In Pre-K, there's a POPULAR crowd.
Wait, I need to rephrase this to ensure there's no confusion: Apparently, there are 4-YEAR-OLDS... who are COOL.
And that, by definition, means that there are 4-year-olds who are NOT cool.
I'm worried that my eldest daughter might fall into the latter group. And I'm worried that I'm worried.
It's a time-old riddle, one that will certainly not be answered here, but I'm forced to trot it out again regardless: WHAT MAKES CERTAIN KIDS POPULAR AND CERTAIN KIDS NOT?
If we were dealing with high school, there would at least be clues: The cool kids are slutty. The cool kids wear provocative clothes. The cool kids have cigarettes. The cool kids go to parties without parents. The cool kids drink, they smoke pot, they cut class. The cool kids have an air about them that makes the uncool kids just so totally and constantly aware of their lower rank.
Think back: as a teenager, there was never any confusion about whether you were popular or not; you knew. In fact, I can almost tell you the *day* when I made that near-inconceivable transition from the Nerds to the Popular crowd: it was the day that the captain of the soccer team took an interest in me. Soonafter I became his GIRLFRIEND, and bam! I was one of the popular kids. It was a lot like I imagine an apotheosis would be.
But here there are no cigarettes, no tattoos, no piercings, not even any fancy clothes that the rich kids could wear to make the less rich kids feel inferior. IT'S Pre-FREAKING-K. And there are UGLY SCHOOL UNIFORMS. And yet! I knew from DAY ONE which kids made up the popular crowd of that classroom. How is that possible??
You're thinking: Easy! It's the pretty girls and the obnoxious boys! All the other kids are intimidated by their beauty and their ADD!
But no, your theory fails. Because here, the popular crowd consists of 2 girls (though there is no shortage of spazzy boys in the class), and while yes, one girl is cute and blond, the other girl is a shrimp who is, um, decidedly not cute. What gives?
I had high hopes for my eldest daughter when the school year began: her assigned seat was at the blonde's table, and they seemed to be getting on well. More positive indications rolled in when the shrimp invited her over for a playdate. This is good!, I thought. It's not necessarily that I wanted her to be "popular," per se (in fact, I will COMMAND her to be a Nerd in high school, how else can she expect to get into a good college)... but rather, this was her first experience in "the big kids' school" and I wanted it to be great. I wanted her to have lots of friends and to gain confidence and to just generally love every minute of being four.
Then last night. I was tucking her into bed. And she said, in a quiet voice, "Mommy, do we have a list of kids for my 5th birthday party yet?" "No," I replied exhaustedly, "it's 4 months away." "Ok," she said, "well then let's make a list and let's take [Shrimp] off of it." I gasped, silently. "What happened? I thought you and she were friends." My eldest whimpered. "It's just that she's been so mean to me lately, running away from me and laughing at me and not letting me play with them."
And there it was: the decision was in. She had tried out for the popular clique, and she hadn't made the team.
I was sad. Still am sad. Not sure why. I guess because even when the popular kids are dumb, or skanky, or smell like smoke all the time, everyone wants to be one of them, right? Because the popular kids are the deciders. The ones who can make you feel like you're a star or like you're a shadow. And it's rotten and I wish it was otherwise but it's real and it's not going anywhere.
I just had no idea I'd be dealing with it in Pre-K. Sigh.