Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's with the popular crowd?

When I was in high school, I hung out with good friends who had similar interests. We were definitely not the popular crowd. We did have fun and enjoyed our high school years together. I was probably considered one of those quiet, "good" kids by most of the student body. With my friends, I talked up a storm. Introvert to the majority; extrovert to my minority.

Whether consciously or not, I remember actively trying to immerse my firstborn son in lots of social, extracurricular activities. I wanted him to be social and comfortable with other kids. I would go out of my way to encourage him to talk and play with other children. As a young boy, he did make many friends and enjoyed being one of the group.

I've always considered my son to be well liked and maybe, even sort of popular. Tonight, he tells me that he is at one of the "loser" lunch tables. He laughed when he said it. Apparently, it doesn't bother him. He thinks it is no big deal. It's just the way it is now at his middle school. Typical of middle school, there are a couple of popular tables surrounded by all the not so popular or "loser" little tables.

He told me not to worry that he still has a bunch of good friends. What did surprise me is that many of the kids who were his "friends" over the elementary school years are no longer interested in even saying hello to my son anymore. Just last year, all of these kids seemed to not be so concerned with categorizing themselves into one group or another.

My son seems fine with the situation. Funny how it bothers me though. After all my attempts to socialize my son, it turns out that he is just like me, sitting at a table with his few good buddies. I guess you have to be born with that popular gene :) I know that the popular group at his school gets into trouble, so he's better off without them. I'm just amazed at how some boys (that I've known since they were 5) all of a sudden act like my son doesn't exist anymore.

It's like something clicked in some of these 11 year old brains. Once they turned 12, these boys decided that they are off to the popular world and some old friendships are expendable.

Interesting to watch the popular crowd form right before my eyes once again. I guess middle school/high school politics will never change.

19 comments:

Mari said...

I noticed in watching my kids that it seems girls are much more into the popularity thing than boys. I really get what you are talking about though - It's hard on us Mom's and takes ys right back to middle school!

Wendy said...

That is just crazy...but it does sound like your son is better off without those "popular" kids anyway........it is good that he has friends and that he doesnt seem to mind that he is not in the "in" crowd...I guess you are just born with those genes...........I wasnt born with them! So i guess my kids will be at the "loser" table too.

T Rex Mom said...

Too true - you do have to be born with the popular gene!

I was one of those introverts who had a few close friends but was never super outgoing. I can already see my little guy is a lot like that - he kind of goes off and does his own thing even when the other boys are playing together. Genetics - I guess it makes sense!

Ann Victor said...

The interesting thing is how few of these "popular" ones become superachievers in adulthood, while the so-called "losers" end up doing very well. (I can immediately think of Bill Gates and Adam Sandler.)

pughy said...

I agree with the switch clicking on. It does seem that way.

I do though think your son will be better with a few good buddies then with a lot of not so good buddies. He has the right attitude, bless him.

Carol x

Joanne said...

Middle school years are such a tough age. But I do think your son is better off, I'll bet his friendships are genuine rather than some of the surface friendships of popularity.

Becca said...

Middle school is definitely when the cliques start to form and it just gets worse once they enter highschool. In all honesty, it sounds like he is much better off with his few good "loser" friends than getting himself in trouble with the "popular" group.

Heather said...

I remember that change well. One year, we all got along - everyone was friends. The next, people you'd know for years suddenly forgot your name.
My high school experience sounds a lot like yours. Around the most popular kids, I was quite - reserved. But I was the loud, talkative one in my close circle of friends. Definitely the most outgoing of the group. Funny how that works, huh?

Lois Lane II said...

Being popular, especially in middle and high school, is usually NOT good. ;) Speaking from experience, lol.

shabby girl said...

Seems to me, those kids that are so worried about their popularity might be pretty insecure. Your son, being cool with his few friends, probably won't do stupid things to make people like him. I think his Mom did a great job making him feel good about himself.

Sneaky Momma said...

I dread the middle school years with my girls. Kids that age can be so cruel, so into themselves.
Good job, Mom. I think you handled that situation with your boy perfectly.

Juliet Colors said...

Ah, budding adolescents. It sounds like your son realizes a few good friends are better than a lot of superficial "friends." You've taught him well. :-) Personally, I've always preferred small groups myself and have never even come close to being part of a "popular" crowd.

H.K. said...

Your son sounds like he is very comfortable with himself and doesn't feel the need to be "popular", that's a good sign!

Moe is the same way. In Jr. High school, he hung out with different groups, he said he would walk around the school and find a group that seemed interesting. I was worried about that, but he seemed fine with it.

Even now in high school, he doesn't just hang out with the guys on the football team. He also sings in choir and hangs out with the choir group. And he doesn't feel the need to be popular.

Kim said...

You know what Kelly, it worked like this when I was growing up too. I used to go to an elementary school where all the kids parents were 'successful' financially. I was a part of this gang by default-we all lived in the same neighbourhood. But once we hit highschool, these kids remained the popular kids (at our school - if your parents had money - you were popular)and I was not popular at all. I was somewhere among the invisibles. But looking back I think about how those popular kids all started drinking earlier, doing all sorts of things me and my nerdy friends never got into. I too was a good kid and that's what I hope for your son. I love that he knows who he is and is even trying to make you feel better about it. It shows that you have done a fantastic job of raising a sensitive and kind person. He's a winner in my books all the way!!

H F W said...

That's very interesting that something clicks at that age still that defines the popular from the not popular. I'm sure it would bother me if my son was at the "loser" table, but I think I'm in the same boat as you; it would bother me a whole lot more if he were at the "popular" table and running with the wrong crowd.

So how do we teach our kids to swim against the current instead of going with it? I hope mine have those genes.

Life with Kaishon said...

This is very interesting. It is hard for me not to but in and help Kaishon make friend choices sometimes...

Kari said...

Oh, I'm so not looking forward to this stage in my kid's lives... my oldest starts Kindergarten next year - I hear it starts as early as then. I was not in the popular crowd, and I kind of hope that my kids aren't super popular either. I actually think that life is better without all that pressure.

Michelle said...

Ick. I remember this happening in 4th grade at my school... and I remember that there were a few -- and only a very few -- people who could cross borders and be friends with multiple groups. Then again... I sometimes wonder how much has changed with adulthood, sadly.

Beth Kephart said...

Over and over, the crowds will change. What seems certain not to change, though, is your son's self-assured sense of self. He couldn't face a better future, with his attitude.