Monday, September 29, 2008

What's Brown and Sticky?

From what I can gather from Erika, my source for the current state of school affairs, the popular kids at school these days are the funny ones.

When Erika was in kindergarten, all the girls wanted to eat lunch with Kyle, who made the girls giggle so hard they snorted their milk. Now that she's in elementary school, Erika has no interest in Kyle—he plays with the mean boys, she says—and has moved on to David, who seems to be the apple in many 2nd grade girls' eyes. At the back-to-school picnic, Amy spotted David easily by the half-dozen girls surrounding him like a pack of hungry lions. I couldn't help but be surprised at how smug Amy was that Erika got the first play date of the new school year with David last week.

If David is any indication, my boys are off to a good start on the road to popularity. Even though they're just toddlers, they've already mastered…

Dry humor:
Me: Goodnight, Ronan!
Ronan: I not Ronan, I Declan! (rolls around bed laughing)

Slapstick humor:
Ronan: Getchen, look at me! (Smacks self in head and falls on floor. Gretchen laughs. Repeat.)

Me: You can play for 5 minutes before bed.
Declan: 5 minutes? Wow.

And, of course, political humor:
Me: Who do you think should be the next president, Obama or McCain?
Declan: Blabii da da goo goo! (drops to floor in fit of hysterics)

Humor plays a huge part in our household. The one joke Matty knows is a family favorite (What's brown and sticky? A stick!), and Andy begins teaching each of the kids jokes as soon as they can talk.

A three-year-old trying to tell a joke is always funny. Even if she can't quite tell it right. Actually, especially if she can't quite tell it right. Which is what happened at Thanksgiving four years ago, when Andy whispered a joke into Erika's ear, and she stood up at the head of the table to repeat it:

Erika: Two penises were walking down the street…

Stunned silence.

Andy: No! Two PEANUTS were walking down the street!

I'm not sure which was funnier, that Erika yelled "penises" in front of two dozen family members, or that each and every one of those family members believed Andy would actually teach her a joke that involved said penises.

Either way, with role models like these, I think Declan and Ronan are well on their way to popularity… or the principal's office.


Anonymous said...


I have a nephew whose gender orientation I am much concerned about - or maybe I should say I'm concerned whether its his orientation or his mothers for him. Anyway, I ran across your Pink Son article and wondered if Declan has grown out of his feminine interests or how things have progressed since then. Thanks in advance for anything you can tell me.

Annette Morrison

Keri said...

Declan's love of all things pink seems to have subsided... He stopped wearing princess dresses just a few months after he started. He still loves to dress up, though now as a pirate or Peter Pan.

His best friends are girls, and he loves imaginary play, but he also has some good male friends and loves to run and jump and wrestle.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Keri.

I think lots of little boys go through the stage you've described with Declan. Perfectly normal.

Problem I have is this: my niece saw this in her son and was delighted with it. Needless to say, she's always wanted a daughter. So, she's REALLY encouraged him. Bought him lots of girl clothes, let his hair get way too long for a boy and even though I think he's ready to move on, mom is still playing dress up with him.... a lot!

I'm concerned for him. He's 4 now and I think he's actually been pass the princess stage for at least a year. But right now, he couldn't pass for a boy if he were wearing a three-piece suit and tie.

Too bad she can't just have a little girl. She'd be a great mom for one. Not sure I can say that about her as a mom for a boy.

Anonymous said...

ok, that post cracked me up even though it is only 7am here.

Do your kids' schools really have popular and unpopular kids already? Really?

I went to your site after a long while away gleefully anticipating a bonanza of posts but, alas, there was only one. At least it was a good one.

Come visit us in Japan at


Anonymous said...

Are you seriously reporting that you are actually taking notes about the poplarity of your, what, seven or eight year old? Scheming for playdates with the popular kids before anyone else? And then congratulating youself?

This is some pretty screwed-up behavior. Shouldn't good parents try to instill self-confidence and independence in their kids, rather than track their popularity and/or maneuver to get with the "in crowd" of second-graders? Unless there is some sort of behavioral problem, why care about how many kids hang around at recess? And smugness for the "first playdate of the year with the popular kid" has got to be a solid entry for "parent with serious self-confidence issues", I'm sorry to say. Wouldn't simply bribing the kids in the class (or, more to the point, their parents) be more direct? As the poster above noted, what's up with the schools that generates this behavior? In second grade??


Keri said...

Dear Anonymous (#2),

I'm sorry if my post wasn't received in the tongue-in-cheek manner in which it was presented. I was mostly just trying to be funny.

But I think it's naive to think that issues of popularity don't exist in 2nd grade, and misguided to blame the schools. Kids are inclusive and exclusive at a very young age. We see it all the time in our household: sometimes Gretchen and Aaron, just 2-years-old, won't let Ronan (2 1/2) play with them. Erika (7) and Hilary (5) often develop elaborate games in which Declan (4) is not welcome.

Last year, when Hilary was 4, she came home from preschool one day announcing that she ate lunch alone, because her best friend was absent and no one else would sit with her. In Declan's class last year, there were issues with some of the girls forming a clique and excluding other girls. This when they were 3 years old!

As for maneuvering to get in the "in crowd," this simply isn't the case. David, and other "popular" kids, are by definition well-liked by their peers. That's why kids like Erika want to play with them.

As parents, we only want our kids to be happy. And for most kids, that means having friends who share their interests. That's all I want for my kids.

Thanks for your comments,

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