Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Teen Girls--Get a Grip!

Alfred called me on the way back from camp. Hanna had told her dad, who went to camp with them, that she didn’t feel like she had any friends among the teen girl group. Alfred had hoped something good would happen to the group at camp, but apparently it hadn’t. He asked me to “call them out” on their lack of friendliness—but I think that probably would make the situation worse. He also asked me to think of something that would “make them work together.” I got the feeling he was thinking of a low ropes course or something.

Not knowing that Alfred had talked to me, Sarah also came over to discuss the same thing. Her perspective was kind of interesting, and frankly, surprising, because she likes Hanna, a lot. “I talked to one of the other mothers involved,” she told me, “and she says that Hanna’s friendship skills are kind of lacking. She makes cutting remarks and she doesn’t seem to know how to be a friend.”

I told Sarah I would work on this, and I told Alfred I would pray about it. The fact is, though, I don’t know what to do. I really didn’t have many friends in high school—and I was such a driven, strange child, I hardly noticed. I spent just about all my time, other than when I was with JC and his sisters, in rehearsal. Choir and plays kept me quite busy. I wasn’t really friends with the people in choir, nor those who did theatre with me. The theatre kids were leading a very different lifestyle than I wanted to (sex in the sound booth was not an uncommon occurrence). I saw my relationships with them as friendly-professional. I don’t know if I had any real, close friends until college. Even the people I had been close to in middle school, and am close to now, distanced themselves during high school. Or maybe I distanced myself. It’s hard to reconstruct.

I never solved the teen girl friendship problem. My solution was to grow up. Thus, I feel doubly helpless in the face of this thorny mess. I care a lot about Hanna, and her life situation (parents with an embarrassingly messy and public divorce) is very similar to my own at her age—though luckily, I only had one brother to look after, instead of two, much-younger, siblings.

The girls are, beginning next month, going to be running class themselves, and maybe that will help. I feel like one problem the teens at my church face is that the adults do everything for them. The youth minister plans all the trips and tells them where to be and when for pizza parties and bowling. They never call each other and just say, “Hey, let’s hang out!” They’re very used to having a grown-up arrange that. I’m hoping that, by encouraging them to work together to put on this class every month, they will get over their interpersonal issues. I’ve been meaning to email Kassi about this. She’s about the most socially savvy person I know—and she’s 19, meaning maybe she can help this make sense to me.

No comments: