See Mom Run: About That Time I Dropped the F-Bomb in Sixth Grade

Robin admits it: she was a mean girl in middle school. How does she keep her daughter, Livvy, from following in her footsteps?

A few weeks ago I went out to dinner with some old friends. Real old. Like, nursery-school old. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we chatted about the kids. You know, the usual. When we got around to the reminiscing portion of the evening, a particularly unflattering story about me came up. One in which I, for no apparent reason other than that I was in sixth grade and you do some really stupid shit when you are that age, went up to a friend at her locker and said “f*&% you.” Out of the blue. Like I was asking her for the time. Or telling her that I really liked her Cavariccis. (As if. They weren’t popular until we were in seventh grade. I just like talking about Cavariccis.)

Let’s dissect the situation for a moment, shall we? Okay, this was middle school, a time where fickleness is king. You’re dating (and by “dating” I mean calling each other on the phone every night and saying absolutely nothing and sitting next to each other at the lunch table in much the same fashion) David one day and Jeff the next. You’re best friends with Tracy on Monday and Dana on Tuesday. Your group of friends singles out one of its own to be super-duper mean to each week (it happened to me, too), giving you the freedom to drop the f-bomb on one of them out of nowhere. It was like Nagasaki, but with EG Socks and Scrunchies. Horrible. This is someone I’ve been friends with since we were three years old. Who did I think I was doing something like that to her?

I’ll tell you who I was … I was a “mean girl.”

Before Tina Fey wrote a kick-ass screenplay. Before Lindsay Lohan gave a stirring performance, did all kinds of weird stuff to her face, got an ill-advised dye job, and then completely lost her shit. Before anyone even knew the name Regina George and put a name to this phenomenon, there were mean girls. Cavegirl Regina was telling others that they couldn’t come into the “cool cave.” Elizabethan Regina was making fun of people’s petticoats for being SO last season. Polyester Regina was shunning her friend for getting the Dorothy Hamill Wedge after she had clearly stated that SHE was going to get one. And Totally Awesome Regina demanded approval rights over her friends’ Cabbage Patch Kid name changes (Lisette Fanny -> Allyson Michelle, anyone?), lest they be asked to find someone else to play with on the playground.

So with all of the Regina Georges in the world and throughout time (including, well, me), my question is this: how do I avoid raising a Regina or even a Regina disciple (a “plastic” for you Mean Girls devotees)? Is there any way around it? Or by virtue of the fact that Livvy is a girl, is she predisposed to mean-girl-ness? I mean, my parents are, like, really nice people who did a pretty good job raising my brother and me. (To this point, when my mom found out about the f-bomb I dropped on my friend, she slapped me across the face and grounded me until further notice. She doesn’t put up with bullshit. Go on with your bad self, Phyllis.) And yet, I had my mean-girl moments. The thought of my sweet little Livvy doing what I did doesn’t even seem possible, but perhaps my mom thought the same about me at that age. And the thought of someone Regina George-ing her? Watch out, New-Millennium Regina, because you’ll get more than a slap across the face from this mama.

Mommy’s Corner

There is a woman at my gym who, much like myself, frequents the Zumba classes. She magically seems to show up in each and every class that I am in. The difference between her and me, however, is that when I come into class I follow the proper etiquette and find a place behind whomever is already there. I, like most people, like being toward the front so I can see the instructor, and so I get there early to get one of these coveted spots. If I happen to be running late and am stuck in the back row with a limited sight line, so be it. It was my fault for not getting there earlier. But this chick comes into every single class late and promptly takes her place right behind the instructor. Doesn’t matter if the class is jam-packed and someone else happens to be standing RIGHT THERE. This is so not okay!! Did she pay extra for a special no-etiquette membership? Is she a descendent of the Newtown Athletic Club gods and therefore this is her birthright?

Whatever the case, last week I had had it up to here with her and decided to take a stand. I had my prime spot behind the instructor (got there 15 minutes early, mind you) and told my friend Alysha that if No-Etiquette-Zumba girl showed up and tried to stand in front of me I was going to do something about it. Class started and there was nary a NEZ is sight. About five minutes in, however, the door swung open and in she strutted. My anxiety was at a 10 and my stomach was in a knot. This is where it will end for you, NEZ. As NEZ dropped her stuff and began looking for a spot, I smiled at Alysha, squared my shoulders, and with the utmost confidence and swagger took about three steps forward, leaving her absolutely no space to slither into. Perhaps a bit defeated but not wanting to deign to stand in the back, she still managed to sneak into the second row. Directly in front of someone else, natch.

NEZ, you are on my list. And should you try to stand in front of me or mine in any gym class henceforth, I will bring a world of verbal pain upon you so severe that you won’t know what hit you. Because, remember, no matter how grown up I seem, I am a still mean girl who has no problem dropping f-bombs for, at least this time what I deem to be, an appropriate reason.


Robin Raskin lives with her family in Bucks County. She blogs Thursdays on Be Well Philly. Catch up with the series here.

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  • As a front row witness to at least 6 years of your adolescent life, I can attest that were NOT a mean girl. I WAS and you were my moral compass on many occasion. Phyllis CAN go on with her bad self because you were and are always a good friend with a good heart.
    xoxo, wallner

    • Robin

      I thank you both, but must protest. I may not have been the mean-EST mean girl around, but I definitely had some moments that I am not proud of. I just want to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. You know, Golden Rule and all that….

  • steph

    Funny Jess…I was thinking the same. Knowing Rob since she was nary a zygote, there has not been a single moment in our entire friendship that she has ever been even a smidgen of mean. Now, that being said, I observed the “moment” of meanness above and the consequences that occurred because of it and the fact that 25 years later it still haunts you says a lot about your character. It was a small moment in time that has defined who you are as a friend and how you treat others. A true “mean girl” wouldn’t haven’t given it a second thought. Love you… xoxo, steph (aka stephie)

  • Phyllis

    you are the most wonderful mean girl I know, of course I brought you up
    Love you

  • Jen

    So…here’s the deal…I think we have to teach our children that “cool” doesn’t mean “mean”. For some reason, the “popular” girls (and isn’t it funny that the popular girls didn’t necessarily have a lot of friends…they were just friends with other mean girls) always had an edge/nasty streak to them…they somehow seemed cooler…probably because they acted confident. And I think they were not liked, as much as feared. I think every girl becomes a mean girl at one point…every girl has a period where she wants to be the “coolest”…and, power corrupts, and cool and confident morphs to mean…I think it’s inevitable that all girls will experience it, you just have to hope that the mean streak doesn’t last, and that she might be an equal opportunity offender when it is her time. It is really easy to tell someone “below” your social level that they’re a loser…but it’s not easy to tell someone on your level or “higher” that they’re acting like a loser. I think if our children learn to treat everyone the same way (because they’re never going to always treat others the way they want to be treated), the overall mean girl stereotype will change too. Wow, that was some serious rambling on my part! And for the record…I agree with Steph…if you were a true mean girl, you wouldn’t dwell on it for a second, let alone decades later!