The way 8-year-old girls use their mouths as assault weapons, torturing and humiliating friends and enemies alike with words, it’s amazing one has never been called to The Hague for crimes against humanity.
I witnessed the depth of their pettiness when last Friday I led a group from Savannah’s class in an art project.
My fail rate for group projects, as Savannah so often reminds me, is high. One year, I created a strawberry smoothie tsunami when I spilled a fresh batch outside the school cafeteria at lunch hour. So, when I arrived at school on Friday, I was prepared, just not for the job handed to me: fight referee.
During the 45 minutes I was on site, insults were hurdled so fast, but delivered so subtly, it was hard to keep track of the alliances, which often changed before they could be identified. The fight for Queen Bee position was constant.
I got a glimpse of the outcome while setting up the art table outside class.
“Scram Justin!” Charlotte, a frail, blond hissed to a boy who tried to join the group, prompting the kid to scramble back to the room. I know the mom and dad as nice people so was shocked by her tone. No one else batted an eye.
The interaction between the two confirmed my theory: boys, by nature, are simpletons and could care less if someone called them the S word – stupid – and certainly wouldn’t let it interfere with their dodge ball game. Why argue if we can resolve things with a punch is the outlook; whereas, girls are unforgiving and remember every dig, slight and accusation for the rest of their life.
That day I would see several pairs go from calling each other “mean,” crying, swearing to never speak to each other again to laughing and planning a play date. And this is pre-puberty.
When Shari, a figurine-like, wide-eyed brunette, accused Josie of moving her art project, I had reached my saturation point. As words like “diva” and “mean” and “deliberate” flew, I packed my things. Let the teacher be the peacemaker. But, before I could get out the door, she summoned me to the crime scene.
“Savannah’s mom took time out of her day to do something nice for the class,” she said to the girls. “You need to apologize for your behavior.”
They sat stoned face as they stared right through me. They reminded me of those killers you see on death row.
“Nah, it’s okay,” I said. “They were fine.”
God forbid I tell the truth. They might turn on me and now start calling me fat or stupid.