poker face

When I moved from elementary to middle school, I changed best friends. The best friend that I had in elementary school was going to Catholic school for middle school, and despite the fact that we lived across the street from each other, our lack of social time at school was enough to break us up.

The best friend that I had for most of middle school, Kitty, was the youngest child of much older parents. She had several older brothers and sisters, but they were all grown and out of the house, and I think that her parents were very tired and had pretty much given up on parenting. She had the entire second floor of their house to herself—her mother couldn’t climb stairs, and her dad just didn’t seem interested in going up there.

She had great clothes—Jordache jeans that I was highly envious of, because my mom would never buy them. She was thin and pretty, and had the kind of early-adolescent body that could stop traffic. I slept over at her house all the time, and we would sneak out after her parents were asleep and guys would come by to talk to her—high school boys with cars, and some guys who were even older. I saw her do coke when we were both something like 12, which is also when she started having sex.

I was too much of a goody-goody then to do anything like that, but I went along with her because I was worried that something would happen. And I’m not going to lie—I thought maybe if I hung out with her, then some cute high school boy would notice me, too.

We drifted apart in eighth grade, and then she ended up going to the Vo-Tech, while I went to the regular high school. I had a new crowd of friends who were geeky theater people like me, and I didn’t see her much any more—even though she lived around the corner. I lost touch with her totally when I moved in with my dad, three towns away.

Now, I’m going to flash forward thirty years.

Right after spring break ended, two new girls joined the Bee’s class. We heard a fair amount about both of them from the Bee for a while, and then it became clear that the Bee was becoming very friendly with the Artiste. She talked about how much she liked this new girl’s fashion sense, and how she was really standing out in the class.

I didn’t notice much about her at the time, except for the fact that she had a pink wash in her hair—but hey, who doesn’t dye their hair pink once in a while.

At graduation, the Artiste showed up looking like she had been dressed by Lady Gaga. She was wearing five-inch stilettos and a dress that was cut waaaaay down in front–which is a kind of strange look on an undeveloped eleven-year-old. Landisdad commented that it looked like she was going clubbing.

Later that day, I chaperoned the pool party, and I noticed (because she was wearing a bikini) that she has a pierced belly button. WTF? I said something to the Bee about it being the kind of thing I expect to see on older girls, and then kind of dropped it (though I did mention it to landisdad).

We ran into the Artiste at the pool again last weekend, and she and the Bee were hanging out with the Bee’s best friend, the Peony. They all splashed around and had the kind of conversations that girls going into middle school have. Or so I thought. Until at lunch the next day, the Bee told us that the Artiste is going to get a tattoo next year.

I said something like, “she can’t get a tattoo, she’s not old enough.” And the Bee said, “no, the tattoo place already thinks she’s fourteen, because her mom told her to lie to them, so next year they’ll think she’s fifteen and she can get a tattoo.” Landisdad and I looked at each other in horror and I said, “well, I don’t want to say anything bad about the Artiste’s mom, since I’ve never even met her, but I think that it’s not a great idea for a parent to tell their kid to lie so that they can break the law.” Landisdad added, “we think it’s okay to break the law in some circumstances—like when it’s being unfairly applied to one group of people—but you should be willing to take the punishment for breaking the law, and admit to what you’re doing—not just break a law you don’t like for your own personal advantage.”

The Bee agreed, and said, “I know, and she wants to get a tongue piercing too! And did you know some people get penis piercings?”

ZOMG!

I put my poker face on, and said, “yes, I do know that,” and did not add, “and by the way, I’m pretty sure I was at least 21 before I ever heard of that.”

I may not know the Artiste’s mother, but I fucking hate her now, and the Bee is never, ever going to sleep over there.

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July 8, 2010. parenting ain't easy.

3 Comments

  1. Jeff replied:

    ACK!!!! I’m freezing my girls now, before they meet people like the Artiste and before I have a run in with the parents of people like the Artiste.

  2. elise replied:

    This kind of thing is often the topic of conversation at my breakfast club. Two of my friends have had problems with their kid’s friends and the root of it seems to be in the popularity of the kids. I have never had to be worried because my kids have always hung around with geeky (yet normal) kids. I do think that one of the main deciding factors as to whether the kids are popular is where they shop for their clothes. Designer/name brand clothing tends to get you in to the popular crowd. My kids have never really worn those kinds of clothes. One of my daughters tried them out (I brought her to the mall for a special trip) but was personally happier in Walmart stuff. My question is, do the parents play a part in helping their kids become popular by providing them with the special clothes? I guess a difference between me and my friends is that I have never really wanted my kids to be in that popular crowd. I think on some level, they and many other parents hope for their kids to be popular. I know this is stereotyping but a lot of those kids seem to be mean and overly “mature” in their attitudes. Because of this, my kids avoid them like the plague and that makes me happy. My friend told me that after her daughter purposely extracted herself from one of the popular crowds, a new friend said “wow, you’re nice, I used to think you were a real bitch when you hung around with those other girls”. Interesting don’t you think. When my friends and I discuss these things and whether we should try to control our kid’s friends we never really reach a definite conclusion. However, I do believe that there are ways that you can sway your kid’s choices. Like I said before, I am fortunate because I’ve always liked my kid’s friends.

  3. elise replied:

    OMG, my comments was almost as long as your post! eeeeek!

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