Monday, April 15, 2013

You think you're so hot!

     I was recently reminded that I may be alienating myself, Husband and the kids by announcing my views and thoughts in a public forum. That people who meet us or don't know us well may consider my views and humor to be off-putting or they may be misunderstood entirely. I might be pissing off everyone I know. I have no idea. Sigh....I wish I cared more, but I just don't.

     This blog isn't for YOU. It's for me. Sure it's nice that I have a few readers, because everyone likes to feel understood and accepted. But I'm not trying to be internet famous, or make money off this. And if you don't like what I have to say, don't read it. If I am your friend and you read something here you disagree with, let's talk about it. Or shut up because I didn't say those things about/to YOU, in particular. Not everything is about you.

     Actually, I have restrained myself quite a bit in this forum. One time I re-wrote the same paragraph a dozen times to make sure it was not too offensive. That's love, folks. But ultimately, I write here because I love to write, and if someone else enjoys my journey, that makes me happy. If they don't, I care very, very little, if at all.

     Now that THAT issue has been addressed, let's move on.

    When I was a kid (remember, a GIRL kid), one of the worst insults you could receive was, "You think you're SO HOT!", and likewise, "You are so conceited!". Hearing those words come out of my friends' or enemies mouth pissed me off more than anything else. I admit, I used both phrases toward my friends just as much as anyone else. It was our most vicious attack, short of cussing at each other, which one just DID NOT do. I was in the shower today thinking about how ridiculous an insult it was, and also about how much it hurt. We used it to convey our anger over someone thinking their ideas were better than our own, or because they were being bossy. Or sometimes just because we were mad that nobody liked our suggestion to whatever game of pretend we had going.

    I remember a particular occasion where all the kids in my neighborhood were playing war. This happened to be one of our most epic games of war, which had already lasted for days. We'd all run home from the bus stop, rush through any homework and snacks, and then meet in our forts to make weapons out of sticks and bamboo or discuss strategy for the day's battle. On this day, I was inspired by learning about the legend of the Trojan horse in class, and I also spent my free time in the school library reading about Indian weaponry. I was dedicated to win this war, and my brilliant ideas would surely bring more territory to my kingdom. However, my fellow soldiers were not impressed. They wanted to spend another day in the tree throwing dirt clods at our enemies from above. Were they nuts? Our adversaries already knew that trick from yesterday, and they'd just be waiting at the bottom of the tree with their Wiffle-ball bats all afternoon and make us all late for dinner again! No matter what I said to try and convince them, nobody got on board. I was so frustrated and sure of my Trojan horse (refrigerator box) trick, that I threatened to stop bamboo trade with the other team if I didn't get my way. See, my house was the only one with bamboo in the backyard, and it was easily the hottest commodity in the neighborhood at the moment. We traded it for dirt clods from the other team, whose base was at the railroad tracks. But EVERYONE needed bamboo. If I stopped supplying it to the war, the whole game would end. And this one was a really, really good game.

     Next thing I knew, my whole team was yelling at me. "You think you're SO HOT, Kerry, just because you have all the bamboo! We're not playing with you anymore, you're conceited!", and they left to go tell the other team about what a greedy, conceited brat I was. I immediately regretted my decision, because they moved the fort from my backyard and relocated, and told me I was out of their team. Then I had to try and get on the other team so I could still play, which was totally humiliating. Luckily my team forgave me so I let my Trojan horse idea go and resigned myself to fetching fresh dirt clods for my soldiers in the new fort.

     Being conceited was an even bigger deal when I was in Jr. High. I can't even count how many times I had older girls threaten to beat me up because of some falsely perceived act of conceit on my part. For example, the popular girls in P.E. class wanted to pummel me once because I didn't wear a T-shirt over my swimsuit the first time we used the pool, so that made me conceited. Needless to say, I never made that mistake again. In reality, I just didn't know we were allowed to wear a shirt over our swimsuits, or I would definitely have worn the longest, widest Tshirt I could find, because being half naked in front of 60 other 13 year olds was absolutely horrifying.

     So in that climate of childhood, where having a creative idea or being different makes you conceited and turns you into a target, how were we supposed to have any self confidence? Thankfully for me, my Mom was always telling me how smart and pretty I was, so often that I believed her. Even as depressing and bleak as my awkward phase was, from about 5th grade to 9th grade, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I'd grow out of it and one day NOT be an dorky, clumsy, naive, funny looking ball of acne with no boobs and greasy hair. Because Mom said so. Ha ha...little did I know that the acne would come back with a vengeance at 25 and the boobs never came in, but whatever. It's a give and take I guess.

     "They" say that little girls have even more negative images and ideas to sort through on their quest for self-confidence these days than when I was little. I'm sure that's true, but there's also things like, the DOVE campaign which uses varied ages, sizes and shapes of models in their advertising, and offers a self-esteem toolkit for little girls on their website. So I think at least the message is out there that it is okay and right for us to feel good about ourselves just the way we are. If that message has translated to schoolyards, I doubt it. But I hope.

     I can't imagine my beautiful, smart little girl trying to hide her intelligence or beauty in order to fit in and be liked, or that she could be ostracized for being unique. But I know it's totally possible. Just one more reason why having a girl scares me sometimes. She has already brought me to so many reflections on myself and my values, at only 13 months old! That's a good thing though. It just blows my mind sometimes, how insane a journey it is to be a parent. It makes you stretch in ways you never thought possible. I want Bug to be proud of herself, no matter if it's cool or not. I guess that's what every decent Mom wants for their kid.


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