Lunchtime in the Girl’s Bathroom


  My tween usually goes to bed around 9:30 PM … but last night, we were both up way past our normal bedtimes. I sat on the side of her bed and tried my best to comfort her while she bawled her eyes out. My daughter has become involved in drama with some of her best friends that, unfortunately, has been blown way out of proportion. Actually, everything happened weeks ago – who knew 11- and 12-year-olds were already so good at holding grudges? I think one of the reasons my daughter was struggling so much last night was because of lunchtime.       

     Lunchtime has now become this huge source of anxiety because she feels like she’s not allowed to eat at her lunch table anymore. She thinks that if she sits down, the other girls will get up and leave. I tried to suggest that maybe she could sit by friends at the table who aren’t upset with her – but she had apparently already come up with a solution. And my heart completely shattered as she told me that she’ll “just hide out in the bathroom during lunchtime.” Tears started to roll down my face as she shared that, “it’ll be fine mom, I’ve done it before.”

     She’s not even going to actually eat, and it’s gut-wrenching to imagine her standing in a bathroom stall for 25 minutes, full of anxiety, feeling alone and sad. I continued to sit there and let her vent, trying to convince her that there are so many other options than lunchtime in the Girl’s bathroom. She shot down all of my suggestions though, and became so fixated on her chosen “solution” to lunchtime and her friend drama.

     When she finally stopped sobbing, and calmed down enough to try to fall asleep, I went into my own bedroom. My own tears started again, and they just wouldn’t stop. I was completely devastated. I realized that I can’t necessarily fix this situation, nor protect her from the behavior her friends choose. I think my mama heart was hurting more than normal because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened to Nex Benedict. Nex Benedict was a gender-fluid teenager in Oklahoma who had been tormented and teased for over a year. Nex recently died – the day after a fight with three older girls inside one of the high school girl’s restrooms. There are only so many instances of being bullied and being ostracized that a young person can take.

    I realize friendships are very difficult during the middle school years, that’s not lost on me. I had friendship issues as a tween, and was definitely bullied. But I swear friendships can be even more agonizing now than when I was in middle school. Drama, rumors, embarrassing situations used to be forgotten after the end of the school day or over a weekend. In 2024 though, tweens now have constant access to each other. They’re always communicating on a phone or other device via texting, Facetime, social media, and/or messaging apps. The rumors now continue to circulate after the end of the school day, and the issues are shared with way more people, definitely beyond the friend group. The drama thrives and grows as it becomes a source of entertainment for tweens during their evening and weekend freetime. 

     I unfortunately don’t have a happy ending to this blog, nor inspirational words to share. I wish I did. I guess I just wanted to share in case anyone else’s heart has been hurting for their tween or teen recently too – you’re not alone in your pain. You’re not alone in feeling helpless. You’re not alone in feeling sad. Hopefully the compassion and empathy that we feel for ourselves and our children can provide some amount of comfort, no matter how small.

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Maddie K
Maddie is a fulltime single mom to a biracial and bicultural daughter. When she's not busy surviving her daughter's tween years, you can find her reading. This proud book nerd's other favorites include: coffee, Harry Potter, Spanish, fighting the patriarchy, scuba diving, skincare, tacos, and always advocating for inclusion. Definitely an introvert, she has way too many pets, and no longer allows herself to look at the social media accounts for Stray Rescue or the Humane Society. A former educator, Maddie is now grateful to work from home as an analyst. Maddie is also a childhood AML Leukemia survivor, and has been battling Papillary Thyroid Cancer since she was 19 (without divulging her age, let's just say it's been way too long lol). She's spent most of her entire life in the St. Louis area - some of her favorite things about the city are: STL sports teams, the Zoo, the cat cafés, Novel Neighbor, and Imo's pizza (Provel cheese is still real cheese in her heart)!


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