Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kids can be mean

CHBM has a contest going on with Baby Wit. They want to know how cool I was in school. And that's easy, because I so wasn't. I still work hard to keep my "inner spaz" from coming out and ruining everything. Fortunately, now the people I hang with seem to appreciate my special kind of spazziness, so that's good.

Most of my loyal readers (hi Mom!) already know this, but if you're just dropping by, maybe it's news to you. I skipped second grade.

See, the earth didn't self-destruct when I wrote that (but we'll see what happens when I hit "publish"). But when I was a kid, I avoided uttering that sentence as much as possible.

Because somewhere between kindergarten and third grade, and I obviously missed the memo, it became very uncool to be smart. And if you're smart and also small for your age, not very athletic, and a bit of a prissy kid, forget it. Hang it up. You will not be liked.

And, it's sad to say, that feeling of "They won't like me"? Doesn't disappear once you grow into your teeth, develop more coordination, and chill the eff out on the prissy $hit. Nope. That feeling stays, creeping into interactions with people who are nice as well as those who aren't. It colors a person's likelihood of trusting other people.

I know I'm not alone. I've read other blogs where grown women (and men) admit to having crummy childhoods. It was hard being the kid that the other kids didn't like. Maybe that's something significant that has caused us to reach out to a nameless (mostly), faceless (mostly) audience. In an arena where we can delete any comments that hurt our feelings. Because in third grade, in fourth grade, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth? A delete button would have been nice.

And little scares me more than the thought of my children going through the same thing. As a result, there are a few traits I've tried to encourage and a few I've outright discouraged. Like being prissy. Because? Both of my kids are naturally a bit prissy. They lean toward the tattletale, know-it-all end of the scale. And I've told them that it's not a good idea to act that way, especially at school. Other kids don't like tattletales. And teachers don't like know-it-alls. (I promise they don't. Ask my sixth grade teacher about when I corrected his pronunciation of the name of that river in England that rhymes with "hymns". Except he pronounced it the way it's spelled, so it rhymed with "names." I can still see the ugly look he gave me when I told him that the people in London called it the "timms". Not my best moment.)

My husband managed to escape childhood relatively undamaged. He was always one of the biggest kids in the class (usually the biggest), and he's always seemed to be able to handle a variety of situations pretty well. Being on the basketball team probably didn't hurt. And, unlike me, he's not a bit prissy and doesn't feel the need to correct people for minor factual errors.

Long story short, I've tried to teach my kids how to be cooler than I was. And it seems to be working. (Suffice it to say, my husband has an easier time modeling coolness to our kids.) Both kids get on well with their peers. Both seem to be quite comfortable in their own skin, and they are equally comfortable with the brains they got. Neither child is rude, arrogant, or any of the other socially-detrimental behaviors that keeps smart kids from being socially accepted. Instead, they seem to be interested in bringing the other kids up to their level. Graciously. Gracefully. And I hope they can keep that grace in their teen years and beyond.


Cheryl said...

I skipped third grade, so I can definitely feel your pain. I was kinda quiet so I didn't really get mean comments, hell, I didn't get any comments, good or bad, which sucks in a different way. It was sweet, sweet revenge, though, to come back for Junior Homecoming (I transferred to a magnet school that summer) with boobs and blonde hair and actually getting looked at by the football players.

Anonymous said...

I never would have described you as "prissy."