The other day Lindsey was telling me about the "popular" kids at school. Lindsey and her friends don't describe themselves as popular, and she clearly has that "I wish I were them" and "I hate them" kind of thinking that kids this age have about the in-crowd.
It seems that everyone grew up in a school where there was a "popular" group; doesn't matter your generation, class size, big town (or small) or what state you grew up in. I just don't get it. I decided to ask her some questions to see what's changed over the years, and perhaps impart some wisdom.
Q: So what does it take to be popular?
A: To be popular you have to be nice, wear really, really nice clothes, have neat handwriting, and have a smartphone.
Q: How do you know who the popular kids are?
A: You can just tell. They dress really nice and care about how they look. Boys too. And they're nice one-on-one, but if you come up to them as a group they're really mean.
Q: Really? Have you seem them do that?
A: Well one time my friend came up to a popular girl and asked her a question and she just turned away from her and wouldn't talk to her, even though they hang out together because they live on the same block.
Q: Maybe she didn't hear your friend.
A: I doubt that.
Q: Do the popular kids hang out with unpopular kids at school?
A: No. They all sit at the same lunch table and joke and laugh with each other.
Q: So what would happen if you came up to them, sat down at the table and joined in?
A: Are you kidding, Mom? They would look at you like "What are you doing here?" and would probably be quiet until you went away.
Q: What do you and your friends do at lunch?
A: We have a blast. We have such an awesome table, we spend the entire time trying to make each other crack up. We have so much fun.
Q: Wow, that sounds like something other kids would want to be a part of. What would happen if someone you didn't know sat down at your table and asked to join in?
A: We'd probably look at them like "What are you doing here?" and....oooohhhh!
We talked for a bit longer and then I gave her the same message I've been giving my kids for years: Be Yourself! Be your own authentic self and you will attract the kind of people you want to have in your life. It won't matter if you're popular or geeky or musical or anything else, because you'll be happy.
And then I told her not to smoke or do drugs ever or have sex before 18. I got the eyeroll AND the big sigh.
Bonus parenting points.