Saturday, December 10, 2005

popular -- in a good way

When I went to the girls' parent-teacher conferences, Bebe's teacher asked me if I had any concerns. I asked if she had friends; if she got along with the other kids. I said I often watched the girls when they dropped their backpacks off at the classrooms and Beebs would just stand there, looking a little sad and lonely and it worried me a bit. Her teacher laughed and said, "Oh, Elizabeth is very popular. All her classmates like her, she's helpful, and she makes them laugh. Yeah, she's really popular with the other kids."

Now, as someone who was most decidedly not popular, I am both comforted and concerned. I knew kids growing up who were popular and kind of mean and nasty. And I don't want my kids to be that kind of popular. But the teacher's comments lead me to believe that maybe Bebe will be popular in a good way -- liked and also kind and open to all kids. I hope she'll be like a classmate of mine -- Laura Sass.

(I'm putting her name here because maybe she'll Google herself and see that I thought she was neat-o. Heh.)

I went all through school with Laura. She was pretty, with long blonde hair and blue eyes and freckles across her nose. I was so enamored of those freckles that I tried to give myself some with my mom's eyebrow pencil. As we went through school, she always invited me to her slumber parties -- I felt like the odd person out, but she was so kind and friendly to me when lots of kids weren't. In high school, she was a cheerleader and had a completely different circle of friends from me.

But one day, I saw her do something that I thought was terribly sweet. The cheerleaders would make up these mascot things, one for each player and they'd tape them to the wall in the lobby on Friday before the football games. Before the first class, girlfriends of the players would take the ones for their boyfriends and put them in their lockers (the girlfriends' lockers, that is). Girls who liked certain players would take down the ones of the boys they liked. Of course, there were always players whose mascots would be left on the wall -- no one wanted them. I came late to school one morning and saw Laura taking down the leftover decorations. As I was signing in at attendance, I watched her walk to her locker and stick them inside the door to display them. She could have thrown them away. But, instead, she displayed them as if those boys were worthy and deserving. Which, of course, they were and she recognized that. That one small act by a very well-liked and popular girl has stuck with me.

So, I hope that my Elizabeth, if she continues to be popular, can handle that with as much grace and charm as Laura. There should be no shame in being well-liked. Especially if you deserve to be.

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