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It’s all about popular!
It’s not about aptitude
It’s the way you’re viewed
So it’s very shrewd to be
Very very popular
Like me!

(Glinda singing “Popular” in Wicked)

The writing has been on the wall for quite some time; I’ve just willfully ignored all the signs. Like many parents, I had wanted my child to be in my image, less from an egotistical standpoint than a parental competence one. Having been me—and Matt having been Matt—for some 40 years now, we’ve figured out the ins and outs of being us and feel we have real expertise to offer about how to negotiate the social strata of childhood and adolescence.

But Simon is (dare I type it?) popular. Not well liked, as I was, or comfortable in his circle of friends, as Matt was. But popular. The kind of popular that has other parents telling me that their son/daughter “just loves Simon”, “calls Simon his brother” and “has a little crush on Simon.” It’s true! The girls want to be with him and the boys want to be like him. We invited his entire class to a party at a farm on Sunday, and nearly the entire class is coming. And every parent who called said the same thing,

“Oh, ___ just loves Simon. He/she wouldn’t miss it.”

Wow. As the Elphaba to his Glinda, I feel a bit overmatched. So I’ve assumed that while he’s popular now, this will all fall apart at some future date. From what I’ve read, the key to popularity in preschool is to be verbal and empathetic. Surely all this sensitivity and empathy will be a liability in middle and high school, right?

“Oh no,” said a friend just today. “I mean, maybe if he were hugely awkward. But with those eyes and dimples? He’s handsome. And he’s tall. He reminds me a lot of my nephew, and let me tell you that kid is still popular. The girls love him. You’ll see. Your Simon is going to be a charmer.”

Oh. Could it be? Could the King and Queen of the Dorks really have created a kid who is legitimately popular? Given Simon’s DNA, finding out he’s a football prodigy would only be slightly less surprising. And what lessons can I teach? I’ve got the “it gets better” speech down. I don’t know if I can deliver the “you have to be nice” lecture with the same ring of truth.

But that’s my issue. And it could still all go south sometime around sixth grade…

2 Responses to “Popular”

  1. blg says:

    1. everything goes south around about 8th grade.
    2. how did you get from considering yourself “well liked” to Queen of the Dorks?

  2. Jessica says:

    For BG:
    1. 8th grade: That sounds about right.
    2. This second part is tricky: I was not in the cool crowd at all. But I also wasn’t trying to get in (which makes things worse) or so odd that I was made fun of. Most folks (I think) either liked me or had little opinion of me either way. On the other hand, my GPA and various affiliations were clearly on the dorky side of things. So not an A-lister, but not a target of bullying either. Just a well-liked dork with lots of friends. Follow?

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