Mr Popularity

My boys are getting to an age now where despite their inherent adorableness, maybe I shouldn’t exploit them and their personal stories for the blog in the same way I once did. Of course, the toddling menace is still fair game, but at six and eight, the big boys are starting to deserve a little extra privacy and respect, I think.

Giving up such a rich source of blog fodder has made me sad — I feel I’ve lost easy intimacy with which I once blogged. Recently, though, I realized that in my trio of boys not only am I my own perpetual hand-me-down machine, but I can blog generically with a single pronoun. I can blog about a boy, not that boy. So this is a story not about a specific boy, but about any generic boy who might be a son of mine.

Let me amble down one more tangential preface by saying this: those of you who have been around for a while might remember that I have, um, some social issues left over from my grade school years. I was, for reasons that mystify me to this day, the runt of the litter among my peers. Often singled out for teasing and never part of the in-crowd, my grade school years were something to be endured rather than enjoyed. So when the boys turned from toddlers to preschoolers to kindergarteners, my own anxiety levels crept steadily upward. I really wasn’t sure I could face the inherent cruelty of school-agers again, even if by proxy.

I needn’t have worried.

This boy we’re not specifying is Mr Popularity. Remember Norm from Cheers? It’s like that every single day when we bring this boy to school — his classmates call out enthusiastic greetings to him as if he’s been gone for weeks instead of hours. He gets invited to all the birthday parties. He gets chosen at least once a week to be the “special helper” of the person of the day, from a rotating roster of admirers.

I’m proud, if not perplexed. I mean, no doubt he’s a delightful boy, and I love him dearly. But he’s prone to snarkiness at home, and a whinyness that grates like fingers on a chalkboard. He’s my son and so of course I think he’s the smartest, sweetest thing to ever walk on two legs — it’s just sweetly perplexing that his entire class seems to think so as well.

All of this is charming, to say the least. But it’s somewhat problematic as well. In addition to the unexpected chat about how it is not appropriate to kiss your girlfriend in the cloak room (at five years old, no less! Five!!) there has been an unanticipated burden in all this affection.

I don’t know what to do with the love notes.

Every single day, his backpack overflows (I kid you not) with paper hearts and cards. Books constructed of coloured paper stapled crookedly down one side depict rainbows, flowers and butterflies. This week, we’ve received printed declarations of love, etched in a beginning-writer’s careful print from two different girls. It would be adorable if I weren’t trying to figure out what to do with it all every. single. day. This is today’s cull:

love notes

My boys are creative souls, and not a day goes by without drawings and crafts being made. Clutter is already a huge issue in my house, and even a nostalgic soul like me has to toughen up and throw most of it out. So call me cruel, but I just can’t preserve this growing stack of everlasting love declared on bristol board and glitter. But I am conflicted. I have been that girl, pouring out that unrequited love, deep in my conviction that the six-year-old cutie sitting at the next desk would be my soul mate for life.

The boy is stoic about all this female attention. He calls each of them his girlfriend, but says he loves each of them in a different way. I suppose I needn’t have worried about them being excluded. Just the opposite, in fact. My boy is a playa.

Who knew it was possible to be proud and mortified at the same time?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

12 thoughts on “Mr Popularity”

  1. My husband and I have our own demons from school years, and as our boy gets older, it is facinating how smart and cute he is; although we cannot help to think that the same experience you now have could reach us sooner or later.
    I think that teen age and these changes, follow us to help us to close those “unfinished business”, having the chance not to replay the same mistakes our parents did, but to remember what we would’ve liked to have from them meanning guidance and conseils. Sometimes I’m afraid of these changes, some others I’m afraid of cannot do more. But everyone has its own lifetime to experience, and I think I’m here to give him only the tools for him to take de decisions.
    We’ll see how it goes.
    Ps. you’re not alone in this.

  2. that’s a charmed sort of position to be in. hope he stays in such a lovely feedback loop at school.

    you never know what randomness genes will do. my tomboy cousin birthed an absolute glittery girly-girl.

  3. He loves them all in a different way…

    That just made my day:))
    and you SO have to keep every letter:))
    at least photograph them;)

  4. You mean the exploitation of my boys’ antics will have to stop one day?

    Those letters are awesome and his rationale for two-timing is adorable and show’s a generous spirit, which is probably what makes him so likable to his peers.

    But, I would have no time (or room) for that paper. Perhaps photos are in order, given your talent and interest, but there is no way I would bother with that clutter. Recycle!

  5. Adorable post for sure but as the mother of a daughter I am also perplexed by the fact that 6 or 8 year old girls would devote so much time to love notes for boys … (not either of yours of course, they are both (all) quite adorable) …. but growing up we certainly did valentines and I can remember my own 2nd grade crush quite well but never did i overtly ‘pursue’ it in the form of notes and pictures for him … i’m worried by the openess of today’s culture and what today’s 7 year old love notes turn into at the age of 14. speaking with friends who have sons and daughters in grades 9, 10, and 11, I am shocked by the openess and frequency of quite adult behaviour and am perplexed with how to deal with it …

  6. My girls are 6&8 too (maybe we should introduce them 🙂
    One of my girls is very popular too, and the other one is just like I was, shy and full of angst. I am usually at a loss on how to parent them and help them to be successful children at school. Goodness knows I wasn’t.

  7. I know this falls under ‘wet blanket’, but it is never too early to sow the seeds of always respecting women, particularly if they are going to be throwing themselves at him like this. It won’t be long before his buddies will be displaying behaviours quite the opposite, might as well get in there early.

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