I’ve had the pleasure of being around girls in their early teens quite a lot the past few years, and I have noticed a quirky turn of their conversation that has got me thinking.
One girl in the midst of a conversation with another girl will say something critical, blunt, or even hostile; pause; and then follow up immediately with a smile and “Just kidding!” Thinking it might have been a style of humor unique to one (particular) girl I know very well, I listened for it when these girls were together in groups, or chatting back and forth on Facebook, or in conversations I overheard while driving or waiting for them (I’m always waiting for them).
Over and over the same pattern. Critique, “just kidding,” then the other girl usually follows with a response that might be equally snarly and if not met with a light heart and smile in return. The first girl might answer with another blunt remark. Et cetera. I’ve often wonder how these relationships survive this emotional dodge and weave. And the answer is, many don’t.
I think that this particular stage of relationship building, coupled with the rocketing growth of body and brain in this age of adolescent girls makes this a way that girls are able to manage aggression with one another. In the same way that adolescent boys may push, poke and even swing at one another on a daily basis, girls push, poke and swing with words, attitudes and facial expressions that emote hostility and aggression.
I’ve not been reading the adolescent literature lately, and so I can’t quote the latest author that has put this observation into article or book form: I guarantee someone has had this thought before me. But I wonder if any one who is around this age group (11-17) of girls from a different part of the US or outside our country shares this or a different observation.
I know a few readers of this blog are living around the world in quite different cultures. If you have an observation, comment below. I’d love to hear what you’re hearing! No kidding.