths, raunchy guitar and those sexy, deep bass lines. The music filled me up, moved my soul and convinced me that anything was possible. ANYTHING.

My walls now covered with my favorite band, I was known as THE Duran Duran fan at school. Every girl had her favorite band member. It was sort of funny that John fans didn't really like each other, or, at the very least, tolerated one another. After all, that was competition. It was nice to have friends who liked Simon, Nick, Andy or Roger instead. Even my mom joined in on the fun, choosing Simon as her favorite. My heart was set on JT.

Somewhere, in my teenage mind, I was convinced we would meet, fall in love and marry.

Today, as I type that, I shake my head. Maybe I needed something to believe in. I always felt like an outsider and now I belonged to something. Sure, there were other teens who believed the same thing but I thought that I was different. It was a very serious thing for me. It was a very. deep. serious. thing for me. I felt like the band was saving me.

Saving me from what? I couldn't tell you. All I knew is that when I wanted to escape from the world I was currently living in, a Duran Duran album would do it for me.

I got to know the band through magazines. Favorite colors. Favorite cities in the world. Favorite artists. Favorite fashion designers. Favorite models. Favorite new bands or musicians. Favorite types of food. If they liked it, I would try it or add it to my bucket list. My horizons were expanded. My tastes were altered. My mind was opening. I was learning so much about life - who to be, what to do or not do, how to dress, what bands to listen to - based purely on what I knew of them in magazines. Sure, some of it wasn't true but some of it was.

I was branching out from the small Louisiana town where I grew up. I didn't crush on boys at school anymore. I barely had solid interest in the world around me at all. I felt different already and now I knew why. I wasn't meant to be there. I was meant for bigger, better, shinier things. This band was my way out.

When I saw their 1984 concert tour was bringing them to Dallas, I cried. I wanted to go but wasn't sure how the hell I'd get there. My dad said he'd take me and I thought I would collapse. I can still remember being on hold waiting to buy tickets. I bought 2 tickets thinking a friend would go and I took my 11 year old sister with me instead.

I'd heard John Taylor was engaged to be married and this was my chance to convince him otherwise.

On February 11, 1984, I saw Duran Duran in concert for the first time.

Part 3, tomorrow. Concerts and growing up Duranie...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duran Duran Love Affair, part 1: Boy crazy

Inspired by a book I read over the weekend, too many feelings and memories were stirred up. I feel the need to write this out... and maybe figure a few things out as well.

It was the summer of 1981 and I was 11 years old. Up to this point in my life, I'd had a few "boyfriends" in elementary school. The cute puppy love and hand holding was exciting. I also remember, most especially in 4th grade, crushing on one particular boy who insulted me for not having breasts.

Boy I showed him, didn't I?


During that summer, I'd begun watching soap operas at home. My favorite was General Hospital. Why?

Rick Springfield
Dr. Noah Drake. Oh and he sings too? *drool*

After watching him for a while, I began to pick up his albums. I also began to pick up some teen magazines with posters of him. And yes, I had a few posters already pinned to my wall.

I was starting to go a little boy crazy.

My dad looked up from his newspaper one day and said to me, "Hey, there's this new TV channel that's starting this week. It has little movies that go along with songs. The channel is called MTV. Let's watch it."

It sounded cool to us. I grew up in a family that always loved music. My mom saw the Rolling Stones in concert in San Fransisco when she was 16 years old. I used to listen to my parents' Beatles and Doors albums. Watching a music television channel didn't seem that strange to us.

We gathered around the TV late that weekend night and enjoyed the kick off of the channel. My dad was impressed. My life was changed forever.

I became obsessed with music after MTV was launched. Any chance I could, I was tuned to the channel. One of my friends had a TV in her room (lucky!) and had it on channel 17 all day and all night. Channel 17 - music television.

When I wasn't watching MTV, I was watching other video shows that came on other channels. I kept my tape recorder next to the TV to record my favorite songs. I fell in love with Journey's Steve Perry. I learned about new bands from England I'd never heard of before. I saw old concert films from bands I'd heard of but never seen before. I was ever entranced. General Hospital still had my attention in the afternoons but now I wanted more of Rick Springfield with a guitar around his neck.

My girlfriend started talking about Duran Duran.

I began seeing them in the teen magazines I bought. I recall taking these magazines to school and trading posters with other friends. She always wanted the Duran Duran posters and I just wanted my Rick...

I saw the Duran Duran video for Planet Earth on MTV. I really liked the song but they didn't look like anything I'd seen before.

I mean, they had strange colored hair. I liked the song but she was more than welcome to the posters.

Late in 1982 and early 1983, the videos for Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio began playing on the MTV channel. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the exotic locations. Maybe it was the Indiana Jones-esque look to the Hungry Like the Wolf video - because I also crushed on Indy. Maybe it was the fresh new look they had. Maybe it was my teen hormones kicking in.

This girl was hooked.

Part 2 - next week, becoming a fan

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vacation pics, Being Haunted and a Blog Teaser

Of course I can't go on a vacation without sharing some pictures with you all. I did post a few on my Facebook page. I also posted a lovely video of the view from the roof of our casa.

Here are a few more pics from the trip.

Our lovely room at the bed and breakfast

Local artifacts in the casa - Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

Greeted in the morning with mango-banana smoothies

Snorkeling in this - like an aquarium

Mmmm.... ceviche

Perfectly empty beach

Should be a postcard

Mango Margarita

Sunset over the bay

Gentleman Jack and I had a really great time. It was nice being alone - without kids - and also a little strange at the same time. There were several times that we would each remark about missing the kids or bringing them to the area again.

Somewhere, towards the end of the trip, I began to check out. I wasn't feeling well and I was very stressed with a work event that was the next morning after our return home. There were ghosts haunting me. I even wrote this, one particular afternoon, after I heard it loud and clear in my mind while snorkeling among clear blue water and CUTE AS HELL loggerhead sea turtles:

"When you're in a relationship, you have a feeling about yourself. A feeling of worth, a feel good "in love" feeling... it seems to be about the other person but you are also loving yourself more.

When that relationship is over, many of us believe that feeling about ourself is untrue, maybe it always was. The feeling seems to be gone.

However, remember this: that worthy loving feeling is in you, now, then and always. That other person was only reflecting it back to you. Just because they're gone, doesn't mean your worth is."

I had at least 2 recurring dreams about my ex-husband. A friend of ours that lives there spent the day with us and confessed to being in the middle of a breakup. And then there was a book I was reading that was really getting in my head.

Sadly (and of course!), GJ could sense it and began to feel a little insecure around me. I really have no way of explaining it except to say that there is something inside of me that is trying to claw its way out.

Apparently, I still have some things to get over. There are things still to process about my life.

I'm going to spend the next several posts documenting a very important time in my life. It may isolate some readers. Who knows, if you take out my details, it may be a universal message.

Or it just may show how completely crazy I really am.

Crazy or not, it's a real authentic truth and I don't think you all expect anything less from me.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Are You Sitting Down?"

As much as I LOVE... really ADORE my new job, this girl could use a vacation.

Cue the Universe for stepping in at the right time!

My man called me at work about a month ago and asked, "Are you sitting down?"

I had no idea if that would be a good thing or a bad thing. A really awesome friend of his had offered to send us on a vacation because (a) Gentleman Jack deserves it and (b) we so rarely get the opportunity to spend any time alone. I was stunned, to say the least. GJ then reminded me of the wonderful time we had on our previous sans kids trip to Mexico and asked me, the Type-A planner, to put together an itinerary.


Photo from here

I'm so excited to go brainless for a few days. I'm so spent at the end of the day - which is a very good thing because I am being challenged at work - but it also means that my nightly phone calls with GJ are barely more than "good night". We've both felt a bit disconnected from each other. Like being 200 miles apart isn't challenging enough already....

I've had to remind him that it's okay to take a moment to call me any time of the day, even though he's afraid of interrupting me in the middle of something. And yes, there have been a few times he's caught me in a meeting or just about to walk into one. Still, I'm encouraging him to seek me out, if he wants to hear my voice.

I'm also doing the same. I'm calling or texting or emailing during my quick lunches or when I get a rare chance to workout in the building fitness center to let him know I'm thinking of him. I don't want him to think that I'm too fried at work to have a thought of him. Honestly, some days I don't even get to the ladies' room (which also means I'm not drinking near enough water). I know things will balance out. In the meanwhile, staying connected takes extra effort and it's worth it to me.

In other words, these few days together will be blissful.

I have a work event the night before our flight and another one the very next morning after we return. I'm burning the midnight oil to be prepared before we go. I want to be an excellent employee and a damn good girlfriend but more than anything, I want to be fully present when I'm with anyone. I'm making efforts to do the same with my daughters too.

In the meanwhile, I will more than likely be posting pictures during the trip to my new Facebook page for the blog. I am slowly weaning off of the Facebook profile I had and moving to the FB page instead. Facebook is getting very particular about profiles with nicknames and I'm ready for another way to interact. I hope you'll come follow me there.

And I hope you're all still reading. You sure have been quiet lately...

Maybe we all need a trip to Mexico, huh? I'll go see if my suitcase is big enough.



Friday, October 12, 2012

How a Homeless Man Taught me about Compassion

Last night, my girls and I took the train to the Texas State Fair. In and around Dallas, we don't take public transportation that much. But for the fair, it's a must.

At one stop downtown, I noticed a homeless man sitting alone. I just... noticed him... but that was it. I didn't pay any more attention to him after that.

Then, out of nowhere, another man dressed in a white collar button down and slacks approached the homeless man. He smiled at him. Shook his hand. Appeared to be talking to him about something good because the homeless man was smiling and talking as well. Then the white collar businessman handed the homeless man some dollar bills. The homeless man smiled even wider, showing his appreciation. Then the businessman moved on.

This interaction moved me. As a matter of fact, it brought to mind something that had happened over the weekend.


Gentleman Jack and I were having a discussion about gym etiquette. I told him that I was irritated that someone didn't remove the weights from the free weight bar. They were such heavy weights that I couldn't remove them and use the bar.

"Just leave a note there," he advised me. "Say that you'd be appreciative if they would 'rack their weights'. Be sure to use those words... so they know that YOU know your way around a gym."

I scoffed. "What? Why would I care?"

He looked annoyed at me and replied, "Baby, I'm just saying that you don't want them to think you're an idiot or don't know what you're talking about."

"Pfft." I told him. "I don't think people automatically assume that someone's an idiot because they use the wrong words."

He was even more annoyed after I said that. And I was annoyed at him. I hated that he thought other people assumed the worst about each other.


How does that tie together, you ask?

Since those two interactions, I've realized that we ALL have our insecurities about how other people view us. And we ALL make assumptions.

I really don't care if someone thinks I know my way around a gym or not. But I DO care if someone thinks I don't know what I'm talking about at work. Just because GJ's insecurity isn't the same as mine, it doesn't make it any less valid of a point.

I think we do want to be noticed for our intelligence, our "know-how", our existence. I think we do want to be recognized, don't we?

Watching the homeless man/businessman's interaction made me realize that I really don't pay attention to the homeless. I don't recognize them as anything except... SAD. A SAD part of society that has been let down. And all I try to do is move away from sadness, look away, don't make eye contact. I'm working harder to allow sadness when it happens, instead of avoiding it. Maybe it's a clearing out of something. Maybe it's PMS (it was). Maybe it's not sadness after all but a temporary heaviness from life.

I forget that that homeless man also had a story... and maybe it wasn't sad. Or maybe it was. Maybe he was a happy person. Maybe he chose to be homeless because of some reason or another. Maybe he's really joyous, right where he was. Or maybe he IS sad and that one interaction really brightened up his day. Or his week.

I was making an assumption about him...just as I told GJ that "people don't do." I was also dismissing him, another HUMAN, due to cynicism and under the guise of preserving my emotions. I wasn't even really recognizing him at all.

My kids, on the other hand, immediately dig into my purse when they come upon a homeless or needy person... whether I have anything to say or not. They recognize the life that needs assistance and they give it, freely.

I like being reminded that I'm wrong sometimes. It definitely opens me up to more compassion and love for my fellow human being.

And for... myself.

Thank you, homeless man, business man, heavy-lifter at the gym and, once again, my man and my children, for being my greatest teachers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Things that Make Me Sad

I didn't feel like getting out of bed today.

Instead of walking the girls to school, we drove. While driving I saw people out running in the cool, crisp fall air... and it made me sad. I miss running. I miss cycling. I miss triathlon. These days, a long walk puts me in so much pain. And that makes me sad.

I read Jess' post about her marathon accomplishment with her husband and how it has brought them closer than ever... and it made me sad. I would love to accomplish an athletic goal with my man but Gentleman Jack is 200 miles away. And that makes me sad.

I saw Jobo's Facebook page where friends had shared her latest post about sisterhood... and it made me sad. First of all, I wish I could be public with this blog. I wish all of my friends could know about it, without hurt feelings and misconceptions. I wish my ex and his family could read it and see that I mean no harm. Instead I have to be as anonymous as I can to protect so many and it feels inauthentic to me.

Her beautiful post also made me sad because I miss sisterhood. My sister and I are not close and, honestly, we only had a rare 10 years of our lives that we were. I THOUGHT we were. I'm not sure when, if ever, we'll ever be really, authentically close again. And that makes me sad.

I read Chopper Papa's post about trying to combine families with his Queen and why they're not moving forward with marriage after 4 years of dating. Reasons I could relate to... And CBG's post about a rough blended family weekend... something else I could relate to. Both posts hit home. Both posts made me sad.

As much as GJ and I are good together, as much as our children enjoy spending time with us as a family, we will not move forward into fully blended marital bliss. There is our children's happiness and relationships with their other parents at stake. CBG and Sunshine's custodial situation is fortunate for them and yet there it is, the reminder that there are still those times when it's just HARD. But you have each other, at the end of the day, you still have someone to lean into.

And that makes me sad.

Because my someone to lean into is so far away... wishing he could lean into me too.


Then I saw Livvy's post, reminding me of my own fallible strength and the reminder that I am never alone.

I saw Nicki's post about the 40 Days of Thankfulness and the reminder to be grateful.

I saw Sunshine's post about the Guardian of Happiness and it reminded me of my own choice.

Then I saw a friend's FB status with this quote from this article:

"This is probably the biggest reminder of them all. You will make mistakes. You will hurt other people and other people will hurt you. You won’t always feel happy and positive. Next time you feel the urge to beat yourself up over any of these things, remind yourself that you are an imperfect human being instead." 
~ Madison Sonnier

.... and it reminded me that it was okay to be sad.

So be it. For now.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Delayed Gratification

When we were little, my sister and I used to walk to the local convenience store to buy candy. We’d saved our allowance and filled bags with the sweet treats.

Oh how I loved the penny candies on the bottom row of the candy aisle. Do they even have penny candy anymore?!?

On the walk home, my sister would eat every piece of candy, including all of her gum. I would have one piece and then save the rest to enjoy over the week until we went back to the store.  Within the hour, my sister would be begging for my candy, upset that I still had mine… while all of hers was gone. 

I hated the fight with her but I loved that I could enjoy my candy, taking my time. 

I still do this. I will save the favorite part of my meal until last. I will wait to spoil myself until a weekend that I'm alone. I am in love with a man who lives out of state...


Well, I guess I'm just that kind of person. Somehow, somewhere, I was born to delight in delayed gratification. 


My dream vacation...okay, one of them, is to travel to Italy. I finally traveled to Europe a few years ago for the first time and as I expected, I loved being there. Though I was able to visit friends in Germany, spend quality time in Amsterdam and see the amazing Dutch tulip festival, sadly, Italy didn't make the cut of things to do. 

Picture from here

My family has Italian heritage and I still have family there. That's the even sadder part. There really is no reason for me NOT to go.

Except, maybe there is.

Maybe I'm delaying the gratification there as well.

This past week, I began a savings account. With every paycheck, I am contributing $50 towards my vacation to Italy. The plan is not only to visit but to take my then teenaged daughters with me. 

We will explore the food, delight in the language, pick olives, stomp grapes, stare at art for hours, take in the Mediterranean air... TOGETHER. They are just as excited as I am.

Sounds like the perfect reason to wait a while, don't you think?

What about you?

What is your dream vacation?

Are you actively contributing to your dream?

Are you a gratification delayer like me? Or do you want it all and want it NOW?! (I have a little bit of that in me too. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life Lessons from the Playground: Little Girls are Mean

My oldest daughter celebrated a birthday recently. She's pretty good about keeping things simple. She just wanted a few friends to come over and spend the night. Works for me.

The problem is that they're all pre-teen girls. Like... 6 of them.

You know what that means, don't you? DRAMA

I guess I'd say it started at the end of last school year. My daughter has been friends with these 3 other girls since she began school. They've all attended every birthday party she's had. At the end of last year, however, she told me that 2 of the girls were "not playing with" my daughter and the other friend.

I hate hearing this. I hate the, "if you play with her, I will not be your friend" threats that happen on the playground between girls. I've been victim to that threat but I was always the one who was kind to everyone. I couldn't NOT be.

The thing is... being a girl is SO HARD anyway. Why do we have to be so mean to each other?

Well wouldn't you know it, the drama continued into this school year. I didn't remember that, though, so when I ran into the instigator's mom on Meet the Teacher night, I naturally said, "We'll see you at the birthday party!" She knew it was coming. We do it every year.

It wasn't until later that my daughter stated that she didn't really want the instigator at her party.

Oy. Me and my big mouth.

We couldn't uninvite her. So, we trudged on, hoping things would resolve themselves.

Then, 2 days before the party, another friend's father texted that the instigator was talking bad about his daughter. She was calling her "fat" and telling others not to play with her.

Again, why so mean?!

My poor daughter felt caught in the middle. She naturally wanted to defend her friend. But she didn't want the instigator to start threatening others against her either. Then again, she wasn't sure if her friend was telling the truth to her father... as her parents are recently divorced and she tends to seek extra attention.

I'm sorry but it's just not fair for my child to have to deal, psychologically, with her friends in this manner. She shouldn't know all of these things. She shouldn't feel this.

I say all of that and yet... she cried a few tears and then handled it with grace.  I know this "training" will be good for her. This will prepare her for future relationships when the psychological ups and downs of another could affect her. She knows that this "meanness" comes from "sadness". After all, the instigator's little sister passed away a year ago.

I had to address it. I couldn't stand to see my child struggle with what to do, who to talk to, who to avoid, who to defend, who to confront. I called the instigator's mother and she asked her daughter about it. Her daughter denied any problems and said they were all friends. She also reached out to the other child's father.

The party went on.

I told my daughter that I would gladly step in and send home any child that wasn't being kind. At one point, I had to talk to the daughter of the recently divorced parents.  She was pouting in a corner complaining that the others weren't playing with her.

"Look, it's up to you whether or not you have fun. They aren't actively not playing with you. They are playing and you are not. If you want to play with them, play WITH them."

One problem solved.

I watched as these girls told secrets about their crushes. Confessed what scary stories keep them up at night. They even dressed up and made a zombie movie. They had a great time. Whew!

I really hated that my daughter had to experience all of that before her party but I'm glad it turned out all right. And I hope MY experience - as someone who was bullied in 7th and 8th grade, who longed for attention and then dated unavailable men, who's had friends and family that tried to get me to take sides during various conflicts, who is a self-declared recovering co-dependent - helped her.

I told her to be herself. Honor her intuition about others. Be with those who honor her too, who feel blessed that she is their friend. Surround herself with those that she can trust, who treat her and others well and, sadly, move on from those who don't.

She was afraid that by standing up for herself, she'd make her friends mad. Then she smiled and said,

"But I'd rather be ME and not care what they think than pretend to be something I'm not!"

That's my girl.