It seems my 11-year-old daughter has a new friend. Although I haven’t met her, I’ve heard a lot about her. Apparently she’s the same age, height, and build as my daughter, but with bright blue hair, multiple body piercings, and a henna snake tattoo. She wears things like sliced-up jeans and suede halter-tops to school. On top of that, she’s allowed to stay up as late as she wants to, play inappropriate video games, and watch B horror movies. She never has to clean her room and keeps all 50 pairs of her trendy low cut jeans in a pile stuffed underneath her bed.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking that I must be some kind of negligent parent to let my daughter associate with such a bad influence. And, well, you’re right.

But, you see, her name is Everybody Else. And, chances are, if you’re a parent of a middle schooler, your child hangs around with her, too.

Oh, at first, she seems quite harmless. You’ll be sitting around the kitchen table giving the family high fives because of the great deal you found on a, say, purple rolling backpack, and your eleven-year-old will suddenly say, “But Everybody Else has a blue one.”

You absent-mindedly nod in a “That’s nice, Honey” sort of a way and go on about your business.

But then later you’ll say something like, “It’s 9 o’clock so you’d better get ready for bed.” And your eleven-year-old will say, “But Everybody Else gets to stay up until 10 o’clock.”

And so it goes until, sooner or later, you find out that Everybody Else is also allowed to ride on motorcycles with 16-year-old boys, wear cut off fish net stockings, paint her toe nails purple, and listen to Marilyn Manson CDs.

In short, you really start to hate Everybody Else.

But, as infuriating as Everybody Else is, let me just say her mother is even worse.
Take, for instance, the other day when I asked my daughter to turn off the television. She said, “Everybody Else’s mom lets them watch television before doing homework.” When I said she couldn’t have a slumber party until she’s sixteen, she informed me that, “Everybody Else’s mom invites whole Girl Scout troops over to sleep.” And when I served store bought cake for my daughter’s 11th birthday, she said, you guessed it, “Everybody Else’s Mom makes cakes from scratch.”

Face it, Everybody Else’s mom makes the rest of us look, well, bad.

Now a wiser person would’ve recognized this for what it is and risen above it. But me, I am not this wise. So you can’t really blame me when, last night, during a 15 minute diatribe on what kind of deprived life my daughter leads because she doesn’t have her own cell phone, I heard myself say, “I don’t care if Everybody’s Else’s mom likes loud rap music, or makes bologna casserole for Thanksgiving dinner or approves of multiple body piercing, if I ever catch her alone in an aisle at the grocery store I’m going to grab her by the nose ring and give her a piece of my mind!”

You have to just marvel that a rational human being can say something like this and mean it.

But I’m not that worried, really. Lately my daughter’s starting to hang out with a better crowd. In fact, last night, when I asked her to go to bed, she replied, “Nobody Else goes to bed before nine o clock.” And when I asked her about her C on her history test, she said, “Nobody Else got an A on last week’s history test.”

You know, I’m starting to really like this Nobody Else kid.

And I can’t wait to meet her mother. Something tells me we’re going to get along great.