Rhymes With Fuchsia

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mean Mom

After running some errands today we decided to stop at the local bookstore, one of our favorite weekend haunts. Miss B immediately headed off to the young-adult series section, returning seconds later clutching the newest Clique book.

Deciding that a bit of vetting was my parental duty, a couple of months ago I had braced myself to read at least a little of one of these books, wondering as a former teenage superdweeb if anything labeled Clique could be any good. Within a page and a half I had my answer.


Randomly selected excerpt:
It was as though everyone suddenly had a brutal case of social amnesia, and all knowledge of her being this year's alpha-alpha had been deleted from their memories. Were girls so easily distracted by boys? And were boys really so easily attracted to girls with horrific style? A visit to CosmoGirl's FAQ archive was a must as soon as she got home.

Massie stepped onto the cold, dew-covered grass, which poked at her parrafin-waxed feet and most likely stained the leather on her black snakeskin Prada sandals. "This place is so over," she grumbled as she zigzagged through clusters of overdressed, borderline tacky bodies invading her lawn.

Now, as this comes quite early in the book one might suspect, and I do suspect and indeed sincerely hope, that this snooty kid is being set up for a fall here. But, as best I can tell from random skimming, the whole book is like that. Everyone is all about who's up, who's down, who has and doesn't have the right clothes, hair, makeup, all of which costs a fortune. (Since when do eighth graders wear Prada?) There are no actual friendships, just a pecking order.

We had bought Miss B several of these books a while ago, without quite realizing what was inside them. Our mistake. Today we told her that while we weren't going to forbid her to read anything, we did not like the books' values, and that if she wanted any more of them she'd have to buy them herself. Needless to say, she was not pleased.*

And thus did I become a Mean Mom. What would you have done?
*I should add that we did buy her several other books, including, at the suggestion of one of the employees, the first of the Tamora Pierce Circle of Magic series. There are ten of them, so we hope that will keep her occupied for a while. I also plan to try her on the Anne McCaffrey dragon books and to order the second and third Sanna books. Please keep crankin' 'em out, Roxie.


  • The very same. Mean moms rock (or so I sincerely hope, as Eldest was pretty po'd at me earlier today ....).

    By Blogger Ruth, at 10:43 PM  

  • I forgot the big question ... did Miss B end up buying any of those books for herself?

    By Blogger Ruth, at 10:44 PM  

  • Oh, the battles I had with my teen daughter! But now she's an adult and tells me occasionally things like "thank you for teaching me some manners" and "that (maneuver)was very effective. I'll be remembering that when I'm raising my own kids." Stick to your beliefs and in the long run, she'll appreciate your values. That's one thing I always knew about my mom: I chafed at a lot of her rules, but I always knew what she stood for and what I could count on.

    By Anonymous Chris, at 11:04 PM  

  • I wouldn't have done anything different. I check my stepson's books and if I don't think they're appropriate, I don't buy it for him or let him check it out from the library. I'm like you, he would have to buy it himself.

    By Blogger WandaWoman, at 11:12 PM  

  • Ten books in the Emelan universe starting with the Circle of Magic, and fifteen in the Tortall universe starting with the four about Alanna. Tamora Pierce can keep her reading for quite a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:59 PM  

  • As someone who spends probably too much time in bookstores, that's one area I tend to avoid. It's interesting to see that such stuff is out there. Hmmm...books about VALUES. That's a great idea. Good for you far actually taking the time to inspect what she's reading. And, kudos to her for WANTING to read in a time when kids would rather be surfing the web, shopping for the newest trends, etc.

    By Anonymous Dave Daniels, at 6:15 AM  

  • I'd have done the same except it would probably have been at the library and not a bookstore. If you aren't mean then you aren't doing a good job.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 7:27 AM  

  • I would have done exactly the same. Parenthood is the only job where, if you do it wrong, you don't find out until it's too late! It is our job to stick to our guns, and it is their job to test our boundaries. And if she didn't deep down know you love her, she'd be too afraid to tell you what a Mean Mom you are!

    By Blogger Joan, at 9:14 AM  

  • Sadly, I have 8th graders who wear designer labels. So many of them even carry designer purses. To middle school.

    Good on you for putting your foot down. This kind of "literature" (along with a lot of the TV programming out there for that age group) is really just messing up the current generation.

    By Blogger Jena the yarn harpy, at 10:01 AM  

  • Yeah, that crap gets picked up by the big presses, but I have to self-publish. There ain't no justice.

    If I send you th manuscript of Sanna 3, would you write a blurb for me? I need back-cover enticements. (And vet it as well. Sanna is growing up, and there are a couple more "mature" scenes.I'm hoping innocents won't "get" what happens.)

    By Blogger Roxie, at 10:11 AM  

  • ooo, Tamora Pierce - big thumbs up. Should she fun out of those (ha!), Mercedes Lackey's also well-liked by my teenagers.

    Being mean is part of the job. You're her mom; she'll have loads of friends in her lifetime, but only one of you. I try to be aware of what kind of life I'm showing my daughters a woman can have - daunting.

    By Blogger Liz, at 10:30 AM  

  • Well, I'll confess to having read my way through many a cheesy Harlequin romance (back in the dinosaur age), but after a while, I sussed out the formula and gave 'em up because then they were boring.

    I always tell my kid "Mean moms are the best kind."

    By Blogger Alwen, at 1:07 PM  

  • since i'm not a parent i can't really comment on what i would have done. but i'm glad you didn't forbid her to read these books out right because i do know that as a kid, i would have found a way to read them.

    probably what will happen though is that she'll outgrow them and they'll eventually bore her to death.

    By Anonymous maryse, at 2:27 PM  

  • I think you made the right call. If those books are that important to her, she should pay for them, but I'm hoping they aren't because they sounds dreadful.

    By Blogger Cookie, at 6:41 PM  

  • Like you... Oh, yeah, and like Ruth said, it'd be less painful if the kid pays for the trash herself. You can get her some good stuff. We've totally enjoyed the twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (might have her name spelled wrong there). My nieces like the 'gossip girl' books, ::shudder::! So far my boy-o likes pretty decent books.

    By Blogger knitnzu, at 8:21 PM  

  • Oh, and whenever the kid complains 'you're so mean', I say right back 'yup, and I'm your mother'

    By Blogger knitnzu, at 8:23 PM  

  • My youngest was absolutely mad for the Clique books, much to my dismay. I didn't forbid them, but I didn't much like 'em. I don't recall if I paid for any or not, but I think she bought the bulk of them with gift money.

    As we were going through her books for the move, she donated the entire collection to Goodwill and said she couldn't believe she ever read them. Yay!!!

    Tamora Pierce is really big at our house, Stephanie Meyer and both my girls really like the Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block, but your girleen might be a little young for those yet.

    By Blogger Will Pillage For Yarn, at 1:19 AM  

  • I don't think our opinion matters all that much. I think yours does, and you stated it. I like the idea of not forbidding, but making her step up with her own dollars if it is worth it to her. And communicating your message about the book at the same time.

    By Blogger Laurie, at 6:14 AM  

  • Paraffin waxed feet? Huh? (And isn't there a hyphen missing?)

    By Anonymous Beth S., at 11:04 AM  

  • Oh, no, it's in there. But I still don't get it.

    By Anonymous Beth S., at 11:05 AM  

  • I tell the QP every other day or so that that's my JOB - to be mean.

    I would have (and have) done the same as you. :-)

    Maybe we could start a Mean Moms group or something? Or have a Mean Mom signal (kind of like the Bat-signal)?

    I also require the QP to bathe, and brush her teeth, and go to bed...all Mean things! :-)

    By Blogger AngeliasKnitting, at 12:15 PM  

  • I like to remind Dobby that I am not here to be her friend, I'm her mom and I'm not out to win any popularity contests, either. ;o) Good for you for looking through what she is reading and acting accordingly. Whatever happened to 'Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret' being the height of shocking tween books..? ;o)

    By Anonymous JessaLu, at 1:45 PM  

  • My tendancy would have been to let her read the book and then talk about how my values were different and how I thought the book was unrealistic. That said, go for it. She's your kid and you need to parent her following your values, not mine.

    By Anonymous emma, at 11:47 PM  

  • I applaud you, Mean Mom!

    By Blogger Janice, at 10:06 PM  

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