Saturday, April 13, 2013

The One Universal Truth of Girlhood

No two girls are alike.  Some girls love tea parties and princesses.  Some girls love dirt and soccer.  Some girls love dirt and princesses but not soccer or tea parties.  We are a diverse bunch.  However, there is one thing that is true for every single girl across this great nation:

Groups of three do not work.

Never.  Ever. 

It is not until adolescence, or really, adulthood, that we are able to handle the complex social dance of three girls in a group.  And even then, it is fraught.  There are always two who are better friends than the third- it is a matter of being old enough not to care.  Social status is power, not size or strength, and within a group of three, the social power does not work.  The grid explodes.  Except, not.  The grid turns on itself.  The grid becomes HAL 9000.

Gracie takes gymnastics with two other little friends.  This did not initially occur to me as a problem, because there are eight girls in the class, and because her own sister is there, and one of the other girls also has a little sister, who will be three in a few months.  I didn't see it as a threesome until today- of course it is a threesome.  They are the ones who are friends outside class. The little sisters are, well, little.  They are their own group.  The group in class is a group of three.  It hit me like a bolt today.  I turned to one mom and said, "Oh my god, they're a threesome.  How did we miss that?!"  And her face fell, and she said, "Oh god, how DID we miss that?"  Because it. never. works.  And sure enough, the coach today came over to chat and said, "you know, they always get cliquey.  It happens every week. This week it was Gracie on the outs, and there was a lot of unhappiness."  So maybe I noticed that without knowing I did, and that was what finally made it click? Because it won't always be Gracie on the outs.  Sometimes it will be another girl's turn. That's how it works.  But maybe I sensed she was on the outs and that was how I figured it out?  I don't know.

I know that I have multiple very vivid memories of playdates with two other girls, and they always, always ended badly.  I don't remember a single playdate with two girls that ended well, except the ones I spent with my friend Katie and her sister, and that worked because they were sisters, so the same social power dynamic wasn't there.  I have always sworn I would not set up threesome play dates for my daughters, and I wouldn't send her on them either, and here we are, set up in a threesome.  I mean, we're not going to quit gymnastics over it or anything, I just can't believe I didn't notice it.

I would ask if anyone had ideas on how to make a little girl threesome work, but you know what?  You can't.  It can't be done.  It is the great unsolvable problem of female childhood.  Right there.

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