A mom’s story about trying to teach a few “mean girls” to be kind goes viral
After overhearing an exchange between teenage girls at Starbucks that made her uncomfortable, a mom and parenting expert decided to do something about it. The girls were gossiping and speaking cruelly of fellow classmates, so this mom reminded them that their words matter.
Author Michelle Icard was at a local Starbucks recently when she encountered a trio of teen girls she describes as “very pretty, very boisterous and horribly behaved.” Saying that their conversation made her “crawl out of her skin,” she writes, “So far they have laughed about 1) a girl who wrote a song for the talent show about being lonely (She is so weird!) 2) the crappy presents they have gotten in the past from friends 3) girls who copy them (the worst) OH and just now, how “Catherine wanted to be the lead singer but we took a vote and everyone wanted me instead so sorry Catherine you can be the manager.”
That’s all pretty heartless stuff to hear coming from anyone, let alone young teens. It’s easy to see where Icard’s urge to tell them to stop would come from. She vented at the end that it took all her restraint not to say something, so she complained to her Facebook friends about it instead.
One commenter suggested after reading her account that she do something about it. In a post shortly after, she writes, “I left and went to do my grocery shopping, conflicted the whole time, and I could see the girls still sitting in Starbucks as I drove home. I ran into my house, grabbed a note card and wrote a quick, heartfelt note.”
She then used her Starbucks app to order three mini frappucinos for the girls and left the note on their table saying,”Hi Girls. You don’t know me but it looks like you’re here studying and I wrote you a note of encouragement.” The barista agreed to give the drinks to them when they were ready and Icard left.
The note reads:
I sat near you today in Starbucks and listened as you talked. You three are obviously pretty and hard-working. I wish your kindness matched your pretty exteriors. I heard you talk about a girl who sang a song about being lonely in the talent show – and you laughed. About a girl who couldn’t be lead singer because you got all the votes, about crappy presents other people have given you…and you sounded so mean and petty.
You are smart and you are pretty. It would take nothing from you to also be kind. – M.”
At first blush, it’s easy to cheer this mom on and say she did the right thing. In many ways, she did. If my daughter, who’s rapidly approaching those terrifying tween and teenage years were talking that way, I would hope someone would stop her. If I can’t be there to parent, I would appreciate another parent stepping in and catching this sort of behavior as it’s happening.
But my inner teenage girl isn’t having this one bit.
Sure, Icard’s heart was in the right place, but the fact is, she doesn’t know them. And she has no idea how her note was received. Maybe she jarred them out of their little “mean girls” moment, or maybe she only made things worse. Caused them to rage and gossip even more about the lady who had the nerve to drop a judgy note on them when all they were doing was being jerky teenage girls sipping coffees.
The fact is, so many of us fell prey to this kind of thing when we were younger. I know I did, even if it was mostly a “I didn’t do it, but I didn’t try to stop it either” sort of thing. I witnessed plenty of “mean girl” behavior growing up and lightly participated at times myself to fit in but I rarely stepped in and put a stop to it. Looking back, I suppose it might have been nice if an adult told me to smarten up and be kind instead of cruel, but chances are, it would’ve fallen on deaf ears.
Not to mention, I grew into an adult with a full understanding of bullying, gossiping and right from wrong. I did eventually learn those lessons somehow, and it didn’t have to happen at the hands of some woman at a coffee shop who overheard five minutes of my life and decided to judge my whole character.
While I won’t condemn what Icard did since I deeply believe she was trying to do the right thing, I can’t fully support it either. These are lessons young people learn at some point, either by natural consequences stemming from their shitty behavior or the maturity that comes with age, helping them understand that behavior is wrong. It’s simply part of growing up.
We all go through these stages without an adult hovering and pointing out how we could do better. These girls probably will too. And if they don’t? A random note from a mom at Starbucks isn’t going to change a thing.