Just Write: Mean

November 27, 2012

Just Write.


I bundle up Miss M. in heavy clothes for our walk to the school bus stop.  Miss D. had an early student council meeting, so it’s just us chickens.

As we walk the two short blocks to the bus stop, her mittened hand in mine, I start to feel thick in the throat. Every step we take forward, I tuck my feelings into my white puffy parka, away from harm.

But there is. There is harm here.

I have begged Awesome Stepkid Ro to walk the girls to the bus stop in the morning for several months. He’s been…well…awesome. I’m so grateful. But some mornings he can’t, and then I have to walk The Road.

It helps to have a small, mittened hand in mine as we walk.

I have heavy gloves on, too. I have Raynauds Syndrome–a little genetic gift from Mama. My hands and feet are always stone-cold. Mama assures me that this disease is no big deal. No harm, no foul. “Cold hands, warm heart,” Mama says.

The ladies at the bus stop must have flames shooting out of their palms, because there’s ice in their collective veins. I scan the crowd, looking for the one woman who is nice to me. Not there. Shit.

Miss M. and I stand at the corner, look backandforthandbackandforth, and determine that it’s okay to cross. My hand tightens around hers.

It’s a circus over there–a riot of backpacks and binders, braided hair and boys who shuffle feet, mesmerized by dirt.

M. immediately rushes to greet the two dogs in residence; if M. had a tail, hers would wag with the same strident motion.

I’d rather hang out with the dogs.  I’ll take tails over tight, Rubber Band smiles–the ones they give before turning around, a wall of winter-coated backs.

The ladies chat and laugh with their lattes in hand, and I wander over to the dogs. I’m allergic to dogs, but I’m better off with them. Dogs are good judges of character…right?

I fondle buttery puppy ears and kiss my daughter twice on each cheek before she gets on the bus, for good measure.

I walk home alone, my hand already missing the little mittened one.

I am okay.

I am different.

I don’t fit. The human equivalent of last year’s dress.

But what’s the fun in fitting, anyways?


{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby November 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

I beg to differ, my friend, but isn’t it funny how some things just don’t seem to change? We would like to think that as adults we have moved past the cliques and the need for acceptance, but at times we revert right back to the days of the bus stop and choosing our seats. The important thing is that now we can see that the cliques that won’t “have” us are the ones that we really don’t want to be part of at all.

Different is good, at least in my book.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:28 am


We odd ducks have to stick together. :)


Jennifer November 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

I feel where you are coming from, I often feel like I’m on the fringe of the moms and after 7 years I have yet to figure out how to get into the group and feel comfortable at the same time. I wish I could say it doesn’t bother me when I feel like I’m on the outside but sometimes it still does and I haven’t figured out how to change that feeling yet.

I find it interesting that I can encourage being different in my son but not in myself. I wonder why?

I agree with Abby, different is good.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:29 am


You nailed it–we tell our kids that it’s okay to be different, to be themselves without fear. But ourselves? Not so easy.


Lindsey November 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

Oh, I so relate … one learning for me has been that in my awkward silence, some others interpret me as being mean and aloof – when really it’s just that I am dying inside and totally unable to even say hello. Even my husband once noted that for me to say “hi” and wave to someone when I run past them “costs me a lot” – more than a normal person. Indeed it does.
I’ll take your kind of different any day. xoxoxo


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

We share the same. exact. problem.

Why am I not surprised to discover this?

Smiling and waving at you <3


Justine November 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

Different isn’t a bad thing at all. I started running with a group of moms, and they say hi to everyone we pass. I felt like something was wrong with me because it felt so unnatural to me to just greet any and all strangers. Then I started running alone and I like my solitary sessions. The no-talking, no-eye-contact, no-awkwardness of just cruising along and not having to wonder if I should say hi or not. I’m not unfriendly. I just don’t need to prove that I am with everyone I see on the street.

I’m also that mom who doesn’t strike up conversations easily with other parents at playgrounds. Again, I’ve learned to be okay with that. We all have our thing right?

And btw, love that picture!


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:33 am


Isn’t that picture great? That is one fearless Odd Duck. Love her.

And you.


Nikki November 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

LOL- I’ve never fit. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed having babies. I always had a built in excuse to step away or not fully engage…a baby needed bouncing or a toddler needed distracting. But then they grew up & now will run off & leave me just sitting there. And I’m married to “Mr. Social”. He’s the kind of person who can strike up a conversation with anyone and who everyone knows.

Whereas I prefer to hide out in the back.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:34 am


My husband could get along with a fire hydrant. He’s that good. And then he married me, “The Mole.”


Annette November 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

They won’t open up their circle for you? It’s their loss.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 9:35 am


Thank you. I don’t think it’s necessarily deliberate, but I have such horrible social anxiety that I think they can smell it. I’m always on Team Awkward.


Katybeth November 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

I will share a secret as someone who has chaired countless auctions, holiday fairs, room parented, and run the PTO…the real problem is those other moms don’t notice you at all. My main goal in all my school volunteer work was building community. . .self serving really the more people I liked and liked me the larger my pool of volunteers. :-D. I was impossible to say no too. People stick with what they know, right? You looked for the one “mom who was nice too you.” Those other moms look for the moms that are nice to them. There are a couple of moms who are pains and tattle tales but for the most part they are just trying to get there kids on the school bus and keeping their hands warm with their lattes. They don’t have nice mom’s like you that buy them gloves. Poor things. You can cook, write, are raising children that are kind and responsible, fear puberty, worry your children will be included and liked, those other moms share most of your concerns. Look for similarities not differences….catch a smile and use baby steps and help them notice you. They don’t dislike you–they don’t know you….and that is a problem you can fix! .Sigh. I can’t help myself. Sorry. Off my soap box now…do you have anything to eat?


Katybeth November 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

Sorry I may have (in my exuberance missed the point) being different is of-course wonderful and fine and perfect!!


TKW November 27, 2012 at 11:31 am


You made me smile. Come over for some guacamole.


Alexandra November 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

Me too.

Cold hands (Raynaud’s, but i get the hives and swollen ears) and warm heart.

Not a kind soul among my pack of wolves.


Do people not reflect at the end of their day? Do they not feel that twinge that pulls in the middle of their chest telling them “You did NOT do a good job with your day.”

I love your blog, I love your words. It’s comforting to share our existence, but i do wish we didn’t have so much in common. You know? The being frosted out part.

Glad I found you, it feels as soothing as a warm mug in my hands.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 11:33 am


You’re so lovely. I sure hope that mug contains a hot buttered rum? xo


michelle November 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

I think I’d be the mom who sighs a monstrous sigh of relief seeing you cross the street. Then we’d just look at each other with the WTF get me outta here look.

I don’t fit in either. And my kids are total freaks :)



TKW November 27, 2012 at 11:34 am


All Hail the Freak! Wish you were here to help me pull it off…


Arnebya November 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

In a perfect world, everyone would know and acknowledge everyone else’s greatness and no one would be unnecessarily excluded. It is their loss, know that. Also, bitches.


Jennifer November 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Exactly. I think Arnebya and I need to make a trip to CO.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Jen and Arnebya,

Y’all come on down. I’ll make the veggie lasagna and shake the martinis.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 11:35 am


Your last remark made me laugh. You never sugar-coat, which is why I love you.


Kristen @ Motherese November 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Hewing the lumber for our compound now.



TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm


I will bring the Everclear Drinking Fountain. xoxo


Jane November 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

You fit in here. With us. And that counts for something, right? Hugs, dear friend. (Sadly, I know how you feel.)


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm


I know you do. Much love, sista.


ayala November 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm

All I know is that you are awesome! fitting in is overrated ! :) Love the pic :)


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm


I think I love that picture more than the pretty ones of her. We are the dorky and proud!


The Meaning of Me November 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

See, this is why I love your blog – could often be me writing these words, right down to the cold hands thing (RA and my hands/feet are my worst places). You clearly have such a warm spirit (your Mom is obviously right) and not everybody can handle people like that. I think that is often why “the group” shuts people out – they are uncomfortable with the spirit and confidence of those who are different than the so-called standard. I often find myself the “fringer” – always have. But I have learned over my life that the fringe is generally a very nice place to be. It’s OK not to fit in everywhere. Honestly? There are some places I don’t really want to fit. I only hope that I can teach my daughter – already a clear fringer – to be as OK with it as I have come to be. I think you have a great soul – heck with those who don’t think so.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm


I can pretend that I’m confident for about 2 minutes. I have social anxiety, and it messes with your head and your heart.

I have always been a “fringer” too–and use that exact same term–and you are right. I’m friends with women (who were then girls) who had nothing in common with me except the love of music and a yearning for a place to belong.

They ground me still.

ps: Miss D. is a “fringer,” too. Fringers, Unite!
pps: I wish you were at the bus stop.


The Meaning of Me November 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

If I were at the bus stop, I would bring hot coffee and we could be all snarky and cool-kid-like in their general direction together. That would be fun.


TKW November 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I know what we’d do in their “general direction!” Monty Python rules! Ha!


Jennifer November 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Is it weird that I want to come up there and tell those bitches to kiss my ass? I can not even imagine someone being mean to you… my friend. They don’t know what they are missing.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Forget about beating their asses. Just come.


Lisa November 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

OK, so I have been a bit of a stalker on here for a while, following your recipes for a couple months etc. Your post about Miss. D the other day shouted out to me and your reply about her being ADHD like my own tornado girl made my heart sing. I started reading your blog from the beginning and I have a few things to say about our parallel lives.

a- I have an Awesome Step Son – 21 years tomorrow (eek!)
b- my daughters are currently 7 (Freyja – the tornado) and 2 (Rosie – I want to be a tornado too)
c- my elsest possibly only has a list of 10 foods, and I also count ketchup as one of them (and maybe chocolate…. really, you take what you can to make the list longer…)
d- I was an outcast at school (some close friends but otherwise ignored or bullied), shy as heck and ignored through most of university and my 20’s (again except for a small few) and nearly threw up at the thought of being one to start a conversation.

Me now – the mouthy annoying one that talks to everyone, whether they like it or not.

Why? Left Uni and the only job I could get was as a hotel receptionist. After 8 months jobless I figured it was worth getting over my shyness. I’ve worked in so many jobs since then, and had to deal with all kinds of people. We emigrated to Canada from the UK 6 years ago and I had to make all new friends, go to playdates, make myself meet people. I hated it, I nearly cracked but I kept on and now I am ridiculously friendly with everyone, because I know that maybe they are the shy ones (I seem to have a shydar (its like gaydar but less flamboyant!)

I also found out that a load of the people who bullied me and ignored me in school actually were quite scared because I appeared so confident and different and wasn’t really bothered about not being in ‘the group’. Turns out kids in the years below me, and even some of those bullies, ask my Mom whenever they see her, how am I doing, tell her how much they wished they could have been like me.

So I say, give it a try, speak up (even if you feel like you may decorate their shoes with your breakfast) and if you win even one over, you are making a difference. Its hard, I know – my eldest has a highland dance class and the moms there could write the damn users guide on cliques (there I have tried and failed). And my advice if you fail is – it their loss, screw them, they clearly have no taste and really, who wants to make friends with the bitchy crowd anyway.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Hi, Lisa!

I am so happy to meet you and thank you, truly, for weighing in about your experience. And for your support.

I am a nervous small dog of a person, and tend to fumble socially. I think you are right–I need to figure out who is worth seeking out.

ps: I read, “So I say, give it a try, speak up (even if you feel like you may decorate their shoes with your breakfast),” and loved you immediately.


elizabeth November 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

There’s nothing wrong with being a fringer. Life’s too short to spend it trying to placate fuckwit sheep anyway.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm


Which is why we’ve only met once and yet know another, deep down. Hugs to you and Michael. xo


Sherri November 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Thank you for this post. I recently helped coordinate a fashion show for a charity event at my kids’ school, and, apparently, I have to do buy a ticket to the event, so… I just responded to an email asking me how many friends I would be bringing to the brunch and who I wanted to sit with like this: “I probably won’t sit and have no one to go with currently, so it will just be me :).” Story of my life. Felt better when I saw this post and read all these comments.


TKW November 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm


Sisters in arms. And unoccupied seats. ((you))


jacquie November 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm

yes dogs are good judges of character – far better than people at times. Given how those women act it is far better to be an “outsider” rather than part of the group. But perhaps what do i know as an “outsider” also and not even last years model but much more out of date than that. Be strong in yourself – for your little girl and this fellow “outsider” who is finding it almost impossible and at times not possible to be strong in herself.


TKW November 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm


Think of yourself as a vintage corvette? :) xo


Velva November 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm

This blog will be priceless to your children one day. I mean that in the most beautiful way.



TKW November 28, 2012 at 8:55 am


What a nice thing to say! Thank you.


Jamie November 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm

It was crazy to read this post because you’re this Blog Idol of mine and I think you’re such a bad ass!! It’s almost nice to hear that you have your moments just like the rest of us.

Did I manage to make that all about me? Sorry about the mean mommies. If it makes you feel any better, I am totally looked at as a freak by my teacher coworkers!


TKW November 28, 2012 at 8:56 am


I didn’t fit in with my other fellow teachers, either. But I like to think that it’s because I wasn’t BORING.


TKW November 28, 2012 at 9:51 am


email me! Question for you.


idiosyncratic eye November 28, 2012 at 2:59 am

Better to be an individual than a clone. But sometimes it is hard. :)


suzicate November 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

I don’t fit in either, but I’ve come to know I belong just as much as anyone else. I hope you know you belong…it’s good not to fit in. Who want to be a cookie cutter version anyway?


denise November 28, 2012 at 9:08 am



I love the JustWrite exercise and the honesty in your words and experience. My daughter processes the world in the same way you do–with quiet observation, from a safe distance. (I am the opposite–my husband refers to me as the Human Equivalent of Man’s Best Friend and even goes so far as to describe my social interactions in dog terms–says I play bow and wag-wag-wag my tail.)

My hand ached a bit as I read, wishing that yours still held the comfortable mittened one. (And, I mentally hurled some choice words at those latte-bus-stop women.)



TKW November 28, 2012 at 9:46 am


Come move in to the house next door? Please?


Kate November 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I’d give you an honest (if not shy) smile.

I have spent time on both sides of the coat wall. I realized yesterday that me and my two friends chit chat without regard for the other moms at the playground. It’s not meant as mean (by me anyway), and I’m scanning the crowd for the lonely.

Just like we trench our kids it’s okay to be different, we teach them to include others. But we have to live that too.


Kate November 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Teach! Not trench….


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes November 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I get the ‘not fitting in’ feeling but I can’t get over the fact that there are people who do not like you. Impossible!


Robin November 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm

When I read this last night for the first time, it hit me right in the heart…in my soul. I felt it – the awkwardness of not being invited into the circle – polite smiles. In my former suburban neighborhood, I always felt like an outcast, even though my neighbors were always very nice to me. When I lived in the city, it was a whole new world. Being different is totally acceptable and embraced. It was my best neighbor experience in my whole entire life. I miss it.


Barbara November 29, 2012 at 6:01 am

Forgive me in advance. I am not different. I am a loner, but never felt like a freak. I am friendly enough, but I can take it or leave it. I was accepted (and when meeting the new neighbor ladies this Friday, I’ll let you know if that is still the case) most of the time because I DID go along with the crap. Which, btw, is still the same now as it was years ago. Some things never change.
You’d be a friend if we lived near each other and were of an age (and perhaps even if not). Doesn’t matter to me if you are different. (I knew a girl who thought she was a witch….even went with her once when she put a hex on a bridge opponent. Not kidding.)
Besides, as I always tell my daughter, we have to learn to depend on ourselves. Self confidence is the answer. I know you have it.


TKW November 30, 2012 at 8:40 am

Somebody put a hex on another lady over BRIDGE? I am in hysterics. You are a gem.


Charity November 29, 2012 at 6:31 am

Nothing wrong with being yourself. I would rather be by myself than surrounded by people who do not get me.


Heather December 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I don’t fit either. Never have, likely never will. And I’ve met some of the coolest people by not fitting in. Glad you are you and I’ve found you :)


TKW December 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Glad for you too, my friend.


Tiffany December 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

I just can’t imagine you not fitting in. Come live here and we can be BFFs and drink wine and eat salt and be happy!!!!


TKW December 13, 2012 at 11:46 am


I’m packing my bags now!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri December 14, 2012 at 8:58 am

You can fit in my circle any day.

I’ve experienced this feeling too. But I’ve learned that sometimes it is ok not to fit.


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