Monday, March 03, 2008

Middle-School Popular

My favorite table in any restaurant is one by a window.

So I'm glad when Joseph nabs the lone window seat in our favorite bakery.

Minutes after settling in, I glance outside at the snow and ice-covered parking lot -- through glass streaked with condensation -- and then immediately take another long sip of my very hot tea.

Meanwhile, Joseph -- hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate -- continues telling me about school.

"... so yeah, the popular kids can be ridiculous sometimes."

I look at him a second before responding-- to see if he's trying to be funny.

"Wait a minute, Bud. I thought you were pretty popular-- at least that's what your teachers tell me."

"No," he says firmly, "I'm not popular-- I just know everyone."

I flash him an amused grin.

"Hmmm... I see."

He shoots me a more-than-slightly irritated look.

"Seriously, Mom-- I really don't want to be popular."

"How come?"

"Well... " he says, thinking a moment before going on, "because then everything just gets so complicated."

"In what way?"

"Like my friend K-- he's really popular. And so is D... "

"Yeah-- so?"

"Well, today they wore the same jeans to school, and they got all freaked out about it. And some girls started talking about it-- like it was this big deal. I don't want to have to worry about stuff like that. It's just stupid."

"Sounds kind of stupid to me too."

"And the popular kids don't talk to everyone. Like this kid, M-- they all ignore him. Sure, about sixty percent of the time he can be annoying, but the rest of the time he's really a nice kid."

Joseph pauses a second, takes a long drink of hot chocolate, and then continues:

"I mean, yeah, I slugged M that one time on the sled hill when he was picking on P, but he doesn't usually do stuff like that."

"Oh, well that's good."

"So, no-- I don't want to be popular."

"All right, Bud," I say with a respectful nod.

"I'm sorry I suggested you were."


Donna said...

Joseph sounds like he's got his feet firmly planted on the ground. My daughter was like that in school. She wanted to be liked, but not popular. The popular kids were usually the most irritating & caused the most trouble. She didn't want to be like that. And it sounds like Joseph doesn't want to be like that either. He is a such a great kid.

Jillian said...

Gosh! You didn't know there was a difference?! LOL I'm only kidding. Joseph has the right mind set. It's perfect to be the kid that everyone "knows", yet still maintain a tight group of friends.

Colleen said...

Joseph is one savvy young man. How nice that he knows what he wants, at least for now. You should be extremely proud of the boy!

Gianna said...

I am completely with Joseph on this one. When I was in middle school, the "popular" kids were generally the ones who looked down on other people and found really strange reasons to make fun of anyone they weren't friends with. That doesn't sound like the kind of person Joseph is at all, so I'm glad he knows that about himself already. :-)

Carey said...

He's just the coolest kid. I want Joseph as my friend!

Shannon said...

He will have a much happier school experience with that mindset!

Jamie said...

It sounds like he has things all figured out - and you know what? He's right! :)

It's more important to know everyone and be friends with them rather than have to worry about who has the same jeans on as you.

Major Bedhead said...

Good grief, what a level-headed child.

I didn't much like the popular kids when I was in school either, but that didn't stop me from wanting in to their circle.