Cliques, social groups, and popular kids

Today we have two posts on similar topics

Cliques and social groups

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Grace:  Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.


I had an interesting discussion with some online friends the other day. In my high school, the social groupings were very much like the scene above from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Well, not quite, but we had the rah-rahs, the jocks, the jockettes, the nerds (represent!), the burnouts, the Beautiful People, the Jesus Freaks, the stoners, the Band Geeks, and more that I’m probably forgetting.

My friend from Florida: “Are you crazy? We had three groups. The whites, the blacks, and the Cubans. That’s it”
My friend from rural Ontario, Canada: “We didn’t have social groups. We were all rural Canadians.”

And I kind of get that. At Paly in my day, we had a black kid. Her name was Cammie. She didn’t really count as a social group, though. So the many, many white kids all subdivided ourselves into the groups I mentioned.

Do your kids go to a school with many different social groups, or are they mostly divided by race? By rural/urban? Something else? What about your high school?

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Popular kids

by Louise

Recent posts from Totebaggers have described taking action against bullies. My kids are now navigating through the tween years where kids split into groups. I would describe my kids as being in the middle – generally getting along with everyone. Do you see a change from when you went to school ? Have the anti bullying and respect for different types of kids programs worked ? If you could go back what would you do differently ?

Popular Kids

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130 thoughts on “Cliques, social groups, and popular kids

  1. “At Paly in my day, we had a black kid.”

    As one of two kids in my entire 750 person graduating class in high school that were of my ethnicity, I get it.

    Now, my kids have several kids in each 25 person class (English, science, math, etc.) who are of the same ethnicity. Whites are now the minority in DSs’ schools. I like the diversity–it’s very different from the all-white UMC suburb in which I grew up.

  2. off-topic but many thanks to everyone who responded to my question about Midwest colleges on the post earlier this week. I really appreciate it!

  3. RMS – many years before you, my mom was a Paly grad! She went the very first year it opened (she started at Cubberly) which was probably around 1955. Unless I have the two schools mixed up (she went to both). She always talked about how it was great being the first kids in a new school because the cliques weren’t as set in stone and everyone was new to the school.

  4. My son’s elementary school is dominated by quirky nerdy kids (it’s a public school but you have to test to get in). The kids have such a great appreciate and tolerance for quirkiness – as really, it’s the norm. He goes to middle school next year and I’m a little worried about the transition – there will still be a group of quirky kids – but you’ll have the more usual mix of jocks, etc.

    DD’s high school is I think much less cliquish than some of the other Seattle high schools. It has a good chunk of the quirky gifted kids – and it used to be a less than desirable school. They started the International Baccalaureate program there about 6 years ago which is what is drawing some of the gifted kids – but it still has a pretty interesting mix of kids. It also has a great special ed program and a number of kids help volunteer with the special ed kids (e.g. in afterschool sports). It feels like a very caring community.

  5. “Research by Antonius Cillessen and his colleagues finds that relational aggression is not associated with popularity among 9- to 11-year olds, but it is for 12- to 15-year olds.”

    Not sure these guys really know how to define/identify “relational aggression” with girls; by 12-15, it is obvious snark, but it is there at much earlier ages, manifesting as passive-aggressive exclusion. DD ran into this as early as 7.

    I will say the school focus on bullying seems to have made a huge difference since my jr high/HS days. My school days (and friend groups) were socioeconomically diverse, and DD’s are as well. But, boy, the interaction between the groups seems so much nicer nowadays. Even though DD spends an hour every morning trying to look exactly. like. everyone. else., there seems to be more acknowledgement that people are different and that’s ok. IMD(tm), the grits and the preps almost never interacted, except to scorn each other in the hallways, and the band geeks, theater nerds, and eggheads mostly just tried to stay out of everyone else’s stuff.

  6. Seattle, Cubberley was the new high school that opened in ’56. I imagine it would give one a chance to mix it up a little.

  7. “My son’s elementary school is dominated by quirky nerdy kids”

    It’s interesting to me, I do think all of the focus/pressure on going to college has changed the social structure a *lot*. IMD(tm) the smarter you were, the more you tried to hide it; now, the smart kids seem to be much more popular and accepted and generally viewed as a good group to be in, and the one girl at the really skinny end of the bell curve seems to be widely admired. Of course, I’m sure it helps that she’s as nice as can be. But IMD, she would have been pelted regardless.

  8. That’s awful, wine. It does remind me about how there was only one safe girls’ bathroom in high school — the one in the admin building. No need to worry about transgendered persons using the bathroom; the burnout girls were happy to beat you up without being transgendered at all.

  9. DS’s school has mentioned that when they do class assignments for three years of MS, it usually happens that the kids who were on the same team the prior year are not on the same one, the next year. So, they are forced to interact with different kids as they go through MS. They still have some groups like the band kids or kids who play a particular sport but they don’t have the exact same set in their classes. The schools my kids to go have good counselors and pay attention to what’s going on socially.
    I wanted to say that as my kids’ grow Columbine is not far from my mind. I make much more of an effort to stay connected to my kids than my parents did.

  10. ” IMD(tm) the smarter you were, the more you tried to hide it”

    LfB – yup – IMD(tm) too! Which I think is between your day and your DD’s day…

    My small Catholic HS still had enough students to have cliques. I tried to stay in no-man’s land. Lots of kids who knew each other before coming to the regional school stuck together, as did kids from the same areas (i.e. the students from (major city) hung out with the other students from that same major city). I think it was a convenience factor more than anything. I was lumped with the smart AP people, though they rejected me outright. If you weren’t AP from day 1, you didn’t exist. I hopped on the AP track the beginning of 10th grade. So, I stuck with the people who did accept me – those kids who weren’t in anything to be in a clique – no man’s land. It’s funny because I was a nerd, and I played a sport, but I was never comfortable with those groups.

    I loved the cafeteria… all the cliques sat together. When multiple grades used the cafeteria, the cliques couldn’t figure out who to sit with/near. Some cliques transcended grade levels, others were grade specific.

    Honestly, if I didn’t have my strong set of friend I knew outside of HS, I probably wouldn’t have survived. I kept my head down and prayed I didn’t get beat up, or ostracized even more…

  11. “all the cliques sat together”

    meaning clique 1 sat here, clique 2 sat there, etc…

  12. When discussing HS with DH (he attended a large public, I attended a small private) my HS experience was much less clique-y

    the smart kids could also be jocks
    the jocks could also be in musical theatre

    my friends were mostly from band and drama, but I hung out with kids not in these groups as well

    in my public middle school, I felt like you needed to hide being smart, even in the honors classes they teased me for my high math scores

  13. I read on a blog that “niceness” is a virtue instilled by middle class West Coast parents, and so far, that’s what I’ve seen at my kids’ school and most of what I hear about elsewhere, even from my friend who is a middle school math teacher. Our county is 93% white, with most of the rest Hispanic. In soccer, the Hispanic parents make sure their kids don’t trash talk in Spanish even though they could probably get by with it since most referees are not bilingual. All the kids at Baby WCE’s childcare (~50+?) have white skin.

    I think kids who are learning disabled are probably still excluded but no longer actively picked on. My kids know which kids are best and worst behaved and they know they are somewhere in the middle, but they try to avoid sitting by kids who will tempt them to misbehave. Given their naturally rambunctious behavior, I encourage them to keep sitting by the Future Elementary School Teachers of America. The line between “rambunctious” and “behaviorally disordered” isn’t very clear to me, but our district has issues with kids throwing chairs, etc. that are beyond the poking and kicking under the table that my twins have been caught at.

    At high school level, the 4 year county high school graduation rate is around 70%, so there is separation between kids who complete their education without a high school diploma (and often get a GED later), kids who graduate and join the military/do a community college vocational program and kids who go to a 4 year college, often with a stint at community college along the way. They choose different high school classes.

  14. “I wanted to say that as my kids’ grow Columbine is not far from my mind. I make much more of an effort to stay connected to my kids than my parents did.”

    Does the Columbine mother fault herself for not being more involved with her son?

    I wish I could say that acceptance and tolerance among school kids has improved over the years, but I don’t personally see it. What about you all?

  15. Coc – no she does not. And by her account they were a Totebaggy family. Her son did get into trouble but by his senior year, he seemed to have turned himself around and was college bound.
    I would say that was then. Columbine happenned. Can responsible parents do anything different ? I don’t know.

  16. This is timely in a way because DS2 is struggling with the whole “friend” issue right now, and a weird thing happened that bugs me a bit. First of all, both boys are pretty geeky and not really socially “popular”. In our HS/MS, the kids are all pretty nice and know not to bully, so that has never been an issue. DS1 has a little gang he runs with, all uber geeky boys, and so he never really cares that he isn’t Joe Cool. DS2, on the other hand, both cares more, and has far more disadvantages. In another school, he would be a bully target. In our school, he just gets ignored. He has two friends in his grade, a girl from an obscure Southeast Asian country who doesn’t fit with the white kids or the dominant Japanese crowd, and another boy who has also had trouble fitting in, but who aspires to more. Every year from K onwards, until MS, the school adminstrators always placed DS2 in a class with the girl, because they knew how close they were.

    When he hit MS, that changed, Our MS is organized into two “teams”, who are all in the same classes together. The administrators placed DS2 in the OTHER team, the one without his two only friends. In fact, not even his acquaintances are on that team. And he started to really struggle socially. I have complained every year, but the school counselor just doesn’t see it. “Oh, he is so popular”, she says. “He always talks to the other kids in his class”. Yeah, but he never socializes with them out of class and has never, in three years of being on the OTHER team, made a single friend.

    So in 8th grade, they have a class trip to Washington. The process for choosing roommates is absolutely fraught with all of this social clique stuff. They have to go online and request each other as a pair, and then each pair has to request another pair (4 to a room). DS2 only has those two friends, and the girl of course is automatically ruled out. Last year, he and his one (male) friend did end up as roommates, and they planned to do the same this year. But something went wrong. The friend decided to room with another little social outcast who also desperately needed a roommate. So now DS2 has no one. So the foursome + DS2 went to the teacher running the trip and asked if they could put DS2 in as a 5th person, and were told yes, that the hotel would just set up a cot. Problem solved.

    But the teacher just called yesterday and said that due to fire regulations, the hotel would not set up a cot, but would let DS2 bring a sleeping bag. So now DS2 is going to be sleeping on the floor. I said that was fine, because the only alternative is to put him in a room with 3 kids he does not know at all. That is unacceptable to DS2 and to us parents. DS2 is a bully target first of all, and I have heard of some incidents on this trip. Secondly, what if these are the kinds of kids who trash the room? I don’t want him to end up in a situation he can’t handle.

    So I guess it is all OK, but it feels weird to me. There was no fight between DS2 and the other 4 kids who will be in that room, and they all requested that he get added in. But he is the one stuck sleeping on the floor. And I think he feels like maybe these kids aren’t such good friends after all. And I kind of see this being an ongoing problem for him. I think he is having some problems this year with anxiety and depression. I am sending him to a special program this summer for teen survivors, which I hope could help, and am considering a therapist. I am not really sure what else to do.

  17. Thinking more, I wonder if the focus on college (and the increased requirements for admission) may be helping this issue in UMC areas. Again, IMD™, kids largely had one or two interests — the jocks might take shop class, but they didn’t play in the orchestra or write for the school paper; the band geeks might do debate but didn’t play football or be in the school plays; the popular kids ran for student government and played lacrosse; etc. I was one of not-very-many kids at my school who did a bunch of different things and so crossed a bunch of different lines — orchestra, sports, school paper, debate, NHS, poetry magazine, language, etc. I didn’t have great friends in many of the groups, but the bullying/exclusion sure seemed to lesson as I got to know more people across the various clique lines.

    Now it seems like my experience is much more the norm at our HS, because everyone has the resources to try different things, and the parents prioritize that kind of experience because they think it is necessary for college admissions (e.g., even the families without a lot are still renting instruments for their kids to take band). DD, at least, seems to know a bunch of people in a huge number of different groups, from arty geeks with purple hair to jocks to eggheads, and to get along reasonably with all of them. I suspect the remaining big divide is more socioeconomic class (“parents think of kids as college-bound” vs. not), instead of which specific mini-slice of the MC environment we all used to self-sort into.

  18. I went to a Catholic school in a city with only two Catholic high schools, so kids came from all over the city. My particular class of around 160 did not really have a mean girls clique, but the various sports teams kind of hung out together, and the girls from one particular primary school stuck together. They all had the identical look, so we referred to them as the Holly Hobbies, but I was friends with them. I was extremely shy when I started there, so it took me a little while to find my group (I came from public school) but I made the dance team and was lucky that some of the other girls were kind of my people. I agree with whoever said you hid your braininess. I can still remember 30 years later how pleased I was that a friend’s boyfriend was shocked that I was in physics and Calc. If there is something I would have done differently, I would have changed that mindset.

    For my kids, their much larger middle school was much tougher. I can remember my daughter putting on the requisite Abercrombie hoodie each morning, and at the same time transforming her face into a mask. Middle school is not the place for sweet people pleasers. It was rough on my son as well. The school was built for 1200, but had 1800 his first year, with one counselor per grade. The kids from the other elementary feeder were a tougher crowd, and he got punched and generally abused by a couple of boys he never met and never had a class with who took a particular dislike to him. At the same time, expectations ratcheted up enough that he could no longer compensate for his learning difficulties, so it was a lousy year. His current school had about 50 kids, and he is one of 3 white kids, but the only American-born of them. The school has no tolerance for bullying, and just expels kids that are repeatedly problems. At that size, there really aren’t cliques, but the religious or immigrant groups tend to be a little closer. The catholic school we moved my daughter to was slightly larger and, although it had some cliques, they were not really exclusionary.

    I agree with CoC that I have not really seen that kids have gotten nicer. I saw some pretty crappy stuff among the middle school kids. A neighbor that was the nicest woman had a daughter who was an evil queen bee, and she used to share her horror that her daughter was “that girl”.

  19. Mooshi, I’m sorry to hear about your son. The fact that the other kids all included him as an extra speaks well of their desire to include him. Your story reminds me of my most challenging trip/roommate situation, with someone I roomed with on a debate trip less than a month (2 weeks? 3 weeks?) after her father shot and killed her mother. I remember thinking, “What should I do?” for the whole week before the trip. I finally just said, “I’m sorry about your Mom, and if you want me to make myself scarce because you want to be alone, I can do that.”

  20. SSM, you’re welcome, and I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences as you go through the college selection process.

  21. “Cubberley was the new high school that opened in ’56.”

    And was closed by the early 80s.

  22. My HS experience was weird because I went to 3 different high schools. At two of them, I was the new stranger, so I wasn’t part of any clique. At the third, where I graduated, I was with kids i went to MS with. That school was large and highly cliquefied. About a third of the school was black, and they kept totally to themselves. There was a scary crowd, which was mainly poor whites. The middle class whites (and a few Asians and one lone Jew) divided into cliques. Preppies, Christians, athletes (NOT basketball which was all black kids), druggies, geeks. I was definitely part of the geeky,sorta druggie crowd. In the middle class white crowd, most kids were preppies or Christians. It was very stratified.

  23. Mooshi, I’m sorry to hear about your son’s struggles. He’s lucky to have you as a parent that cares so much and notices.

    I never had a group of friends just one or two close friends. I got along with most everyone though. I was nerdy smart but also a big jock. Middle school through 10th grade or so was tough socially in some ways, but I was fortunate enough to have my sports teams. Maybe I loved my college years so much because I found my people.

  24. “No need to worry about transgendered persons using the bathroom; the burnout girls were happy to beat you up without being transgendered at all.”

    RMS, I think that we have lived parallel lives. Starting in 7th grade, the bathrooms were simply off limits. Didn’t even think of using them except in a dire emergency (and then, only DURING class with a hall pass).

  25. I have very little experience of how our elementary school’s social ladder works. But from what I can tell, with the individualized learning that goes on in the classroom it seems that bullying or picking on kids because they are “dumb” or “geeky” or “weird” doesn’t happen (so far). Throughout the day so many kids are in and out of the classroom for extra math help (or advancement), or reading, or social lessons. One kid in my DD’s class has some issues and she will mention that he occasionally crawls under the desk and will scream and then an aide will come and take him out. He appears popular on the playground and in the lunchroom, so the other kids aren’t avoiding him. My DD has had some minor issues off and on throughout the year with some girls being mean and trying to form cliques, but those seem to have disbanded.

  26. DD had a lot of problems early in the year. Some physical bullying – the school stepped in quickly and effectively dealt with that. More difficult on a day to day basis was that she really had no friends at all. She is young elementary, and this surprised me – I don’t remember that social scene being difficult (I had my own share of difficulties, but not until much older). I spent a lot of time reflecting on whether it was her (she’s smart, loud and quirky, but had always found friends), the other kids (the mothers seem terrifically small minded and unfriendly, but that may just be me), the school structure (very little unstructured time, hard to make new friends), or me (I didn’t make her dress like the other kids, which seemed to have a lot of homogeneity or reach out very well to the other mothers.) I never came to any firm conclusions. We moved her at the semester, and she went into a class where she knew about a quarter of the kids, but wasn’t close to any of them. She thrived from the first day and is a whole different kid now.

    I think smart kids are more willing to be seen as smart than they used to be, but I think school culture still has an “out” and an “in” group. Smart is fine, as long as you are well groomed, socially able, and have the right shoes/backpack/apple product. Perhaps this is analagous to girls becoming more accepted as athletes in the 70s and 80s? The In crowd could be strong and competitive, but they were still accepted if they weren’t awkward, poorly dressed, etc.

  27. Put a different way, I don’t foresee the first-generation American, super-smart Indian kid whose parents are running a low-rent hotel being elected class president. Smart is okay, but all those other things are not.

  28. @Mooshi – sorry to hear about your son’s struggles. Not sure how things will be in HS. Maybe the kids get sorted into tracks and that may help him be with more of his people.

  29. My own high school was too small to have many cliques. I guess roughly speaking, we had kids who hung out and smoked at the fire hydrant in front of the school, geeky ‘good’ kids, and the cool/popular crowd. We all socialized together at school dances and so on, but the cool/popular crowd was off drinking with the 21+ guys who bought the beer while the geeky kids (including me!) were playing Risk together or having a movie night at someone’s house.

    My oldest has a couple of HS friends that he hangs out with at lunch, but his real social life seems to be with the kids in his theater program. He’s far from a natural at socializing, but luckily for him beating kids up doesn’t seem to be a thing and especially now that they’re in high school, the done thing is to just avoid kids you don’t like, not to go after them either verbally or physically.

    My daughter has a ton of friends but is not part of the ‘popular’ crowd, which is specifically the ones who are dating already and probably trying some substances. Her friends are a combination of her own little clique that’s been together since kindergarten, a bunch of school friends mostly from band / honors, and a similar coalition of boy friends that joined together with the girls around 7th grade. They’re not dating, as far as I know, but all hang around together.

    My youngest son has a handful of friends, who he sometimes gets together with after school, usually without having mentioned his plans to us. We’ve gotten used to the idea that if he’s nowhere to be found at school or at home, he’ll probably show up by dark. His friends share an interest in computer games with him but don’t really enter into his other interests, such as his passion for horchata (he treated them to it once and they didn’t like it) or his latest book series or tinkering. In his case, it’s still lucky that beating kids up isn’t a thing at the middle school, but more because I fear the result would be like when the kids tried to beat up Ender at the beginning of Ender’s game. As a youngest child, he is a tough little so-and-so.

  30. I wouldn’t worry too much about my child not being student council president – I just wanted them to be perfectly content to go to school. If you have to spend that many hours in a place every day, it must be incredibly stressful to feel like you don’t fit or you have no allies. Most people I know who were not popular in their youth say that they had their group of a couple of friends and were happy.

    Does anyone remember being exclusionary in your younger days? I was typically very nice, as it was deeply ingrained in us, but I can remember coming home from a senior class event at the lake, and a girl who was kind of a loner (but one of the few other girls in physics and Calc with me) asking for a ride home. The driver, I, and another friend went everywhere together, and always crammed the three of us in the front row with the convertible top down. We did that on that day, stereo blaring, with the additional girl riding by herself in the back seat. We weren’t intentionally being mean, but when I think of that it makes me cringe. How crappy and thoughtless. That ride must have sucked for her. To redeem myself slightly, I try hard to make my kids be very inclusionary with quiet kids.

  31. MM, it seems like being the only kid in a sleeping bag doesn’t have to be a big deal unless you make it into one. Kids can sleep anywhere so the difference in comfort isn’t the issue it would be for an adult. I would suggest focusing on ‘isn’t it nice that these 4 kids wanted you to join them’ instead of ‘why does it have to be you in the sleeping bag?’

  32. “So now DS2 is going to be sleeping on the floor. I said that was fine, because the only alternative is to put him in a room with 3 kids he does not know at all. That is unacceptable to DS2 and to us parents.”

    MM, for what it’s worth, my boys told me that someone would often sleep on the floor on these kind of trips rather than share a bed with another guy. Sounds like a good solution to me, and your son is lucky that you are his tireless advocate.
    Based on my own experiences as a survivor, I think that consulting a therapist might make sense. Depending upon your son’s personality, it could be easier for him to talk one-on-one with a compassionate professional than open up with a group of other kids whom he does not know.
    So sorry he is having these difficulties, but as you know MS is challenge for many kids who don’t fit into easy niches.

  33. DD’s middle school has the typical cliques. Today’s post arrived while while we were in a store on the other side of the county. We ran into four girls from her school. Totally unplanned. I hate this store because it’s expensive, but she needed some stuff for camp. It seems to draw kids from all over the county looking for the same stuff.

    Every one of the girls (including mine), and several sales people were wearing the same Steve Madden loafers. DD wears a lot of the same clothes as many of the other girls in school.

    I was never one of those people, but DD is part of this popular crowd. It’s been an interesting and sometimes exhausting experience. It also means that I have to deal with a lot of their parents, and the moms are usually the popular moms. Most of them are nice, but it’s the fast crowd.

    I know that DD will start to be with other kids in school as she gets tracked for math and science in 7th/8th. There has been tracking for 7 years unless it was for co taught or special Ed. A few of these popular girls will be with her, but I’m curious to see what happens in HS when there is an even greater split and there is no defined lunch period by grade.

  34. MBT, I once talked shit about a new girl in beginner French, and really only because I was intimidated by her, not that she’d done anything to me. I’m guessing that even a non-French speaker can figure out what “tres snob” means so I was kinda ashamed of myself afterward. Other than that, I think it would only be the kind of unintentional exclusion that you described.

    When my daughter was 9 or 10 I found on her phone some mean texts she’d sent to a boy about a girl in her class, calling her ‘that stupid fat [name].’ (The girl was indeed not bright, and, well, heavy, which just made it worse.) I gave her hell over that one — lecture was ‘you don’t have to like everyone, you don’t have to play with her or invite her over, but you do have to be kind, and saying mean things behind someone’s back is NOT KIND, especially for someone who is socially awkward to start with and can’t defend herself.’ (As opposed to ‘Never send that stuff to a boy — they don’t want to hear you being catty — save it for your girl friends.’) I kept checking her texts regularly for a while after that, and still do occasionally, and I haven’t seen anything like that since, nor any signs of it in person. And judging by the way kids react to her at school events, I don’t think she’s being mean and hiding it.

  35. I don’t think that kids are actually any nicer as a result of the anti-bullying programs. They learn how to SEEM nice, like Eddie Haskell, and simply carry on their mean girl stuff or bullying under the radar.

    Our kids had very different experiences at public middle school, DC Catholic boys’ school, and small flyover country religious school. Kids that would have been bully magnets at one of the first two schools were treated much more kindly at the third one, where many of the families know each other through church groups and the classes are so small that everyone really needs to get along. The large public middle school DS attended in Virginia had a gifted center and was filled with Totebaggy helicopter parents — therefore, there was virtually no physical bullying but plenty of nastiness on the bus. The boys’ school allowed a certain amount of self-policing (so that, as one DS put it, guys who needed to get beat up usually did) but the teachers were pretty observant and worked hard to bring out the inner decency of most of the kids. But one DS was a bully target there for being smart and not trying to hide it. Even in schools filled with Totebag kids, it’s not always cool to be at the top of the class.

  36. MBT – Yes! In middle school (so tough socially) I was trying to find my place with the jocks and we were relentless on this girl who just wanted to play the soccer. She wasn’t very good, but no one was cut from middle school teams, and she was socially awkward. She eventually quit the team, and I eventually settled in with the Orchestra and AP kids. I hadn’t thought about her at all until the last year when I realized that my DD struggles in social situations with her non-verbal learning disability. My DD could be that girl and it breaks my heart. I’ve been teaching both my kids to always be nice to other kids, especially the kids that seem lonely or different. You never know what battles they are facing.

  37. They learn how to SEEM nice, like Eddie Haskell, and simply carry on their mean girl stuff or bullying under the radar.

    Isn’t that what civilization is? You may want to beat Helen in accounting with a shovel. But, you don’t. You may make comments behind her back but that’s better than beating her with a shovel.

  38. MM — It may be that the GC views your DS2 as a nice, smart kid who does not need her attention as much as the troublemakers that she has to deal with. I think that may have been the case with one of my kids, who is truly a “nice, smart” kid who never gave anyone trouble. It’s aggravating that the school didn’t place your son into the other team, but it was clearly not a priority for them. Since it seems to me that your DS2 gets along more with older kids and adults, I hope things will get easier for him as time goes on.

    “In another school, he would be a bully target. In our school, he just gets ignored.”

    I think ignoring or even shunning has replaced outright bullying in many instances. The unfortunate thing is that shunning is more subtle, and can be hard for adults to detect.

  39. “You may make comments behind her back but that’s better than beating her with a shovel.”

    I have to agree with you on that! What’s funny for me is that I remember more anxiety about where to sit in the company cafeteria and than about my MS or HS cafeteria. Maybe I’ve forgotten the school stuff, or maybe it really wasn’t that bad.

  40. And I DREAD the assisted living cafeteria if I happen to end up there one day.

  41. Certain parents have been very frank in parent meetings and I think that struck me was how the parents said that even when serious issues were happening they were reluctant to speak out. Sort of ties into what Lauren was saying – in smaller districts, communities – parents want to be socially acceptable. They don’t want to be isolated by saying anything.

  42. Interesting comment about the company cafeteria. I don’t usually eat there, but I’ve noticed that the people in there are 95-100% male, and I always have felt awkward just sitting down with someone I don’t know. I have one friend at work that I occasionally eat lunch with, but she is retiring this fall.

    I can’t be included in departmental work lunches, because I’m an agency contractor, but my colleague deliberately invited me to a retirement party at his house because, in his words, “It’s my house, and I can invite whomever I want.”

  43. “MM, for what it’s worth, my boys told me that someone would often sleep on the floor on these kind of trips rather than share a bed with another guy.”

    My older DS feels the same way. He’d rather sleep on the floor.

  44. “What’s funny for me is that I remember more anxiety about where to sit in the company cafeteria and than about my MS or HS cafeteria. Maybe I’ve forgotten the school stuff, or maybe it really wasn’t that bad.”

    If you’ve forgotten it, it really wasn’t that bad. :-)

  45. I was an exchange student in Europe (in high school) and enrolled in a public high school. Due to tracking, students went into three year “programs” that aligned with career goals (baking, natural sciences, car mechanics, social studies, etc.). My cohort was 25ish kids, and we had 80% of our classes together. They would be together a full three years. The same was true for lower school – most kids had one class they were with for 1-6, and one for 7-9, though my host sister had been with one class from 1-9.

    There was really no bullying and people were fairly inclusive – parents all knew each other and there was long term commitment to the group (we organized parties, bike camping trips as a class.)

  46. ahh middle school cafeteria, I cringe thinking about the days I would sit with my more popular friends than one of my better friends who sat with the outcasts

  47. “his passion for horchata”

    added to his penchant for tux-wearing and he could be a waiter at one of the kioscos in Madrid’s Parque del Retiro or the fancier bars on Paseo del Castellano. Maybe moreso in Hemingway’s day than today.

  48. I would never want to be a kid today because of cell phones. For example, yesterday was PJ day at the middle school. I’m not sure why the school has these days, but it was the day prior to a four day weekend. I happened to be there because I was driving a bunch of kids to town, and at least 30 girls were wearing almost the same thing. I asked DD about it today, and she said that they have texting chains about what to wear. A lot of these kids are on Instagram, and/or Snapchat and they plan what to wear for a day like this with their friends. This wasn’t just for the popular kids because I saw plenty of other groups that were wearing similar clothes.

    It is the phone (and related computers etc) that allow these kids to communicate any time they want, and include photos so they know exactly what they’re going to look like when they show up. I’m glad this is just for rare days like pajama day because I can’t imagine how much time this would waste if it happened everyday.

    I like to look like most of the other people in my town, or my office. I follow trends that work for my age, but I don’t like to be noticed. DD is the opposite right now, but I know that is part of being a tween – it is all about me, me, me, me, me.

  49. I didn’t know horchata was also a Spanish thing, nor did he afaik — his focus has been on wanting to travel around Mexico tasting horchata and looking at Aztec ruins and Mayan pyramids (where available). And he’s already planning to work at the local Mexican place when old enough. He might seriously be interested in that suggestion, Fred.

  50. From Why Do Girls Tend to Have More Anxiety Than Boys?, this made me chuckle, and abandon all hope.  Especially the second point.

    Boys are at lower risk for the toxic effects of social media than girls are, for at least three reasons. First, boys are less likely to be heavily invested in what you think of their selfies. “Does this swimsuit make me look fat?” is a question asked by girls more often than by boys. Second, boys tend to overestimate how interesting their own life is. Third, the average boy is likely to spend more time playing video games than Photoshopping his selfie for Instagram. And in video games, unlike social media, everybody truly can be a winner, eventually. If you play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty long enough, you will, sooner or later, complete all the missions, if you just keep at it.

  51. I’m glad this is just for rare days like pajama day because I can’t imagine how much time this would waste if it happened everyday.

    Oh, that’s the least of the problems. Imagine the feelings of the girl who thought she was part of that group until 30 of them showed up in matching pajamas and she was in something different and hadn’t heard anything about it — perhaps having even texted a friend or two and been told, “oh, I haven’t decided yet.”

  52. Lauren- agh! That makes me so scared already for what it will be like for RioBaby in a decade. It also makes me even more pro-uniform, but that doesn’t solve everything of course. Phones and social media have really changed things. So sad to hear about middle schoolers obsessed with their image on Instagram.

  53. HM, exactly!!!! I don’t understand why a middle school would create more drama by having these special days. Another great one is twin day. I don’t usually have to worry since DD is in the mix, but I really feel for some of these other kids.

  54. “And I DREAD the assisted living cafeteria if I happen to end up there one day.”

    My dad is in independent living, but they have assigned seating at meals (changes monthly) for just that reason. Based on what my dad reports, it’s a lot like seventh grade, except that most of the ladies are hard of hearing so there is a lot of “What??!!” going on.

  55. Exactly, HM. This all really makes me wish that there was a reliable way to get kids to really take to heart virtues like kindness and compassion so the tween years could be less of a Lord of the Flies type experience. A lot of schools are trying anti-bullying initiatives now; I’m hopeful but not super optimistic anything will work given human nature.

  56. “I don’t understand why a middle school would create more drama by having these special days.”

    Because the people who plan these things are the same people who thought those special days were just so totally awesome when they were 14?

  57. “Does this swimsuit make me look fat?” is a question asked by girls more often than by boys.

    That question is NEVER asked by a boy. Trust me. You can also replace the word “swimsuit” with any other item of clothing, and the statement is still true.

  58. This is totally giving me flashbacks to when all the cool girls in 5th grade secretly planned to wear Abercrombie all on the same day for the first time… I of course had never even heard of it (and of course wasn’t in the in crowd to participate) and felt like a loser.

  59. “It also makes me even more pro-uniform”
    as you say, that does not solve everything. “Uniform” schools still have dress down days (e.g. the Friday before Super Bowl where everyone can wear something from their favorite team). Well some people do not have a favorite football or other sports team, and some kids have the genuine game jersey and others only have knockoffs sold at Big Lots, so jealousy can still abound.
    I’m still pro-uniform / strict dress code.

  60. LfB, I often think about the selection bias for people who choose to be teachers. I was talking with the superintendent about curriculum issues and offering Algebra I in middle school, and he mentioned that homeschooled kids (who are often ahead in math) often struggled socially in high school even though academically they were fine. I responded with the observation that the people who were really bothered by being bored in math probably were going to struggle socially till college whether they were homeschooled or not, and high school was just a stretch to be endured.

  61. “I don’t understand why a middle school would create more drama by having these special days.”

    I wasn’t popular, but I liked the theme days in MS and HS

  62. Theme days can be a lot of fun, and when you *are* part of a group that’s planned something together and you all show up as planned it’s a great feeling. The problem is that theme days also readily lend themselves to exclusion, and middle school kids are grown up enough to plan and carry off a group theme but still immature enough to be callous or even deliberately cruel about leaving some kids in the dark. Whereas if your college upper level math class / seminar on 18th century cities / Elizabethan poetry class was going to all wear something silly and thematic for the last day of the semester, you’d tell all the students, even the oddball with no friends, what the plan was.

  63. Observing this conversation From a park with my preschoolers. It’s adjacent to a middle/high school and there is a group of loud outcast kids who have taken over the Swingset. It makes me feel even less tender about those years.

  64. RIo, don’t worry. It usually seems to work out for most kids. Even in our small district, I really do see that most kids have a group of friends. I spend a lot more time than the average parent in our MS because of a volunteer commitment that I have in that school. The cafeteria does give me a stomach ache because I see the groups, but there does seem to be a place for most kids. Also, the teachers and schools are smart because they open spaces for the kids that don’t have a group or want to be alone. For example, the library and some teacher classrooms are open at lunch. Also, our HS created a lounge where kids can go if they don’t want to sit in the cafeteria.

  65. “Because the people who plan these things are the same people who thought those special days were just so totally awesome when they were 14?”

    This. You nailed it. How many of us are middle school staff members, after all?

  66. That question is NEVER asked by a boy.

    Hah! Chubbie guys ask it, short guys ask it, skinny guys ask it.

  67. Both my kids wear uniforms. There are a few dress down days but most kids just go to school on those days with their play clothes. The MS has strict codes even on dress down days. It is just easier to go in your uniform, IMO.

  68. This reminds me of a conversation I had at church a couple weeks ago with a fellow R&D engineer from rural Kansas who had a graduating class less than 20. His wife, the daughter of a university professor who grew up in Totebaggy college towns, was laughing hard.
    Him: No one liked the things I liked in high school. I enjoyed reading How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive and fixing my Volkswagen and no one else was into that. So I got to be cool all by myself.
    Me: Me too! I got an HP 48SX the summer before my senior year in high school and I programmed it to play the fight song by using logs to calculate the frequencies of musical tones and play them in the appropriate sequence and duration.
    Him: Ooh, you got to be cool all by yourself too. But if we’d gone to the same high school, we would have been physics partners.
    Me: Totally.

  69. “HS when there is an even greater split and there is no defined lunch period by grade.”

    This is definitely not a problem for DS. His school does not include explicit lunch breaks in the kids’ schedules, so they eat when they can, and eating in class is allowed.

  70. The thing I hate worse about the phones is stories I’ve heard about cell phone pics being snapped of less attractive students while they’re changing clothes in PE and emailed around. That is beyond cruel.

    My next door neighbor was telling me a story about her MS child being in trouble for pants-ing a kid in PE. While telling the story, the mom said she had to ground her “but it is really funny”. Ummm – not if you’re the kid getting humiliated in front of the whole grade…

  71. “I’ve been teaching both my kids to always be nice to other kids”

    I’ve tried doing this also.

    One thing I try to impress on them is that it is in their own long term best interests to be nice.

  72. MBT, I’m guessing that your neighbor’s kid has an excessive amount of self-esteem. My theory is that excessive self-esteem leads to sociopathic behavior and difficulty in empathizing.

  73. I had a close group of friends in middle school and high school, so although I went to a very clique-y high school, the damage was very minimal. However, none of these stories make me feel happy.

  74. COC – I read that NY Times piece on anxiety in girls and it definitely described DD and DS. Just looked at DD’s Instagram account this morning. Her latest picture (she doesn’t post often – maybe every 1 – 2 months) was a picture of her and her friend in bikinis. DS isn’t old enough for social media – but he’s all about Forza/video games.

    On body image – 10 year old DS (who is skinny as a rail) has actually made comments about not wanting to be fat and about his stomach sticking out (you can see his ribs!). I was kind of horrified. The last time he made such a comment, I had a serious talk with him about it (e.g. it is natural for everyone (no matter how thin) for their stomachs to stick out a bit when you sit down).

    MM – what got me through middle school and high school was the belief that when I went to college, I would find my people – and I did! I read in some teen magazine that people who were popular in high school had a hard time adjusting to college. I have no idea if this is true – but I took this to also mean the converse – people who weren’t popular in high school would have an easier time in college. I swear this belief is what got me through middle and high school.

    You mentioned you’re sending him to a survivor camp (great idea). Have you thought about also sending your son to a summer camp for academically gifted kids? He might find more of his people there and realize that he won’t always be the odd one out.

  75. “what got me through middle school and high school was the belief that when I went to college, I would find my people”

    Me too. Which is also why I worry so much more about college “fit” for DD than for DS.

  76. Along these same lines, what do you think of this essay?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-blanchard/where-helicopter-parents-need-to-hover_b_9628142.html

    I have some reservations about it. I don’t like the ABC After School Special ending, for starters. Also, my mom was always trying to control my social life, so I instantly get my back up at stories where Mom forces you to befriend someone. I was alone in my opinion about this amongst my Facebook friends, though.

  77. And in completely random news, my new mortgage company for the California house just sent me…a totebag! An insulated totebag. Ooo.

  78. ““what got me through middle school and high school was the belief that when I went to college, I would find my people””

    I secretly hoped this, but realized that it probably wouldn’t happen and resigned myself to fate. Maybe it’s the independent only child thing, but I just couldn’t be bothered with people. I secretly longed for acceptance but my previous 18 years showed me that was highly unlikely. I still operate that way.

    Basically, socially, my life sucked most of the time from second grade to 11th grade. The teasing and bullying really didn’t go away until 10th/11th grade. Nearly a decade of hell. College was much better, and yes, I found friends, but not lifetime ones. College taught me that (1) I didn’t need to belong to be fulfilled and (2) friends are good and hold on to them as long as they allow me to.

  79. I wish I had the insulated totebag right now for my wine. We’re driving to a Seder, but Passover traffic combined with regular Friday volume is resulting in a two hour car ride.

    We have a rule that we won’t drive to Long Island for a major Jewish holiday that starts on a Friday night. We did it once in 2002, and it took almost four hours. This is the first time that we are doing this since, and it’s because of the in laws. I’ll need a lot more than a few drops of wine after this ride.

    I think the Huff Post piece is ok if you believe it. I just wonder if this really happened because she makes it seem so easy.

  80. Rhode, thanks. You just helped validate the thousands we’ve spent on our kids’ school tuition.

  81. I’m not sure we’re getting all the context in the HuffPo piece. Was this a matter of figuring out what the issue was and then telling a 4th grader, “She’s new to the school so of course she’s trying to get to know kids and find some friends, it wouldn’t kill you to talk to her at lunch or recess some time, and you may find you like her,” and checking on how it went? That wouldn’t be objectionable, I don’t think, and it could result in the existing friend group warming up to the new girl. But the author presents it more as a case of mom pushing her daughter to make friends with the girl, and checking with the other mom to make sure it happened, and . . . well, I don’t think you can or should force your kids to be friends with someone. For a kid to be civil to another kid when they’re both guests at a social event, sure (i.e. if the parents work together and the kids are both at a company social function, you can expect your kid to make some polite conversation with the other kid). But you can’t force a relationship. Saying ‘Why don’t you make friends with that nice ___, s/he has a list of positive attributes’ has never worked.

  82. I make limited scope friends very easily. I have always been able to be a part of a casual group. However, I have no lifelong or college friends, and when an activity or job or life phase ends, I don’t keep up with any of the people I hung out with in that period of my life. My heart is very well occupied by my family and three or four current (15 years and counting) friends with whom I socialize outside of our shared activities.

    I was a social outcast in school (not college), and probably only tolerated by the neighborhood moms in my homebound days and my coworkers for much of my work life. But I wasn’t miserable or ridiculed (except for the dread ages 9-12), in part because I was oblivious and in part because I had “cred”. I always got away with a lot of social missteps because I was deemed of some value. The phase that was hardest (after middle school) was when I first began to experience the invisibility/inconsequence in public places of a woman-of-a-certain-age. I had to adjust the volume up (and it wasn’t that soft to begin with) and learn how to command attention again in a new fashion.

  83. Boys definitely have as many body issues as girls. They just don’t talk about them. And there’s as much pressure on boys to wear the right brands of clothes etc.

  84. @Rocky/Lauren: I can top that: I just got an insulated totebag, too. From AARP.

    They might as well just emblazon “Old Fart” all over it.

  85. Scarlett on April 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm said:

    “And I DREAD the assisted living cafeteria if I happen to end up there one day.”

    My dad is in independent living, but they have assigned seating at meals (changes monthly) for just that reason. Based on what my dad reports, it’s a lot like seventh grade, except that most of the ladies are hard of hearing so there is a lot of “What??!!” going on.”

    There is a LOT of sex (and STDs) going on at my aunt’s nursing home, so the residents must have figured out how to hook up.

  86. There is a LOT of sex (and STDs) going on at my aunt’s nursing home, so the residents must have figured out how to hook up.

    But when one of the partners coos, “Oooh, baby, talk dirty to me,” the other one replies “WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

  87. Insulated Totebags – Fancy !
    After, I let it be known as work that I would like surplus swag – I now have multiple items with company name on them. No, fancy Totebags though.

  88. Wow, I missed lots of stuff. The elementary school had one of those special dress days recently – you could either do pajamas or twin day. My DD still gets excited about it in a little girl kind of way – not worrying about coordinating with other kids. She LOVES pajama day because she has these dragon PJs with wings and a tail and she loves showing off the PJs. I wonder, though, if this is the last year fior her to be totally excited about showing off her dragon PJs

  89. My DD is very social and tends to flit from kid to kid, never really forming deep friendships. Except in one case – last year she was in a class that was 50% Asian, mainly Japanese, and she started hanging with the Asian crowd as a result, She became tight with 3 Japanese girls, and they have continued the friendship. She goes to all their parties, and is usually the only non-Japanese kid there, though of course she looks similar. One of the girls moved back to Japan in late fall, and DD was heartbroken. Three weeks ago, that girl came back for a visit – they were here for 2 weeks – and DD was so thrilled. They exchange email addresses and hopefully can correspond back and forth.

  90. The ironic thing about the sleeping bag is that at the parent info meeting on the trip, they go on and on about how they do not allow kids to sleep on the floor. “Every kid must be in a bed”, they said over and over.

  91. MM — it is not the last year she can wear dragon pjs. My daughter has worn owl cosplay pajamas for free dress day and at one point she and the others in her section in band were considering all wearing cosplay pajamas. They’r really a thing right now, and there are dragon versions: http://www.amazon.com/Sazac-2724-Dragon-Kigurumi-Costume/dp/B00FFVCTJO/

    I have even seen someone wearing them (the unicorn ones, I think it was) on the street in the downtown business district during the workday. Don’t know what that was about.

  92. I attended a large suburban high school with about 500 kids in my class. There were about 10 levels of popularity, and I was probably at 3 or 4. I certainly wasn’t popular, but had lots of friends, and could move up or down a couple of levels pretty easily. I was pretty shy with boys and never had a boyfriend. My mom was the same way (she had the disadvantage of being her full 5’7″ by 12 years old), but then went to college and had more boyfriends than she knew what to do with. So I had that to look forward to, and while I certainly wasn’t juggling them the way she was (the benefit of going to an all girls school smack in the middle of a bunch of boys schools), I had boyfriends pretty much through college.

    On bullying, our was worse in junior high, and I suffered a little, but by high school it was not a problem for me at all. You did have to be careful about not sounding too smart in the non honors class. I remember a Geography class I took where a nerdy girl used the word “ornate” while giving an oral report, and she was teased about it for the rest of the quarter.

    DD suffered from bullying by the queen bee and her minions for about a year (middle of 7th through middle of 8th). She did not have the power to be a queen bee herself, and didn’t want to be a minion, so she sort of got herself in trouble. Luckily it all went away as they finished up 8th grade.

    If DS was ever bullied in grammar school I never heard about it, but I don’t know that he would have told me.

    They were both in the middle in terms of popularity in their high schools, so no problems there.

  93. My 12 year old niece is in the popular group in her large Catholic grammar school. The girls seem to be pretty nice to each other still, but some of the moms get way too involved in the social/popularity standing of their daughter. They had a middle school dance and a bunch of the girls were invited to have dinner and to “get ready” at “Suzie’s” house (by Suzie’s mom). “Jenny” was not invited – she wants to be part of the group but really isn’t – and Jenny’s mom called another mom to get Jenny a ride to the pre-func, even though Jenny wasn’t invited. I don’t know how it all ended up, but I can’t imagine ever doing something like that. I understand being sad that Jenny wasn’t invited, but why would Jenny want to go to party where she wasn’t included?

  94. I think pajama day, and theme days are great in elementary school. The social issues get trickier in middle school.

    By the way, the hotel room issues happen with the popular kids too. It reminds me of a bad game of musical chairs. I’m glad you were able to work out a solution where he can be with his friends even though it’s not ideal.

  95. Finn, this comedy sketch of an engineer interacting with non-engineers hit home in the “communicating with others” department. We are the “experts” in charge of developing other people’s visions.

  96. MM,

    Is there any way you could pay extra to get him an adjoining room and they could have 4 beds and he wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor? I’m sure if you call the front desk they can arrange it. At lest there is no harm in asking.

    Just a thought.

  97. “And I DREAD the assisted living cafeteria if I happen to end up there one day.”
    It has been upsetting to see over the last few years that my mother is actually a 14 year old mean girl at heart.

  98. Shucks, I missed this. We are not yet into the exclusionary years (luckily!!!) but #1 has started making snarky/not nice remarks to her brother, so we are clamping down on that HARD. I trust our nanny (since she sees the kids more at dropoff/pickup than we do) to tell us about bad behavior by ours or other kids – that way we get more of an inside scoop.

    Middle school and HS were both awful for me – I was only in MS for 2 years (skipped 8th) so the worst of it was in 7th grade. Looking back I probably could have used a therapist for that year at least, but that wasn’t really done in my family or town. HS was less bad than MS but still pretty bad – I had 3 good friends but even they were exclusionary to me at some point, particularly when the role-playing games became a Thing and I wasn’t invited to play at their house. I was also in the theatre/music crowd but we didn’t socialize much outside of the cast parties.

    In contrast, college was FANTASTIC (but I did skip lunch a lot freshman year since I didn’t know what to do if I wasn’t going to lunch with my friends).

  99. One thing about me – and perhaps being a bit excluded a result of having a face full of acne and being overweight as a teen is that I don’t mind going to lunch, dinner, movies etc. by myself. When I lost weight and my face cleared up, my friend who I used to go on sort of double dates with, suddenly felt like I was competition. She started being very self conscious and her dates were not fun. I liked the way I looked, didn’t care how I danced and had fantastic times. We gradually stopped going out and our friendship was done.

  100. My kids are still young, so we haven’t gotten to this stage yet. But I worry about my oldest. He is super sweet and precocious and every teacher that he has ever had has told me that he is an old soul. And he isn’t very athletic and has some lingering physical issues from being born so early. I am sending him to a school that appears to do a good job being inclusive and places a high priority on kindness, but it will kill me if he isn’t included. KILL ME. I don’t care if he is popular, but I want school to be a happy place and for him to have a couple good friends.

    I have been surprised at how early the mean girl stuff can start. There were some instances in both of my sons’ preschool classes. The school shut it down, but it still surprised me. The moms can also engage in mean girl behavior, so maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, but I am able to navigate that well now. A skill that I wish I had developed far earlier when it would have been a lot more useful.

  101. “every teacher that he has ever had has told me that he is an old soul. And he isn’t very athletic”

    He sounds a lot like my DS. In preschool, his teachers called him “our little man,” and he loved talking to the parents as they came to pick up their kids. I think he knew some parents better than he knew their kids.

  102. I had a front row view of a heroin or similar opioid overdose in our town this afternoon, right in the middle of the shopping area that includes Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, Starbucks, etc. The paramedics and police handled it professionally, and the young woman was taken away in an ambulance. I presume she’ll be fine, for now.

    … opioid-related emergency department visits increased statewide 73 percent from 2010 to 2014.

    I know drug use rates are high in our high school, but I thought it was mainly marijuana. However, I believe prescription pill abuse is also a problem.

  103. LfB- thought of you today! I’m at Alton Brown live and his entrance music was from Bucksroo Bonzai when they do the iconic walk scene.

  104. You need to see his live show. 2.5 hours of hilarity, science, and food. We didn’t realize the time until the house lights came up. And he leaked a rumor that Good Eats may be coming back…

  105. Just received an email from the school district that a second grader from DD’s elementary school suddenly passed away. From the way it was worded, it sounds like it was a sudden illness, not an accident. A second grader. That is so sad.

  106. Finn – my son is great with adults! He makes small talk and compliments them. With kids his age it is tougher. He is doing a social skills class this summer, so I hope that helps.

    CoC – terrible. It surprises me that so many teenagers/young people do hard core drugs. The most any one did in my younger days was pot. Maybe the burn outs did a bit of Vicodin. We used to have some kids who would call you up after you got your wisdom teeth removed to see if you had any extra pain killers. But nothing like heroin.

  107. Drugs were rampant in my schools, especially my junior high. It wasn’t as bad in France, but hash was around. In the high school I graduated from, I did know one kid who was on heroin, but mainly pot and pills were the problems (that was the era of qualudes). When I went to college, cocaine was pretty common along with everything else you could ever imagine. I never crossed the line to the opiates, though I knew a few junkies, and my boyfriend used to smoke opium from a hookah with his friends. I have no idea where they got that hookah – they weren’t that common back then. The era in which I was in high school and college was probably the druggiest era before our current time. I think drugs waned in between.

  108. There was an educational movie called “Darkness, Darkness” about heroin use in Palo Alto in the 60s. We saw it in drug education class. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a copy of it for years, but there are only about three extant copies that I can find. The kids in it were a couple years older than my sister and she knew a few of them.

  109. Meanwhile, yet another young person (20 years old and a Gunn High School grad) walked in front of a train and died a few days ago. Palo Alto! Get a grip!

  110. my boyfriend used to smoke opium from a hookah with his friends. I have no idea where they got that hookah – they weren’t that common back then.

    I love how you’re puzzled about where they got the hookah but not where they got the opium.

  111. Yeah, I guess I wasn’t puzzled because everything was around. Funny factoid – you could get a lot of hard drugs at a particular pizzeria a couple of blocks from our dorm. I think dealing drugs is what kept them in business – their pizza wasn’t very good. I also remember some truly scary dealers that came around. And once we went out to Tufts to get something-or-another, and the car broke down in an underpass/tunnel on the way home. We were a bit concerned. The guy driving the car was Japanese, son of someone very high placed, and the only person I ever knew at my university who owned a car. He got rid of it soon after.

  112. I wanted to try a cigarette because it looked cool but early in my life I got a tiny burn on my hand from holding a sparkler. I was afraid of a spark – so lighters and matches unless they were ones with long sticks were out. I could never light up, so I am pathetically uncool.

  113. I was thinking last night during the Springsteen concert that he seems to have lead a pretty clean life for someone in his industry. I don’t know how you can stay on stage for 3 1/2 hours at without a break unless you’re in great shape. He is 67, and you would just never know it by the energy level in his shows. It’s interesting too that his wife isn’t on stage when she has stuff going on with their family. The concert was amazing, and the tribute to Prince was very special.

    As for drugs, I think this continues to be a huge problem in all sorts of communities across the country. I’ve posted that I see it here with some of the parents, and I think it cuts across all economic lines.

    There is a story circulating that three HS students from NYC went to an accepted students weekend at Michigan. They got caught at a party for under aged drinking, and the university withdrew their offers of admission.

  114. I thought I read somewhere recently that heroin use is up because people get addicted to prescription opioids and then can’t get them (or can’t afford those rates) and go looking elsewhere for the high. Tragic, at any rate.

    Mooshi– 2nd grade? That must be so tragically unexpected, that poor family.

    Rocky–I hadn’t heard that, and I’m somewhat local. Either my head is in the sand, or they’ve gotten really good at getting the local papers to quiet up about it to avoid the copy cats. So awful.

    Do I get Totebaggy points? My kids have been begging me to watch this show I hadn’t heard of, the Odd Squad. I finally said yes, and they’ve apparently been begging me to watch this PBS show that, as far as I can tell, deals with math. They think they got away with something, and I’m just over here laughing to myself.

  115. Do I get Totebaggy points?

    We’re officially non-totebaggers. DD got into the HS magnet program, which is a totebaggy thing. However, he had to drop electives because of it. Freshman get to take three electives, and he originally signed up for Spanish, fitness/conditioning/weight training, and regular PE. For the magnet program, freshman have to take an “intro to the magnet program” class. He wants to do the robotics track, and robotics isn’t included in the intro class, so the kids who want to do that track are encouraged to take the first robotics class freshman year. So he needed to drop two electives. The regular PE was the first one, and then we let him drop Spanish so he can take the fitness class.

  116. We watch a lot of Odd Squad. I’m sure it’s moving my kids toward the calculus track, but ugh. There are a lot of annoying linesand verbal tics that came from Olive et al.

    Tulip – have your kids seen Annedroid? It’s very good (and by good, I mean I haven’t seen anything objectionable and my kids don’t move much when it’s on). It’s on Amazon and about the same level as Odd Squad.

  117. My kids both agree that their lives most closely resemble Fresh Off the Boat. I haven’t watched that series but putting it on the list now.

  118. “I don’t mind going to lunch, dinner, movies etc. by myself”

    I never felt comfortable doing this until I became a Mom and was just glad for any time alone

    don’t know why it took me so long

  119. Winemama – I know what you mean. After I had kids, I even started looking forward to dentist and doctor appointments as a way to get some downtime.

  120. “I don’t mind going to lunch, dinner, movies etc. by myself”

    I started doing this in college. For a while, I had a tough time making friends, and if I wanted to do anything, I needed to be comfy on my own. It’s comforting to know that I don’t need people around me to feel secure. And it helps when I’m at conferences and feel like an odd duck.

  121. I never did lunch alone till I started working! First week the two associates next door had lunch together and did not bother inviting me. That started my lunch alone, and surprisingly I was fine with it of I had a book to look at.

    I have only ever tried cigarettes. I had a friend who smoked and I thought it was cool to do that, so I tried and hated it. But I still wanted to kinda hold it in my hands to look cool. The one time I did that, my Dads friend saw us and told dad. There was hell to pay when I got home and the friend was blacklisted by parents for ever!
    Even with my root canals and c-sections, I have never got anything exotic for pain prescribed. After c section I was given Vicodin to be alternated with ibuprofen . I found ibuprofen to work better for me and asked to renew only that prescription.

  122. Ada– Haven’t tried that one, but I’ll keep it in mind the next time they’re bored. One of those shows, Just Add Magic, is actually really cute. Kids liked it, it’s not animated and looks tween-oriented, but they aren’t all eye-rolly and obnoxious like the Disney shows I won’t watch. I mostly found Odd Squad unobjectionable and then tuned out and read my book, so I didn’t really notice what they sounded like!

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