Year 7 girl dramas seem to be the main focus of my teaching at the moment. I don’t know if it’s hormones, the weather or the canteen specials that are behind it, but the problem is constant.
We all know that teenage girls can be terrible to each other — best friends to your face and the first to gossip and badmouth behind your back. Subtle scathing looks directed across a classroom can reduce a girl to tears whilst the boys in the room sit back mystified and wonder what just happened.
“They keep ignoring me.”
“Simone keeps giving me dirty looks.”
“Sarah and Marley keep leaving me out of everything.”
“Tahlia keeps posting mean things about me on Facebook.”
I, for one, am glad that social media did not exist when I was going through those difficult teenage girl years. Vile comments and sarcastic observations used to come flying out of my mouth with alarming regularity, often aimed at those I classified as my friends. I was also at the receiving end of many a putdown and hurtful remark.
There were whispered remarks behind hands in classrooms, bitchy conversations on the phone at night and the constant changing alliances within the same small group of friends. At least none of my nastiness and hormonal rants are recorded anywhere unlike the cyberspace footprint being left behind by today’s teenagers.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe Amy is wearing that top again. Like, doesn’t she have something else she can wear? It’s embarrassing just to be seen with her.”
Whilst no less hurtful when delivered live, at least the comment is not recorded for the world to see. If, at some point in the future, the two parties repair their friendship, the comment might be remembered but cannot be revisited by scrolling back through newsfeeds and messages. And, let’s face it, young girls change their alliances on an almost hourly basis. The girl who was hated yesterday may well be the best friend of tomorrow. It’s hard to keep track of who is in with whom, and who is not speaking to each other.
“I’m never speaking to Amanda again. She’s been ignoring me all day and she is talking about me behind my back to Hannah and Fiona.”
“Hannah and Fiona messaged me last night and told me they want to be friends again and leave Amanda out of it.”
“Amanda is my BFF. We just stick together now and ignore Hannah and Fiona.”
It is enough to make your head spin. As a year 7 form teacher I almost need a daily chart showing the current alliances and disputes so that I am in the loop. Maybe this could be emailed out to parents at the end of each day so they know the state of play before their child gets home. I’m sure this would reduce the number of phone calls I deal with each day and show everyone that their daughter is normal and so is everybody else’s.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.