being popular

One thing I didn’t factor in to my decision to procreate was the fact that my child’s early socialization would be largely dependent on my own ability to make friends. And I just don’t make friends. Not really and not easily.

My life has mostly been barren where close relationships are concerned. Growing up, I never had a best friend. I flitted from crowd to crowd. Jockettes. Band geeks. Newspaper nerds.

A college friend, who also went to high school with me, once commented,

“I never could figure out why you hung out with us (band geeks) when you could have been friends with anyone.”

And that’s the heart of the problem. I could be friends with anyone and so I am friends with very few. My personality is not calibrated to crowds, in or out. And friends were work. Work with dubious pay-off. On those occasions that I did put in the time and effort, my reward was second-rate. I seldom made the top-tier friend status with those who I was really attracted to as people.

Some of this, I know now, relates to my life’s mission. But some of it gets back to my distinct lack of “follower” DNA.

How does this relate then to motherhood?

Come to discover that my daughter’s popularity, or lack thereof, is directly proportional to my standing in the eyes of her friends’ mothers.

At the moment, I am a down arrow in terms of stock value.

It’s been coming. I saw it. The dance moms noses have actually gotten longer looking down at me this year for my indifferent regard for protocol. A few of them are in danger of becoming cross-eyed from all the askance looks they’ve shot my way.

I don’t care what other women – or people in general – think of me, and that is a statement I haven’t always been able to lay claim to over the years, but it bothers me that my lack of popularity reflects on Dee, who should be judged (well, she shouldn’t be judged ever really) on her own merit. She is a person in her own right after all and not just an appendage of me. Unlike many of the mothers I have met since becoming one, I didn’t have Dee to fulfill any thwarted childhood dreams of my own.

Recently, there was an “incident” with a ballet teacher that prompted me to pull Dee from the school just a week before the year-end performance. My doing this was based on Dee’s emotional well-being. I didn’t want to force her to continue when it was clear that the teacher had no regard for her as a person and saw her as merely a backdrop for her more talented students. This wasn’t the first problem with this particular teacher and forcing Dee to gut it out would have  – in my opinion – taught her that taking abuse from people is what “good girls” do for the greater good of her friends. Being female is enough of a trial in this world without reinforcing the ridiculous notion of “sucking it up” as a virtue.*

I earned a bit of scorn for this from the mothers of Dee’s dancemates. One in particular demonstrated her ire when she forbade her daughter – Dee’s school classmate – from dancing with Dee at the school talent show.

Dee has wanted to perform in the school performance since kindergarten. Her friend agreed to do the ballet number they’d learned together, but her mother won’t allow it. Retribution.

Only it’s directed at me through Dee. Which stinks. I have no patience with people who use children to prove points to adults.

Fortunately, Dee really doesn’t understand what has occurred. I sent a note to her teacher to let her know what happened and to keep her on the alert for anything that might come up.

Dee’s friend and her twin sister host an end of the year day long party and sleep-over the weekend after school gets out. Dee has always been invited. This year I doubt she will be. Another social conformity lesson for me that my daughter will have to pay for and won’t understand. The sad thing is that it won’t change me. I am unlikely, at my age, to bend to the will of people who I wouldn’t have chosen to make friends with in the first place.

It’s not that I dislike these women. They are nice. I’ve had pleasant conversations and passed time in their company. I am just not … I don’t know … someone who feels the need to run my life by committee or needs a lot of outside approval or validation? It’s hard to explain.

I made the right decision for Dee. I am her mother first and the children who were in her dance groups are not my primary concern. I find it hard to fathom that any of them were greatly affected by Dee’s absence anyway. The attrition rate at the end of the year performances (there are two) is high because they fall on weekend evenings and in this neck of Alberta – in June – that’s RV and lake lot season. People bugger off on the weekends. We don’t have a long summer season and no one squanders the tiny bit of time we get.

*There are times and places for sticking things out but not when you are being used or treated badly.