Birthday party, Mr. McFeely & Girl Squad?
I don’t remember much from elementary school when it comes to friendships, exclusivity and cliques.
I don’t have memories of girls who weren’t friendly or who closed ranks of cliques and left me on the outside.
Do you recall any of that? I once asked my mom. I don’t, but I wonder if it’s the benevolence of memory?
You were lucky, she responded. You went to an experimental school where pretty much every kid was the “odd” kid. In that way it was very inclusive.
I think about this conversation each year as my daughter readies to start school.
We’ve been fortunate so far.
We’ve had drama, but we’ve not yet had the frenemies experience.
And, as everyone who’s ever had a child or loved a child knows, I’m holding my breath.
And I’m watching.
two members of my elementary school ‘girl squad’
I pay attention as I walk the Child to school and wait with her on the playground.
I listen to how she treats others and how others speak to her.
Right now (there’s that breath holding again) mostly all I see are girls stepping up to be inclusive.
The playground groupings which exist seem more created to benefit the members (we all swim competitively. we can help each other before, during and after meets/practices) than with an emphasis on exclusion.
The girls are focused on the friend-groups and the fact (as with family) they may be allowed to tease each other, but if an outsider tries to break the circle and be “mean” the group immediately offers support.
Are girl squads the new cliques?
When I mentioned these observations to a mom-friend she smiled and nodded.
They’re like Taylor Swift and her squad, right? It’s not too cliquey here.
Which led me to Google.
Which led me to girl squads.
(Which led me to wonder, again, if I’ve reached the age where I’m “keeping up with” pop culture?)
It’s the fourth day of 4th grade and what I’ve seen so far has me filled with optimism.
I’m aware it’s a delicate balance (yep–still holding my breath), I know online & offline bullying reigns supreme many places, I’m choosing to be hopeful.
- Have girl squads become the new cliques?
- Have girls realized there’s greater strength in numbers/mutual support than in putting others down?
- Is my own challenge less I’m lonely and more I need to Swift-up and get me a squad?
Runner Girl saysAugust 26, 2015 at 4:51 am
I am 28 and I need a Girl Squad!!
I like how that sounds better than a tribe.
Allie saysAugust 26, 2015 at 5:09 am
I have boys and, as far as I can tell, as long as you love to run around and scream, you’re in! But yes, I’m holing my breath (and holding back tears) as this is the first day of first grade.
Angela @ happy fit mama saysAugust 26, 2015 at 5:13 am
I really hope this is the way things are swinging! I remember from my childhood the emotional roller coaster of frenemies. I fear that’s what my daughter will go through too.
Bea saysAugust 26, 2015 at 5:25 am
It’s a really interesting differentiation you make.
Closing ranks as a way of support and not exclusion.
I need to think about this. I love your posts, Carla.
Jennifer F saysAugust 26, 2015 at 5:50 am
I’ve never heard the term girl squad before. . . but I’m so happy to hear that 4th grade is inclusive so far. But, I think middle school is a real beeyatch though . . . wasn’t as bad for boys though. but still
Gena saysAugust 26, 2015 at 6:18 am
My 13yo has her co-ed squad and while this is the first year for its appearance, they seem pretty inclusive. There is definitely the associated drama, and add on the layer of `this one’s dating that one’ (which we’ll leave for another day!!) but for the most part it seems to be a supportive group of like-minded kids. We don’t live close enough to her to see the daily interaction with other squads or groups, but based on what she says, it’s a live and let live mindset…as long as you’re not messing with someone in another group for no reason or who can’t defend themselves, they are pretty accepting of just about anything.
Marcia saysAugust 26, 2015 at 6:51 am
My Freshman has a “squad”. This is the exact term they use too. The core group originated back in a 2nd grade Brownie troop and they’ve been tight ever since. Some girls have left and new ones have joined so if the definition of clique includes not letting others in, the squad is not a clique. I love that she has such a great group of friends, and there’s really no drama to speak of.
My 10 yr old has yet to find her tribe. Her friends change based on who’s in her class. She’s more of a loner so doesn’t seem to really care. I worry more about her but maybe I shouldn’t.
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:43 am
we need a coffee date Marcia 🙂 Mine is soooo flexible go along get along like your 10 year old. She seems happy and content. I still sometimes worry and wonder if it is all the moving?
misszippy saysAugust 26, 2015 at 6:55 am
My experience to date with my daughter has been pretty positive, too. But I think that’s b/c our daughters are still young, honestly, and not into social media, etc. yet. Because social media is a game changer for these kids and not in many positive ways, IMHO. With my son now in high school, I was able to see some of the bullying, exclusivity, etc. in the middle school yrs. In some ways, the boys can be just as bad–there was definitely a group of boys at his school that ruled the roost and picked on various kids each day. So I will withhold judgment on this one until my daughter is in middle school!
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:42 am
YEP. I sadly think you nailed it as well with the “not into social media.” Mine is not. Not allowed. Some of her peers? Already on facebook and instagram (!).
misszippy saysAugust 26, 2015 at 9:17 am
Yes! Some of my daughter’s, too. We “waited” with my son until 7th grade, which in reality, still felt a bit on the young side but it was pervasive among his peers by then. Even in high school, I still don’t allow him to have snapchat, which puts him in a BIG minority. But I can’t really see that app being used for any good among youth.
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 11:48 am
yeah. Im not excited about being that mom (IM GOING TO NO NO ALL OVER THE PLACE WITH SOCIAL 🙂 and when I NO it never ever turns into a yes) and also curious how I “do” all this when she goes to friends’ homes where the parenting may be more permissive? #holdme
misszippy saysAugust 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm
Never ending dilemma. You just have to do the best you can with instilling your value set in your child and at some point, give them the freedom to make their own choices. Definitely not an easy aspect of childrearing!
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:07 am
Now i have to go look up girl squads… this is totally new to me!
Bri saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:11 am
Interesting… I didn’t even know this was a thing. It seems like for 20-30 year olds it could even be a fitness group they’re a part of. I have my trail running girls, which are different from my high school friends which are different from my artsy/writing friends… haha.
Rena McDaniel saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:25 am
I hope she never has to experience that cold chill of a mean girl attitude! My kids are grown ups now with babies of their own, but when my daughter was in the 8th grade there was a incident so bad that I pulled her out of school immediately and home schooled her for the rest of that year. It was boys though not girls and I had inadvertently caused the whole thing. It was awful. We had gone to visit the “Freedom Center” when three boys were tormenting one of the women who worked there calling her the n-word among other things. I stepped in an put a stop to it and they then ganged up on my daughter on another field trip when they had been left unsupervised for a very long period of time. Three boys beat my daughter and ripped her clothes off of her. Needless to say she never went back to that school again. It was awful…for both of us.
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:41 am
Oh RENA. I cannot imagine… xo
cheryl saysAugust 27, 2015 at 8:56 pm
There should have been charges pressed against those boys…
So sad that the school was not supervising kids on a field trip. I have been in public education for 40 years and have been exposed to all age groups. I really have never seen any bullying in the schools where I have taught, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened…I am sure it has. Just know that there are more “good” and “kind” kids than the other…
Daughter is 28 now and I let her handle her own dramas….she was a “Peacemaker” in elem. school (all kids were trained-some were trained more on how to solve conflicts and the like). She weathered the storms nicely-she knew I had her back and listened to any problems she encountered.
Heather@hungryforbalance saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:31 am
I think we could all use a girl squad. I know I could. I do remember some exclusivity from my elementary school days and it was not fun. I am glad to hear that your daughter (and her squad) have avoided it thus far. I have a daughter (she is not quite 2) and I know it makes me nervous when I think about her going to school some day. Friends, frienemies, and boys Oh My!
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:41 am
HELLS TO THE YES with the OH MY. I always tell the husband I less dread the boy-thing (as it’s sooo much easier to bond over the “meh it’s just a boy yada yada) than the rejection by a girl she wants to be friends with. Motherhood is SO NOT FER SISSIES.
Michele @ paleorunningmomma saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:51 am
There are still plenty of mean girls around, at least where I live! My oldest is going into third and we’ve been encountering mean girls since kinder. She also has the personality that attracts them and then feels the hit, just as I did. The way I see it cliques are still cliques, though I suspect where I live has something to do with it.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:05 am
As the mom of boys, I haven’t had to experience “girl squads”, altho I do hear a lot from the moms in my clinic that this sort of thing still goes on! And as an adult, I’ve experienced it here in the neighborhood where I live. I stopped going to GNOs in the ‘hood because even though I was invited, there is such a sense of inclusion and inside jokes…it just feels bad. At 52, I don’t need to feel badly about myself!
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:40 am
YES. ((whispers)) I really do wonder if it’s that way in my ‘hood as well. Ive not done the “XX Grade Moms Night” here yet for that reasons…
Coco saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:15 am
I think she’s young yet. And you’re lucky. But you are doing the right things to be in tune to this.
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:39 am
and I think you NAILED it with the young and the fact we’ve lucked out with schools. Especially in Oakland. The kids there just seemed babyish — by which I mean NORMAL AND AGE APPROPRIATE 🙂 — in the greatest of ways. Im bracing for 6th grade. Already. hmmm may I call it working out? ISOMETRIC CONTRACTIONS? 🙂
Susan Bonifant saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:22 am
Gena made the comment about co-ed squads, and not to go off-topic but nothing balances out the wish for status and popularity among (even very young girls) like boy-members who bring totally different camaraderie motives to the group. I saw this trending a while back and it just seems to be really healthy for a mixed group to grow up together.
Chris saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:35 am
LOL my first thought… “What’s a Girl Squad?”
I’m still stumped. But as I’ve often said: “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a 12-year-old girl.”
Maybe because I was always 5-going-on-thirty-five, maybe because I’ve got only brothers, maybe because my only child is a boy, maybe because I married a boy from a family of only boys, whose father was from a family of only boys… but I’ve got to go Google Girl Squad now.
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 8:37 am
I was stumped too. It’s linked at the end of the post as well 🙂
Elle saysAugust 26, 2015 at 9:10 am
Girl Squad? I am so out of touch!
Erin@BeetsPerMinute saysAugust 26, 2015 at 10:15 am
Just recalling from my own childhood, there were LOTS of cliques even early on. Lots of very cruel behavior and bullying between girl groups and this was in the 80’s and early 90’s, so I don’t even want to THINK about what it would have been like of social media had been around. I didn’t really ever fall into those groups, so there seemed to still be an acceptance of “outsiders” like me, to choose from.
On the other hand, I’ve come face-to-face over the last decade with many girls I went to school with, who, despite nearing the age 40 are still sort of cliquey and mean. I am all for solidarity and empowerment if that’s what the girl squad movement is all about. I never really belonged to only one set of friends, because I just got along well with others, but I know that other friends of mine felt lots of exclusion throughout all of school. That being said, I’d never go back. Even if I was paid to haha!
Carla saysAugust 26, 2015 at 11:47 am
So interesting the meanie girls are still the meanie women as well. If by interesting you mean sad which I do. AND YES. Im with you. I was luck to (apparently :-)) go to a school where we were all the “odd kids” but Id not go back in a moment either. and you make another point I think about and share with my nine year old often. I hold in illusions her life is EASY PEASY because she’s a kid. Her stresses feel as big and scary to her as mine do to me…
Cat @ Reader/Eater saysAugust 26, 2015 at 12:54 pm
The Peanut starts school this year. I’m terrified.
I was excluded mostly and often, yet found my tribe of scientists, thinkers,
and performers. (you know I’m weird.)
And that “finding and curating” of my tribe took years.
It felt like eons. It felt like never.
I can only hope.
Lisa @ RunWiki saysAugust 26, 2015 at 12:56 pm
My daughter is in 3rd grade and although we’ve had little bits of drama, she seems to be oblivious to most of it and much to my delight, stays away from it while still being friendly with the drama makers. I have always encouraged her to have multiple friends and this has paid off, because when one group starts the drama, she is able to quietly back away and play with her other friends… it goes unnoticed because she does this even when there is no drama. She does this on her own and seems to handle friendships in a way that amazes me. She is loyal, plays with, “popular” girls and the “odd” girls (words in quotes we haven’t explained yet- and I put them in quotes because I don’t care for either one of those labels and what do they really mean afterall?) anyway, I worry about it a lot, more than she does and am really enjoying her oblivion to it all, because I know in a few short years, she will be much more aware… and that’s when things will get more hurtful. Being social is not my area of expertise, but I’ve had to put my introverted feelings aside and have tired to guide her in the direction that I see best- but in the end, all we can really do is instill confidence and empathy- a balance of both will hopefully get them through the social jungle called Middle and High School.
Carly @ Fine Fit Day saysAugust 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Girl squads sound AWESOME. I’m about to move to a new place and I want one! I really hope this is the new normal- when I was a girl, 4th to 6th grade was horrible with the frenemies. It all cleared up by 7th grade ( you go to a new school in 7th in Australia). Part of it is really luck of the draw as to whether there are mean girls in the same grade, I think.
lindsay Cotter saysAugust 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm
i grew up with 3 brothers, so the whole girl squad was not my thing. I don’t remember seeing them either. But then again, i think i was naive. Probably a good thing too! haha. I’m hopeful for you!
Helene Cohen Bludman saysAugust 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm
Keeping my fingers crossed that girl squads are the trend and bullying is on its way out. #hoping
GiGi Eats saysAugust 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm
I have no idea what is the new “cliques” because I don’t pay attention to such things. I am the leader of my own pack – and my pack consists of me… For I dance to the beat of my own drummer – and that drummer, happens to be me 😉
Yum Yucky saysAugust 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm
Don’t let GiGi fool you, Carla. She is talking about a pack of cigarettes.
Cathy Chester saysAugust 26, 2015 at 7:53 pm
Oh how I hate any kind of bullying. I hope this kind of behavior will be on its way out at last.
Kindness and compassion are always the right way to go. We teach by example; I hope all parents will teach this to their children.
Krysten saysAugust 27, 2015 at 9:19 am
I would like to think YES! As a girl who has long described herself as a girl’s-girl this is something I would love to see more of. And the idea that the younger generation is embracing this says we are moving in the right direction.
I believe women should support other women. Period. End of story. But that is not always reality. So this gives me hope. GO GIRL SQUADS!
Jody - Fit at 57 saysAugust 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm
Hoping for the better part. My school days were filled with cliques & judgement from elementary thru high school & later.
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero saysAugust 27, 2015 at 9:31 pm
Oh gosh I hope so: positive girl squad sounds so much better than clique.
Especially as the nerd who was left out of, and teased by all the cliques growing up.
Sagan saysAugust 28, 2015 at 7:38 am
It was a big shock to the system when we moved back to our small town in Canada after living in Europe for 3 years (when I was around 10 – 13)… my British school was full of expat kids who were constantly coming and going, so there were no cliques whatsoever. I was so NOT prepared for the crazy intense cliques that took place when we returned to Canada.
I hope things are moving away from cliques and more toward squads now!!
Dr. J saysAugust 28, 2015 at 9:44 am
My guess is that little has changed. We seem to be wired to be our own worst enemy. If she finds a safe sane place in school, she’ll be one of the lucky ones.
Jess @hellotofit saysAugust 28, 2015 at 11:12 am
“Squad” is a new term to me, and I hope it’s all for the better! I never saw much cliquey-bullying in middle/high school. Although in the third grade a new student who befriended my “best friend” told me I couldn’t be friends with her anymore…I think that was the only negative I experienced.