Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anna's big weekend

For the second year in a row, Anna's birthday fell on Prom weekend. Saturday night was the big dance and after prom extravaganza.

Anna with Mom and Dad before the big event.

Exchanging flowers with date Colby.

Anna and Colby

Anna with besties Kenzie, Abbey and Daryl.

Today we celebrated Anna's 18th birthday. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that she looked like this:

Me with newborn Anna.

Opening presents with the always helpful littles in attendance.

Eighteen candles!

Not one of the cool kids

I wish I had the ability to draw my thoughts out of my brain with a magic wand like they do in Harry Potter. Because I come up with some really insightful prose while I'm laying in bed before I go to sleep. The problem is, then I actually do go to sleep and the thoughts are gone by morning. If I could pull them out and save them somehow, that would be, well, magic.

I'll try to be coherent with just my muggle powers of recall.

So anyway, I was laying there the other night and some thoughts were percolating. The first one revolved around, for lack of a better word, "popularity". Normally, I would say that I quit worrying about popularity a long time ago... like sometime after high school graduation. Which is really good, because although I seem to generally get along with people well, I have never been that girl who is the super cool one to hang with. I had a brush with this in the mid-nineties when I had a good friend who was that girl... but ultimately my coolness faded away with the friendship after we moved to a new city. And honestly, I have been okay with that.

I had an experience recently however, that unsettled me a lot. While working on a project with a group I am involved with, I gradually realized that a member had subtly managed to guide the group into two segments: the preferred members (let's call them "the cool kids") and the not so preferred members (let's call them "the dorks"). I found myself squarely among the dorks, naturally, which didn't really bother me at first. The project kept us very busy with not a lot of extra time for socializing. But as time wore on, I found myself sort of pushed to the margins of conversations and the recipient of some subtly disguised mildly derisive comments. I wasn't alone, but my dork contingent was noticeably smaller than the cool kids contingent... and quite frankly, I'm pretty sure that most of the cool kids didn't even notice that we poor dorks were being marginalized in this way. They were enthralled by the head cool kid. It didn't take very long for me to feel like crap and want to be anywhere but with that group.

I am almost 49 years old, and I was reduced to crying alone because some people didn't like me.

It made me think of all the teenagers and kids who are treated that way everyday... kids who don't have almost fifty years of life experience to deal with their hurt feelings. It's sad. It also makes me wonder why in the world does this still occur at my age? I just don't understand why we can't all be nice to each other. Our whole culture seems to revolve around self-preservation and self-promotion and "telling it like it is"... which is frequently, in my experience, a cheap excuse for saying whatever one wants to whomever one wants without any regard for politeness or the feelings of others.

I don't think I am blameless here, either.

I am going to be making a special effort to watch my words and how I treat people... family, friends, the salesperson who just annoyed the heck out of me, complete strangers... because being kind is worth the effort. That annoying lady at the board committee meeting who just goes on and on and on, dragging out a meeting for what seem to be interminable minutes... maybe this is her passion and she doesn't have anyone else to share it with. Including others is worth the effort. It might be more truthful to say to the kid at the McDonald's counter "Your inability to count change correctly is delaying me by five extra minutes, and I had to wait 10 minutes in this drive-through lane. Don't you have any basic math skills?"... But really, "thank you" while receiving my change is all that is needed. Also, it's a much better example for my children. Maybe I can start a trend and be a cool kid after all.