A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All

JenEx wrote a post today that zapped straight to the center of my being, about being an outsider at school.

The dotter is about to move into another phase of life, moving from a nice small school where everyone knows her into a (biggish) public school that has three kindergarten classes.  Then, after that, it's first grade, then sixth, then high school.

Right now, she walks in the door to her classroom, and she's greeted like Norm on Cheers:  "OmegaDotter!"  "Yay!  O's here!"  "OD, come here, look at this!"

But already we have a small social issue popping up.  OmegaDotter will sigh and say, "Everyone laughs at me," every now and then when talking about school and her friends.  OmegaDad and I know that one reason everyone laughs at her is because she cultivates it; she is a clown.  She has her mother's overexaggerated expressions and reactions down, and it is funny.  She does it deliberately, waiting for our reaction, and damn, it's hard not to laugh all the time. 

As a result, OmegaDad and I try to let her know that she doesn't have to be "on" all the time, that we love her just as she is and she doesn't need to clown around.  And we have mentioned, in passing, that maybe part of the reason everyone laughs at her is because she encourages it...

She's smart.  She's damned smart.  She's cute.  She's artistic (or so I have been told).  And she clowns around.

I was smart, damned smart.  (I wasn't so cute.)  I was a bookworm and Thought About Things.  And I didn't fit in, at all; never part of the popular crowd, always sort of hanging around on the edges.  I was the person who other people asked to copy off of.  Most of my time in school I felt lonely, which expanded to a big hole of loneliness in high school.  I was awkward, shy, bookish, got good grades, didn't do anything athletic, and lived far away from school.  I went off in my own direction lots of times, and that didn't go over very well, either.  It didn't help that sometimes my teachers were the ones who were poking fun at me, either (I remember one time in sixth grade, when we were supposed to write a story, and I got involved in designing the backstory, a la Genesis, a whole page worth of "So-and-so married such-and-such and had two children, blah-de-blah and something-or-other."  The teacher demanded I turn in whatever I had written...and then, a day later, read it out loud to the class as a prime example of what "not to do".).

My parents were smart, damned smart.  And they report that they were always the odd ones out at school, as well.

We all managed; we all found our little niches.  But it wasn't necessarily easy, and it wasn't necessarily fun, and there were lots of times when other kids were just plain mean.

So.  I admit that part of the reason I'm taking OmegaDotter to ballet and to ice skating, and plan to for a long time, is so that she will have a certain physicality that I lacked.  I'm going to dump her into soccer next year.  I'm going to make an effort to keep her in touch with her buddies from preschool, so she has a solid "group" to fall back on.  And we're going to keep emphasizing that what makes a person nice is that person's actions and inner self, not the outer stuff.

But I know that the Queen Bees are out there, and maybe the Dotter will be one, maybe she won't.  No matter--there will be times when she will be hurt by other kids, and I can't protect her from that, and there will be times when she does the hurting.

And it makes me scared.

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posted by Kate @ 3/20/2007 08:09:00 PM  
  • At 3/21/2007 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous jason said…

    The other side of the story though, is that the kind of school/social challenges you are talking about tend to produce interesting people. So while we will also be making sure the big girl 'fits in' as much as possible, we are not going to get in the way if she wants to be a bookwormy dork like her parents.

  • At 3/21/2007 01:59:00 PM, Blogger Space Mom said…

    All I can say is Ditto!

  • At 3/21/2007 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Julie Pippert said…

    It builds character, to be sure. Sometimes, though, I wish I had a little less character.

    The outside activities give her a bigger playing field. I read they are crucial for building a balanced growing up time that provide more confidence.

    If your only thing is school, and all your activities and socializations are THERE, then it is out of perspective important.

    If it is just one thing, say out of three, then eh...not too big, not too small.

    Make sense?

    Good post.

  • At 3/21/2007 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In addition to the ballet, skating, and soccer, let me give another plug to the horses!

    I had a very tough time in middle school and early high school, and the riding, and the friends I made through riding, are definitely what got me through. If OD is still interested as she gets older, I think it is a great grounding activity, that provides another social outlet separate from school.

    Someday I'll comment on something other than horses, I promise!


  • At 3/24/2007 12:04:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Jason--Oh, trust me, I don't want to make the dotter "fit in"! I just want her to "be herself" without being unhappy about it...

    Julie--That was sort of my thinking--give her something to focus time, energy, and attention, and to build up a group of buddies in, and it will provide a strong foundation.

    Stephanie--Oh, yeah, the horses! I've made some small inroads on locating local horseback riding places. I think it would be good, too, for learning about "taking care of others", because everything I've heard about folks who "do" horses is that they "DO" horses all the way--from mucking the stables to grooming to riding. Sort of a way of showing her there are some things you have to work for, as well. (And you're always welcome to comment on horses! ;) )

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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