My oldest son is 8 years old, and in 3rd grade. Yesterday, as we were talking about what he had done at school that day, he mentioned that in PE he didn't think he was going to get a popular person for a partner because he was a little bit slower standing up. Now "popular" is one of those words that sends a huge blip to my mommy-radar. Feigning nonchalance (you know, it's kind of difficult to feign nonchalance when you aren't sure how to spell it), I asked him what it means to be popular. He told us it just means that lots of people like you. The more people who like you, the more popular you are. He loves to use examples, so he gave us the example that Daddy is very popular because we all (his family) like him.
I am horrified that already in 3rd grade my son has identified that there are "popular" people in his class. It's one of those things that I feel like I need to talk with him about, perhaps pointing out that all people have value, and that being popular doesn't necessarily translate into success. In fact, in my experience, popularity is often an impediment to success. At the same time, how much importance do I want to impart to the issue by making a big deal out of it? Cody wasn't expressing any desire to be popular himself--he expressed the situation in a matter of fact way: this is just the way it is. Although it's probably just as dangerous to desire to hang with the popular kids isn't it? I should tell him that he really ought to seek out the un-popular kids to make sure they feel included. I mean, the popular kids already have more friends than they know what to do with, right?
When I got into this motherhood thing, I guess I knew that these issues would come up, but somehow I didn't realize it would be this heartwrenching. Ug. We're not even into the tough stuff yet. Pray for us.