The Meanest Kid in School is Almost Always a Girl.

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This is a Mean Looking Girl.A big part of being a school administrator is working with students. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the biggest part (see: staff and parents and assorted other dramas… mostly involving bathrooms), but it plays a large role.

The majority of time that you get to spend with students involves working with them on discipline problems.

I say working with them because it isn’t just about handing out discipline. I think this is a common misnomer of new principals.

Often times you aren’t just handing out punishment, but guiding students through the process of how they can make better decisions (and when they have mastered this skill they will stop interrupting the principal’s lunch hour… it’s a win-win).

For me, teaching these skills is easily the most rewarding part of my job.

The other day I was reminded of a situation where I had the “opportunity” to help a young lady in a discipline matter.

If you have spent any time reading this blog (and shame on you if you have), you may have noticed that I don’t write about students or teachers with whom I presently work (see: Legal Department).

You may also have noticed that I have to be reminded of many of my stories (see: I am aging at a rapid rate).

That is the conundrum of getting older. On one hand you have lots of experiences that make for good stories, but on the other you can’t remember many of them (unless reminded or you have a flashback).

This particular situation came rushing back to me when the young lady in question asked me about it.

The conversation started with “Do you remember that time when you suspended me…?” As you can imagine, after a few years in administration you get this question a lot.

And as usual, I had to respond by saying “I kind of remember…” (translation…I have no idea what you are talking about… and it is quite possible that I have no idea who you are).

What is a big ordeal to a student is a small blip in a busy career of an administrator.

Former students can recite situations word for word while I am lucky to remember even bits and pieces of it.

The shortened version of the story: This girl was going to beat up another girl. And she felt confident enough to scream this fact down a hallway for all to hear.

Simple enough.

Except with girls it is never simple.

When this young lady arrived in my office she was angry. On an Angry Scale of 1-10, I would say she was about a 47.

My job was to figure out why she was angry. Easy enough. Even a rookie principal could simply ask her “Why so angry?”

Being more of a veteran principal, I also wanted to add “Why are you crying, shaking, talking so fast, and is there any chance you may beat me to death with my stapler?”

But if you have spent any time around teenage girls, you know there is really no reason to antagonize.

I stuck to the basics of trying to find out about the anger.

It turns out she was upset with the other young lady for flirting with her former boyfriend.

You see, the happy couple broke up 8 months before she made her appearance in my office. She hated him. With a passion. Not even a love/hate thing. She really hated him and had shared that with me on numerous occasions.

Knowing this, my next question was why, if she had broken up with the young man and hated him, was she upset with the other girl.

The answer was obvious. How I overlooked it, I will never know.

Evidently, the young lady about to get pummeled flirted with the former boyfriend two years ago at the county fair.

There you have it. She was going to beat up another girl in the hallway, all because she flirted with a boy (two summers ago) whom she now hates and refuses to be in the same room.

It’s the classic story of girl dates boy, another girl flirts with boy at county fair, first girl break up with boy, and then comes back to annihilate second girl in high school bathroom two years later.

I have seen it a thousand times.

The moral of this story is if you want a successful career as a school administrator, don’t worry about disciplining boys. That is pretty straightforward. One throws a punch. They wrestle. Fight is over. Boys shake hands. Friends for life.

Girls aren’t that simple. You might even say complicated.

Fear the girls. They are scary. And mean. And they come with long memories.

One last piece of advice. Never leave your stapler on top of your desk. Always keep it in a drawer.

It’s for your own safety.

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9 Responses to “The Meanest Kid in School is Almost Always a Girl.”

  1. Nadine N
    on Dec 29th, 2008
    @ 11:02 am

    I always enjoy your blog posts, particularly when you write about your experiences as a principal. Call me crazy, but I want to be a principal some day. I think I would be good at handling discipline issues – except with girls. Even though I was once a girl, it never ceases to amaze me how much girls love complicated drama. As a mother of two sons, I have the exact same observations about the difference between boys’ conflict resolution and girls’ conflict-never-has-resolution. It goes beyond logic and comprehension, so don’t try to make any sense out of it. Girls just need to have their (seemingly ridiculous) feelings validated. You must be good at that. In addition, it’s important to remember that girls never forget – that’s why being a husband must get kind of scary sometimes.

  2. Jim
    on Dec 29th, 2008
    @ 12:43 pm

    I agree, girls are scary! I think it’s the long memory that makes them so dangerous. Boys will get angry, act on that anger, then it’s over. Girls like to allow their anger to ferment over time, then they throw it at the object of their anger later. (Wives do the same thing, but please don’t tell mine I said that! Wives are scary, too!)

  3. Jen
    on Dec 29th, 2008
    @ 12:55 pm

    Heheheheh. Yup, like Nadine I only have sons (three of them) and for a while I thought it was my fine parenting that the boys didn’t hold grudges and got over things easily and [list of other affable traits here].

    Turns out it’s just boys. I’ll take the loudness and wrestling over the drama and screeching any day. I’m so glad that there are OTHER people raising all the girls.

  4. Charlie A. Roy
    on Dec 29th, 2008
    @ 4:20 pm

    Great post. We’ve spent the past November struggling with girl to girl bullying issues and myself and two deans are ready to throw our hands up about it all. Does anyone know what actual effective strategies are for dealing with these issues? Throw in their propensity to post mean things on facebook and send charming midnight text messages to eachother and the whole things makes me an advocate for single sex education. Are there any resources on the issue?

  5. Pat
    on Dec 30th, 2008
    @ 4:21 am

    Girl fights are nasty to break up too so stop them before they ever start! As for remembering the past, we were out eating breakfast when this lovely young woman with children came up to us. Apparently when she was in high school I called her parents about her being disrespectful and got her in major trouble. In fact they talk about this almost every Thanksgiving and she wanted to thank me for changing her life for the better! (What a relief! At first I wasn’t sure where this was going!)

  6. Dave Sherman
    on Dec 30th, 2008
    @ 7:57 am

    Yep, you nailed it. Dealing with girls at school or at home (I’m a dad of two girls) is much harder than dealing with boys. The girls are often much more vindictive and mean to each other, and they don’t easily let go of issues. They hold grudges. I also have noticed that the girl behaviors we see in school (and in my house) don’t go away when the young ladies become adults. I have seen too many moms act the same way as their daughters (sans the hair pulling). Often the moms keep their daughters’ social issues alive well after I thought I had cleaned up the mess. BTW, my own wife is the same way – but please do not tell her I wrote this. She will never let me forget it!

  7. Jackie Ballarini
    on Dec 30th, 2008
    @ 9:58 pm

    My time with the kids in the family over break:

    (Five and Seven Year boys) “You took my legos” followed by a punch. They were fine after that.

    (Three and four year-old girls) “You hurt my feelings first.” “No, you were mean first” Arguing continued and continued and …

    I’ve found it just gets worse in high school. I have no solutions. Help.

  8. Angela
    on Feb 7th, 2009
    @ 4:45 pm

    Just got your tweet about the newspaper printing this article. It was excellent. Although I teach third graders, I volunteer weekly at a juvenile correctional facility for girls. You have NAILED their character. The inability to let things GO is what causes so much of the violence between them. Very sad.

  9. That Kid. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 8:18 am

    [...] shouldn’t say “him”, but let’s be honest.  99% of the time it’s a him. (could be a girl… actually, no it [...]

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