Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wilds of Girl-dom

The hours I’ve spent at Boy Wonder’s school have rendered me melancholy lately.

Funny how little boys rarely change over time—the ones I see walking the hallowed halls still talk about sports, they still play pranks on their buddies, still make those armpit farting noises with reckless abandon. Still ignore girls for the most part…

But the girls? No, I don’t see the same faces I grew up with in some of today’s girls.

There have been days when I’ve had to re-orient myself just to make sure I’m not at a nightclub on a random Friday night.

That I am, in fact, at an elementary school.

My ears have burned at the way they talk to each other. I’ve hidden my broke-down cellphone away in shame when they pop out the latest G4 gadgets at the sounding of the afternoon bell. The mini skirts I was never allowed to look at. The knowledge they’ve picked up long before they should have it.

It’s all led me to one conclusion:

I never would have made in today’s elementary school world.

These poor girls are body conscious by the time they zip up their first princess Ariel costume. Some have boobs in second grade. They have boyfriends and are breaking up with said boyfriends before they can spell the word boyfriend. They have little girl alliances that work surreptitiously to topple the nexus of power of the other little girl alliances. They trade friends like we used to trade worn out copies of “The Babysitter’s Club” and “Sweet Valley High.”

I’m actually intimidated by some of these girls. I’m afraid of making eye contact, lest I be deemed less than worthy.

In fourth grade I had a mullet.

No, really, people. It was a mullet with a capital M. Add to this mullet what’s known as a “rat tail” and you’ll not have to wonder why my first date wasn’t until nearly my junior year in high school. I was a late bloomer and in the 80s, that was just fine.

Friday and Saturday nights were spent at the neighborhood roller rink where I sported neon wind shorts, a Bobby Brown t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up (and tucked in to my neon wind shorts, thankee very much), my god-awful hair, and bright blue roller skates with an orange stopper on each toe.

I sang along and whizzed around in large circles to Rick Astley and any Def Lepard track they graced us with. I was never, ever the object of anyone’s affection, except, perhaps, the snack bar guy…but that’s only because I’d spend a small fortune on churros and Cherry Coke. The couples skate was lame and nothing more than an opportunity to clown the teenaged girls unlucky enough to have to skate backwards for an entire song. I loved it when they fell.

I was a nerd. Plain and simple. I had a best friend who went everywhere with me. Who I encouraged to do stupid things so that I’d have someone grounded the same time I was. Back in those days, there were no Ipods with songs like “Birthday Sex” or “Tooted and Booted”. There were songs we taped off the radio and played over and over (always fast forwarding through commercials) on our boom boxes. Double Dare came on every afternoon and if I wasn’t grounded for some infraction or another, I was allowed to watch it. Social Networking consisted of spying on my neighbors from the top branch of my tree with Smurf binoculars my grandparents gave me. Whatever.

The sad truth is that I would have been eaten alive in 2011.

I would have been banished to the back of the class and become queen of the paste eater tribe. That odd-looking recluse that cut her bangs with safety scissors when the teacher wasn’t looking. Pretty sure I would have had an excuse and phantom ailment every morning for my mom—anything to avoid returning to the wilds of modern elementary school.

Thank goodness my first child is a boychild. And my second child is a boychild. I consider them lucky, and myself doubly so for a chance to learn the ropes well enough before baby sister arrives.

Somedays it looks like she’s going to need all the help she can get.

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