She fussed. She fretted. Finally, she decided, the most important element of her transition into the church youth group would be the purchase of some Nike tennis shoes.
For the last year, Krystal's wardrobe had consisted of stretch pants and Tazmanian devil cartoon shirts (plus the blue and black cap turned backwards). I longed for her to develop a feminine side, but it seemed awfully risky to her. We talked, clashed, conspired.
One girl in particular bothered her. "That Tiffany girl thinks she's better than me, in fact she thinks she's better even than Julie." Julie, my older daughter, was indeed a beauty and a personage in the youth group. But this other teenager ruled the roost. The music minister had warned me that no decisions were made about the youth without Tiffany's approval.
I gathered together one of my instant parent speeches. "Krystal, you have never let anyone intimidate you before. Why start now? I don't think Tiffany and her group will even let on that you exist. But if she does, just tell her that it's your planet, and she should step off."
I wordlessly reproached myself for such combative advice, but my loss for better grew from the fact that the young lady concerned was a manipulator of adults as well as young people.
Krystal's eyes glinted, she squared her shoulders--and she began to cut a swath in the youth group. In fact, she cleared a path for all the 7th graders, square, sturdy little girls like herself who didn't bow to Princess Tiffany. A month later, Tiffany was wailing to Julie, "Who does she think she is? Your sister tells people I dress like a hoochie. You tell her I'm going to fix her. No one talks about me that way."
Krystal just laughed when she heard of it. Tiffany never did find anything effective to do to her. The older girls would gradually diminish in power as they eased toward graduation, the usurpers would take their crowns and scepters, and be much more gracious to the new inductees in the following generations of gawky junior high girls.