You know the ones, the fashionably dressed ones, usually toward the back of the class, always in the front at sporting events, the envy (sometimes secretly) of all the other kids, and tolerated indulgently by the teachers...
Well, um, I wasn't one of 'em, I'm afraid.
I'm over here... Yes, that's me, up front, second seat back on the left, where the teacher put me behind the class clown as a safe buffer between him and the rest of the kids. Yep, the one with the wild hair peeking up over the top of the Thomas B. Costain novel (hidden behind my math book). That's me. Not a cool kid.
At best, I was always the new kid.
We were a Navy family and moved many times in my childhood, for various reasons, to various schools, but my parents (in their wisdom) never sent us to the base schools, where we would have blended right in with all the other perpetually new kids. We went, instead, to the Catholic schools, and were always in the process of catching up socially. Never had a problem academically, but that, alas, didn't help my social standing. On the contrary.
Never had the ability or the inclination to be a jock. Jocks are always cool.
Wasn't a hip chick. You know, even Catholic schools have a hip chick click, where the girls just barely slip in under the uniform code with their coolness. But my Mom wasn't about to lend support to that kind of vanity, much less expense. So I wasn't a hip chick.
Catholic schools (thirty years ago, at least), didn't have a Goth or "freak" subset that one could claim a certain cool status in. And if there were such a thing, I'd have been as thoroughly amazed and repelled by it then as I am now, I'm sure.
So, you know what that leaves, of course. I was a nerd. Would have been even if I weren't a Navy brat. It's just me, I guess. I suppose, even now, I'm considered a social misfit by many.
And why am I divulging this personal information? Am I just on a whining jag? Actually, no, not really. It's because... Well, look at this. After thirty odd years, I'm still tied to a label! Here I am, at my age, shaking the strings off, and, though I'm proud to have certain aspects of that label tattooed to my being, the label is still there. I'm one of the nerd group, not a cool kid. Agreed.
But, now that I'm a parent, I have to work out how this whole label thing relates to my children.
We had the fortune to be able to send our children to a wonderful, disciplined Catholic school these last couple of years, where the teaching sisters kept amazingly good control over the clicks. (I guess I could spell it "clique" if I wanted to be cool...) But, you guessed it, the power of kid-nature still held sway. In spite of the Sisters' efforts, there was a "cool" set and an "uncool" set in our little, tiny, rural Catholic school. And I got to go through the agony of it all over again through my children ~ especially the ones in the older grades.
Nope, mine weren't the cool kids, any more than I was. Maybe it's genetic.
But, I'm glad they weren't the cool kids really, as hard as it was, especially, to watch my dear daughter's anguish. We try to raise them to march to the beat of their own drums ~ in God's band. And that doesn't make for popularity much of the time. At least not here in the world.
It's a much simpler life as homeschoolers in this way. The children and I ~ we go through phases of being more or less popular with one another. But that's just because of the daily sway of moods and events, not because of our deep natures or the winds of fate like in conventional school settings. It's blessedly easier to guide the children to be their authentic selves here at home, where we can concentrate on being popular with Our Lord and His Mother. Where I can nip a charity problem in the bud.
As a homeschooling mother, I'm free to judge which children are ready when to hold their own in a mixed group setting. And I think it's a good thing to be able to shelter them in this way. I don't want any of them to be overwhelmed by the random opinions of others. I don't want any of them to think of themselves as a jock or a nerd or even as a cool kid. It shouldn't be something they think about at all.
So, no labels around here. Just names. I'm Lisa. I guess you can judge me by my fruits, if you want to. Which reminds me... You might as well know that all that stuff we had planned for Johnny Appleseed's birthday, with all the best supermom homeschooling intentions... Well, this mommy was too tired and we ended up having applebutter sandwiches for lunch, and instead of baked apples, we had popcorn, apples and cheese for dinner while we watched True Grit at dinnertime. We never got around to making appleprints with sponges, but we did walk down to the farmers' market and get some fresh apples and stopped to play at the park. So, there it is. Not a nerd. Not a supermom. Not a slacker. Just human.