When we got there, I was highly amused at some of the outfits the kids had on. There were several girls wearing rainbow tutus and one had a plastic tiara on. Daughter and two of her friends were wearing what seemed to be every piece of jewelry they owned, daughter had a tattered looking denim skirt on with striped tights and a weird t-shirt. Friend one had gingham checked skirt with a frill around the bottom and fingerless gloves, friend 2 had on v-necked shirt & jeans and friend 3 had on a Hollister t-shirt and hoodie. (She was mortified since apparently none of the kids at the party had on Hollister or A&F clothes.) The mix was interesting.
Daughter informed me that most of the kids there were either "emo" or "punk" while friend 3 falls into the category of "preppy" and friend 2 was in the middle since she didn't have emo or punk clothes on but lots of black eyeliner and her shirt didn't say Hollister across the front in gigantic letters. We've talked about groups of kids before, and how they've changed since I was a kid, and daughter apparently identifies as "punk-alternative". Friend 3 said that daughter isn't "emo" because she smiles too much and doesn't cut herself - I had to laugh even as I was cringing. Cutting is more pervasive than I thought. All of daughters friends know at least one person who cuts regularly or has tried it. Daughter has another friend (she wasn't there last night) who is a cutter and both daughter and I have talked to her parents to make sure they know what she's doing. She's in therapy now but I'm not convinced her parents are taking it seriously enough. That's a post for another day however....
I used to think that the labeling was a high school thing but I am realizing now that it is much MUCH worse at the middle level. Fifth to ninth grades seem to be when the kids are sorting themselves into groups and woe to the kid who doesn't fit in anywhere. So I have one punk-alternative kid, one geek and one walking encyclopedia (that's what thing one's friends call him). Curiously though, daughter seems to be a bit of a chameleon and has preppy friends and geeky friends as well and fits in well to several different groups of kids. Her 13th birthday party last year was a riot because there were lots of kids here who never even spoke to each other but they were all friends with daughter. Husband and I were heartily amused at their awkwardness with each other and we laughed at the way they all eyed each other while daughter mingled among them.
The girls had a wonderful time last night and met lots of kids that they will be going to school with in the fall when they start high school. I was thrilled that the library and the city had put together an event aimed at the "alternative" kids and gave them a place to gather and hang out that was safe and supervised. These kids are a very talented and creative bunch that are too often unfairly maligned by adults.
It will be fun watching daughter and her friends, no matter what group they're "in", grow up and develop their individual talents and abilities.