decision-scalesOne evening while the three of us were enjoying dinner on the deck, Page said excitedly, “I can’t wait for middle school!” This was the year before she was going to enter middle school. We asked her why, to which she enthusiastically responded, “Because that’s where all the action is!!”

My husband looked concerned and started to go pale.

“What kind of action?” we inquired. To which Page replied oh-so-seriously, “Good action, and bad action.”

My husband continued to look ill. I asked Page to give us an example of good action and bad action. She explained.

“Good action is that you have a lot more freedom. You can walk alone between classes and even outside across campus. And you have a locker and not a cubby.”

Peter started to get his color back…

“Bad action is mean girls. You know, popular girls.”

I explained to Page mean girls isn’t synonymous with popular girls, and that there will be many nice popular girls too. We talked about mean as a behavior choice anyone may make, popular or not, and of course our expectation that she never behave that way. She seemed to understand that distinction. Interestingly when we asked if she’d met any mean girls yet, she hadn’t, but she’s aware of the concept from the media and maybe the school counselors do preventative work in this area.

“Where the action is” – what a great phrase! So exciting! Every age wants to be where the action is; even as adults at work we know where the action is such as the best projects to be involved in, etc. But action is tricky, hence Peter’s anxiety. Fun and excitement have to be engaged in responsibly to be safe, and imposing limits on “the action” isn’t something kids are naturally good at. As parents we hope our words of caution help our kids make good safe decisions, yet we aren’t at all confident of that… because our memories are still in tact enough to recall all of the poor decisions we made in our teens and early 20s in the service of having fun.

Originally published at on October 18, 2013


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