Friday, May 14, 2010

Playground Trends

"Mom, there is a craze that is sweeping through the fourth grade. Seriously. It's the biggest thing since Pokemon cards."

Now, my oldest is prone to dramatics (one stubbed toe and she limps for a week), but there was clearly some furor going on as she and Abby climbed into the car on Tuesday afternoon.

"Mom, look. They're bracelets. They're stretchy, and when you take them off, they make shapes. I have one because Maddie gave it to me, but Isaiah has TWENTY TWO. Seriously! There was a crowd around him at recess today, but he won't give any away. He'll only trade them. Mom, I NEED some of these bracelets, TODAY. They only have them at Tedeschi's and iParty. Please, oh Greatest Mother in the World!" (Yes, she really did say this.)

They look like this:

Now, Abby, who spends her recess times practicing her Dancing with the Stars routines and Hairspray choreography with her best friend, Eddie, was not as interested, but if Amelia was getting something, by gum, she needed to have it, too. (Eddie, incidentally, has declared his favorite color pink, his fashion sense "impeccable," and his favorite movies Hairspray and The Sound of Music. Eddie and I are going to get to know each other better, and I'm glad that Abby has taken him under her sequined, maribou wing.)

There was the moment of hesitation over the bracelets as I pondered these questions: Am I spoiling my children if I give into their elementary school whims? Am I enabling in them an unfillable need for instant gratification? Do I really want them to feel like they need to be on the cutting edge of every playground trend?

And then I remembered ribbon barettes.

When I was in 4th grade, the greatest playground trends were decorated barettes, and the bestest-most-coolest girls had the kind of barettes with these two coordinating colors, and long pieces that hung down, perfectly distracting and twirlable.

They looked like this:

Some tremendously skillful girls would supposedly make them and sell them, but only to select people. Being utterly and completely UN-select in elementary school for a whole pile-full of therapy-worthy reasons, I was not in that clique. Ever. I did somehow get my hands on one pair, though, and wore them every day. (Whenever I got something that was "in," generally a hand-me-down, like the two-tone acid wash jeans I got in 6th grade from Jan Goldstein, I pretty much wore them every day. I was very clueless.) Anyhow, eventually some snarky girl said something to me about wearing the same things every day, so I decided to branch out and make my own...out of shoelaces. I thought I was very clever, until I got to school, and was mocked for being clueless, for being too poor to buy the "real thing," and for putting pieces of dirty cut-up shoelaces onto my barrettes and into my hair. Score: Negative one for creativity. Conformity wins again.

I vowed then and there that if I ever had children, and there were ever some must-have trend, that I would make sure that they had whatever thing that was, the real thing, not a copy, within reason. (I had no idea what "within reason" might have meant, but I had yet to learn to dream big. That came later.)

So, yes, we trotted to Tedeschi's and each girl got two $2 packages of stretchy bracelets in animal and moving vehicle shapes, and they've worn them on their wrists every day since then, and traded with the other playground crew. The condition, however, was this: if there were any single child in the whole entire class who did not have a stretchy bracelet, they were to privately give them two, and not say a single word to anyone about it.

And though I know that I go overboard, (especially now with this new house and their own rooms), and that my children are so far over the "have it" scale, I know, too, that we are raising them to be conscious and appreciative, and to recognize that for everything they have, there is some other kid out there who wants it, and can't have it. And they have to share.

They get it.

On another note, my new house so freaking rocks I can't even stand it. It's everything I hoped it would be and more more more. It doesn't smell like home yet, but I'm hoping another weekend of burning lilac candles for 18 hours might do the trick. And nothing's hung on the walls, including curtains, but that's coming this weekend also. Our middle school play was totally adorable (except that Horton the Elephant fell of the stage and broke his wrist at the end of the second number - yes, really. He kept on going, and didn't know it was broken until he got it x-rayed five days later. THAT'S never happened in one of my shows before - the closest is when I fell backstage during Hello, Dolly! at Duxbury High and broke my own nose. That was fun.)

And I have 21 days of school left. Oh, my cup runneth over with happy thoughts!


  1. Sophia didnt ask me for the braclets since she thought I would say no, but I overheard her being sad that no one will give her any. When I found out how cheep they were I got her some and told her to ask from now on. That if it were expensive and I thought it would blow over soon, I might say no, but for $2 a pack, she could certainly have one pack, and even could have used her savings to get them. I didnt think of asking her to share with someone who didnt have one, but I will have that conversation today! Another great parenting tip, thanks!

  2. You both rock as moms. I remember the "friendship pins" fad as a kid they were safety pins with beads of different colors on them. They were in that same culture of you were only in the "in" crowd if someone gave them to you.
    It was really nice of both you to help your kids participate in it.

  3. We had friendship pins, too! I have my sixth graders made them now at the end of the year on our craft day, and I totally tell them the story of feeling like the one out of the loop, so they can at least recognize that sometimes, the sting of that lingers. Who knows if it makes a difference in the long run, but I feel like any little seed of compassion that you can plant can potentially become something...

    And Elise, I think asking is the key. I didn't really think to ask my mom for stuff like that in the day. I think she would have understood, though, if I had...

  4. Sophia and I just had the conversation. They are outlawed at her school now, but hopefully the idea will sink in.

  5. Valentines Day as a 12 year old:
    I was always given these instructions regarding the Student Council Carnation Valentines Day ritual.
    I was told (by my Mom) to buy 2 carnations. Buy 1 for a girl that you are friendly with and buy 1 for a girl who wasn't going to get one.
    You and your kids are amazing and making this world (or at least the school yard) a better place.