Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The New Girl In Town

I have a very yummy - and natural! - kettle corn giveaway here!


Growing up, I moved around a lot. Well, somewhat a lot - I know people who moved way more than me, but ... point being we moved six times before I hit the fourth grade. Generally, I was fine with that. I always loved exploring new places and meeting new friends and the like. I'm lucky that way.

It was slightly different when I moved to that new school in fourth grade though. While my parents are by no means poor, we are absolutely not conspicuously wealthy either. The Catholic school they sent me to? Wow.

The conversations - at fourth grade - were about the pool at the country club, the boating they did on the weekend, the designer jeans, etc etc.

And me? I had no country club. I'd never been on a boat. And jeans? Ha! My conservative mom had never bought me any. I honestly didn't own a pair.

As I started to see the lay of the land, I began begging my mom for some of these things - not realizing the cost of a country club membership or how far out of reach that would be. We never did join that country club. And we never got a boat.

On the plus side, we became really good friends with a couple people who had a boat who invited us on it regularly. And I became good friends with a couple of girls who also didn't do the boating thing (by choice) where it wasn't a focus.

Since it was the 80's, once I convinced my mom to buy me some Jordache jeans, I eventually learned how to roll them up properly so that I fit in. Mostly.

But oh that terror in my heart, the fear that seized me and froze me when the girls would start to talk and then just ... look at me. Waiting for me to contribute. And in the fourth grade, I didn't have anything to contribute.

It was the hardest time I ever had fitting in, and my mom didn't get it. I was reminded of this struggle when reading Girl in Translation recently by Jean Kwok (which I highly recommend reading - loved, loved, loved this book). In the end, I found my place in that school and in that town, but it was so different from anything I'd experienced prior to that.

And honestly? It was probably a very healthy eye-opening experience. For me to see the difference in people so starkly, to see the focus on wealth and learn how to deal with it when I ... wasn't quite in their league, I think made me a far stronger and happier person.

It allowed me the happiness to buy a house that we can afford rather than stretching. And it allowed me the courage to finally quit my job to stay home with the wee ones - a far more important job, anyway.

What lessons has your childhood taught you?

This post is a part of is Silicon Valley Mom's Blog book club. Go check out what this book inspired in other moms. I received a copy of the book to inspire my post (and highly recommend it), but this is not a review, nor did I receive any compensation for writing this post.


septembermom June 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM  

Childhood taught me to root for the underdog. I guess I always felt like one. I try to teach my kids the same thing.

Tara R. June 23, 2010 at 3:48 PM  

My childhood taught me how NOT to be a parent and spouse. I hope I've broken that cycle and my kids can say I taught them the right way to be both.

Debbie June 23, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

I'm glad you came out of your childhood with lessons that have made you such a strong adult. I had some pretty rough patches and I think it made me very resilient.

Karen June 23, 2010 at 10:50 PM  

Lessons learned in childhood are the best - they stick with you forever. I think growing up on a farm gave me a broader view of the circle of life, and how unfair things are. That's big to a kid, and something even adults need to work on occasionally.

Unknown Mami June 23, 2010 at 11:30 PM  

Jordache jeans! We were straight up poor and I remember my mom heard of a place that sold Jordache jeans for cheap. We planned when we were going and I could hardly wait. When we got there, I got a pair and the coolest rainbow shirt in the world!

I've learned a lot from having to navigate around people from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Stop by when you get a chance. I moved to wordpress and I'm not sure I configured the feeds correctly so I might not show up in any of your readers.

anymommy June 23, 2010 at 11:43 PM  

I moved around a lot too as a kid. It does teach you a lot. I think I'm more sensitive than most to someone else feeling left out in a social situation. Too many lunches alone at a cafeteria table ;-)

Pat June 24, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

This is kind of sad and cynical, but I learned to be self-sufficient because no one else was going to take care of me. That was my perspective, anyway. I still want to do everything myself and not count on anyone else to do it. I'm learning to ask my husband for help when I need it, though. He's always happy to help.

Michelle June 25, 2010 at 12:16 AM  

Kelly - I love that. I've always had a soft spot for the underdog, too. Great lesson to teach.

Tara - Ohhhh yeah. That's somewhat of a necessary one sometimes, and I think you've done a fantastic job.

Debbie - Resiliency is key. I'm (still) reading a great book about it by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, and it's one of the "duh" moments.

Karen - They definitely stick forever. You're absolutely right that thre are adults who could work on some of that perspective.

Unknown Mami - Oh I miss the days when rainbow shirts were cool. I'm sort of glad that they aren't anymore, but ... some twisted part of me misses it.

Stacey - Somehow I just can't picture you sitting alone at a cafeteria table....

Pat - It's a good skill to learn, but you're right that there's a time and place to ask for help. I love that your husband is there for you!

Melisa with one S June 25, 2010 at 5:33 AM  

My childhood taught me how to be a parent, something I didn't realize until I actually became one. I discovered what a great job my own parents did (I'm not saying that to sound egotistical; I'm just saying that they raised us to be nice, well-adjusted girls. :) )

Michelle June 26, 2010 at 9:44 PM  

Melisa - I don't think you sound egotistical at all. It's the realization that your parents did well, which is a tribute to them. :)

Rachel Inbar June 27, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

Stopped by from a BlogHer ad on my blog.

Jordache jeans... In 1981, I went to a really wealthy Jewish school in Deal, NJ after having been in US Army schools up to 6th grade. My dad was stationed at Fort Monmouth for just 6 months. One girl felt so bad for me that I didn't have any that she finally gave me a pair of hers that didn't fit any more. When I got grass stains on it, I decided to take care of it myself... by pouring BLEACH all over the stains. My mom made me wear them after that... When I had a birthday party at my house, the kids walked through the house to the backyard and then asked where the house was - they'd thought the whole house was the entrance hall...

From my childhood I learned that your siblings are always going to be there for you, even if they declared that they absolutely hate you and you have cooties, that I can make new friends anywhere I go, that living in one place for a long time is something to appreciate, that there are people who are really special who you meet along the way and who make a big difference in your life, even if you've only known them for a short time... And probably a lot of other things too.

Michelle June 27, 2010 at 9:38 PM  

Rachel - Ohhhh I so feel for you with that bleach. That had to be so painful for you... along with the party incident. I just hope I can show the wee ones that you'll be able to look back and smile someday!

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