• Thu, Feb 20 - 11:00 am ET

My Daughter Is ‘Cool’ And That’s Way Better Than Being ‘Popular’

imagesPopularity is as confusing as an Excel spread sheet these days. No longer is it about just the students, it’s about logistics too. My ten-year-old daughter, who goes to an all girls school, explained to me for more than twenty minutes what “popular” means at her school. I had so many questions, and I was stunned at how “popular” now works in these modern times. I asked her if the teachers were aware of this, and she said, “No. You can’t tell them!” I promised I wouldn’t. But I told her I was writing about it.

I will tell you that being popular these days, or wanting to be popular, is as confusing and difficult as figuring out, let’s say, how a car engine works. (At least for me.) It starts at the beginning of the school year.

On the first week of school, there is something called, “acceptance week.” The teachers know nothing about this. During that week, the children decide what group they want to be in. There are four groups: “The Populars,” “The Cools,” “The Losers,” and “The Outcasts.”

You can choose what group you want to be in. But once you’re in that group, you are pretty much stuck there for the entire year. But what really shocked me was how, in pretty much every class or room in their school, “The Populars,” have their special hang out. Even down to the locker rooms! (When I went to school, the “Populars” only hung out in ONE place.) They didn’t mark their spots, like dogs, all over the school.

After their weekly swim lessons, “The Populars” hang out on the Marble floor area to shower. “The Cools” shower on the wood floor area, but I don’t know about “The Losers” or “The Outcasts.”

As my daughter explained, the MOST popular of “The Populars” take the private shower stalls. “But how do people know who is popular and who isn’t?” I asked my daughter. “You just know,” was her answer.

Even sitting in rows, at assemblies for example or watching a sports team, there is a pecking order. “The Populars” sit in the top row, “The Cools” sit in the middle row, and “The Losers” sit in the bottom row. (Again, as for “The Outcasts,” I really don’t think they care, because they live in their own dream world, one that I would live in!)

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  • Angela

    Honestly I have a hard time believing that everyone can choose whatever group they want given that one group is for “losers.” It just doesn’t seem like a whole lot of kids would be angling to be a loser. I also doubt that the teachers are completely clueless as to this caste system. If it were my daughter I’d definitely have a talk about what life might be like for the losers and outcasts and try to cultivate some empathy.

    • Guest

      Yes and if you have to be mean to be in “the populars” but you can choose what group you want to be in then what happens if you choose to be in it but aren’t mean? Hot mess I tell you.

    • val97

      The teachers know. My son’s teacher told me all about the “mean girl” trend at his elementary school. She said at least one girl ends up in tears every day. I was so proud when she told me that my son is nice to all of the kids in his class, especially the girls who are picked on by other girls (even after she told me about how he likes to flip his eyelids inside out for attention and prefers to play with his pencils rather than complete his work).

    • Amber Starr

      Aw, your son sounds like an awesome kid! I hope that my daughter grows up to be “that kid” as well… I love hearing about kids who are actually KIND to other kids.

      And the eyelid trick IS pretty epic, so high-5 to him.

    • val97

      Honestly, I was a little shit as a kid, so I’m very happy to know that I didn’t pass that trait on.

    • drinkpepsi

      Are the loser kids the ones who dared to give your daughter a Rainbow Loom?

    • guest

      Do you have a Rebecca Eckler google alert set up? Seriously.

    • drinkpepsi

      Close. The Google Alert is for White Whine.

    • Amber Stacey Larsson

      Knowing what I know now, I would SO choose the loser group, and be a lot happier being my dorky self with my dorky friends.

    • SarahJesness

      Teachers know, they just can’t really do anything about it, especially in the higher grade levels where kids care less and less about what the teachers think of them. In American public schools, a lot of teachers have surprisingly little power to discipline students. You send them to the office, they get sent right back to class because it’s wroooong to deprive them of an education. You do anything that requires the parents to be notified, you get lots of backlash from said parents, and the higher-ups at the school don’t want to spend time dealing with it so they side with the parents. Lot of parents won’t take a teachers word for it when they hear their precious kid is misbehaving. So teachers just kind of give up. There’s no point.

    • pixie

      I’ve always known that there is little teachers can do about it, but I always assumed most had favourites in the “popular” group. Those kids were always picked for sports teams even when they weren’t particularly good and rarely got in trouble. Now I wonder if it had something to do with them not wanting to deal with parents asking why Suzy didn’t make the volleyball team when she’s the best player ever or why Tommy got a phone call home when he is such a perfect angel. The “popular” ( mean) kids had to learn their behaviour from somewhere.

      The teachers ended up cutting good players from teams and blaming other kids for misbehaving. It sucked as a kid, but I’ve developed a lot of empathy for teachers having to deal with mean kids and their horrid parents.

    • MERKIN

      NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO. Not every teacher is like this. I swear.

      I am a high school teacher and I damn sure do have favorites. My favorites are the kids who are patient and kind and encouraging to the kid who has trouble getting his words out in front of the class. My favorites are the kids who raise their hands and volunteer even if they know they might be wrong–and they assure each other that it’s ok if they are. My favorites are the kids who stop by in the middle of the day just to say “Hi,” even when I just saw them in class two hours before. My favorites are the kids who come in, state that there’s no way in hell they’re doing anything because they’ve had a terrible day, and they somehow pull through and get all their work done, even though they absolutely did not want to. My favorites are the kids who are quirky and funny and give every ounce of effort they have, regardless of their actual academic abilities.

      There are “popular” kids at my school, and most of them are not very nice people. They mostly care about what they look like, how many followers they have on Twitter and Instagram, and how many selfies they take. They make fun of other kids and think they’re better than other people. Interestingly enough, their parents are pretty similar (in grown up ways, obviously.) It is SO true that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.

      Sorry for the long rant. I really appreciate that you have empathy for teachers having to deal with horrid parents–it’s the worst part of my job. The incredible kids are the best part. :-)

    • rebecca eckler

      I have total empathy for teachers too! Bow down! I too believe that parents can often be the worst part of teaching :)

    • MERKIN

      Besides the fight I broke up today, parents are definitely the worst part of teaching. The bad parents, anyway. Good ones are awesome and make my job so much easier.

      Thanks for the bow down. :-)

    • pixie

      Oh yeah, I’m not denying there’s no favouritism, and I’m actually glad your favourites are the good kids.

      When I was in elementary school, though (well, from grades 5-8 really), it seemed like the teachers favoured the snotty, horrid “popular” kids. With age, understanding, and empathy I can see why it appeared that way now. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had teachers who favoured me because I was quiet, nice to others, and did my work, but I only began to realize that as I got older. It’s kind of hard to explain, but from the perspective of an 11 year old who sees her friends getting in trouble for defending themselves or being cut from a sports team even when they’re better than half the players, it gives a certain bias towards things.

      High school was much better, though, because it seemed like teachers were less easily swayed by the “popular” kids and their parents. :)

    • SarahJesness

      Eh, I never played sports so I never got the chance to see if anything like that was happening. But a number of the girls who picked on me did seem to have good relationships with some of the teachers. But I often had good relationships with the same teachers. But even with the obnoxious bullies, no one even said anything. Bad parents like that are mostly what it comes down to.

    • Ddaisy

      There was one time that my high school Bio teacher took me aside privately and said, “I know what they’re all saying about you, and I’m sorry you have to go through this. But I promise they’ll find something else to talk about, and you will get through it.” I almost burst into tears.

      Even though he couldn’t make them stop, it meant the world to me to know that he saw what was happening and had my back. That entire week had been a massive shitstorm for me, and to have an adult show support for me like that made such a big difference that I can’t even describe it.

      Aaaand now I’m sobbing again just remembering it.

  • arrow2010

    All-girls schools, another facet of white privilege.

    • guest

      Single-sex education has taken off in public schools in the U.S., especially in disadvantaged areas where parents are least satisfied with the options they already have. There are an estimated 500 programs in the country today, up from just a handful a decade ago. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112637/single-sex-education-and-school-choice

      Unless disadvantaged is the new white privilege…

    • Mystik Spiral

      Arrow’s a (very unsubtle) troll.

    • guest

      Ugh I know – I just can’t stand him/her whoever!

    • rebecca eckler

      Why? I wanted to send her to an all-girls school. I think boys and girls learn differently. I also just really liked the school. Plus, there are not ONLY white girls.

    • brebay

      People learn differently.

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    My kid is nine and I have never discussed this with her. I am not sure if there are even cliques in her school like this and now I feel bad because what if my kid is a loser :( hahaha

    • Crusty Socks

      As long as she’s not a Bieber fan she’s fine.

    • Alexandra

      Honestly this is interesting, I wasn’t popular in my schools (we moved around so I went to more than one) but in one private school I “tried” to be a part of the popular group. It was pretty pathetic, looking back, but I’d have NEVER told my parents of the type of hard time I had at the school. Just suggesting you may want to talk to your daughter about it (I’m not saying she’s a loser, but I was, and I never told anyone at home because I was so ashamed and hurt and embarrassed). Also, of course, no one spoke to me about it.

    • Alexandra

      oh, and this was 3rd grade – so I was 7, up through 5th grade when I found my “niche” (2 other friends).

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I am going to mention it today!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Ok I asked her. She gave me the crook eye and said MOM YOU KNOW WE HAVE ASSIGNED SEATS EVEN AT LUNCH. And then when I asked about playground politics she said ” mom everyone plays together because the more people you gave the better. The ONLY thing is when we play puppies not everyone can be a puppy so we HAVE to take turns” I think my kid would get eaten alive in Rebecca’s kid’s school

    • Ddaisy

      That’s so sweet! I want to go to your kid’s school!

    • Andrea

      My kid is a “band geek” and all around nerd and he’s proud of it. He has lots of like-minded friends and seems pretty happy and always busy with something.
      I wouldn’t change him FOR THE WORLD.

    • Mystik Spiral

      I was a band geek!

    • Andrea

      There are worse things that he could be spending time doing I think. He loves it, and it keeps him occupied in a worthwhile activity with like-minded kids. I’m happy for him.

    • Roberta

      to be a band geek is not to be part of a clique. It is part of a cult. You never leave (they always find you :P )

    • Andrea

      HA HA HA HA HA!!!! It’s probably true!

    • MaggieMay

      Truer words have never been written. My old band director called me last June to play with the band at graduation because his flutes were all graduating. He had to go thru 6 different former classmates to get my current cell phone number. Of course I said yes.

    • pixie

      Whenever I’m visiting home from university I go into my old high school and play with their music classes/band. I’ve played a couple concerts with them as well. One of them was during school hours for a pep rally so I put on a white shirt and black pants that resembled the uniform and hoped nobody realized I’d finished high school three years prior :P

    • MellyG

      I”m still a band geek. My high school was odd – i was also on dance team, and half the band was on the football team…..my high school cliques were almost flipped. The more activities you were in, and the more honors classes you took, seemed to determine popularity (our valedictorian was the prom queen). It seems odd now, but it didn’t then

    • Roberta

      Same, for us the music department took over about a third of the school. When they have that many students, you are bound to have them in sports, science, social sciences and the hundred other clubs and groups. Loved it.

    • MellyG

      yep – we had a band over 200 kids. However, our school was over 2000 (each class had 400-500 kids). I think that helped with cliques – there were FAR too many of us to really be cliquey, i graduated with people i’d never met. I also think that’s why the more groups you were, the more popular you were – just math, more people knew you!

    • Ddaisy

      My high school was that way too. AP classes, sports, and extracurricular clubs all seemed to strongly correlate with being rich, good-looking, and popular.

    • MellyG

      ah, none of us were rich, lol. (i’m not sure about good looking either, ha ha ha, but i’m sure we weren’t that bad)

    • LJ

      My little sister is going through this now. She is like, “everyone hates me, I’m not cool, my life is over”. I asked her if she thought I was cool and she was like HECK YES. I was like, “HA! Jokes on you. I was a big nerd in school and had no friends. But, I am fly as hell now and that’s all that matters!! So, what happens in middle/high school doesn’t determine the rest of your life, so please freaking study!”. She made -.- <— that face. I'm sure I got through to her.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      she can be pals with MY kid!

    • Bethany Ramos

      “fly as hell” made my day.

    • LJ
    • Bethany Ramos

      YESSSS

  • Lauren_Alli

    Is it wrong that I would want to encourage my daughter to forgo any cliques? From my experiences in school, and in knowing how much worse it is today, I don’t think any good can come from cliques. Although, I do agree with a previous commenter that people aren’t choosing to be outcasts or losers. I think it sounds more like these are the labels the “populars” are giving to people they don’t deem worthy to hang out with.

    • Crusty Socks

      To the extent the “clique” isn’t based on genuine friendship, maybe.

      But a lot of times, there are true bonding going on in cliques. I think we all can relate to our middle/high school days of being in them. Two of my fellow cliquers are still my two best friends.

    • Lauren_Alli

      Maybe I am just defining the word “clique” differently. To me, a group of friends is a group of friends. A clique is an exclusive group in which others are excluded or rejected.

    • Alexandra

      Yea, and that’s school in a nutshell.

    • rebecca eckler

      Exactly! Which is why I’m so happy to not be in school anymore!

    • Ddaisy

      Yes, my 4 best friends from junior high are still my best friends today (about a decade later). We were a group of 5 then and we’re the same group of 5 now. We were the “Outcasts” for sure, but we’re the only ones who are all still friends.

      One of us just got married in Sri Lanka (where she’s originally from). Her Sri Lankan relatives were pretty surprised to see 4 white Canadian girls fly all across the world to be there too–apparently that’s a rare sight at Sri Lankan weddings!–but to us, it was just, “Well, of course we’re here. We’ve been BFFs since we were 13.”

      Maybe being Outcasts had something to do with it–we were permanently bonded by the mutual experience of being tortured every day :P

    • rebecca eckler

      I think the outcasts are the best, quite frankly! They live in their own worlds and dream big and are unique! And the beauty is that I even wonder if they know they are seen as outcasts….I don’t think so! That’s why I love them!

    • Ddaisy

      Haha my friends and I definitely knew we were the outcasts. But we (usually) didn’t care. It wasn’t fun when we were actively getting picked on, but we did always know that we were unique and big dreamers, and that our friendship was the most likely to last :)

    • pixie

      I don’t think it’s wrong, really. I definitely wasn’t one of the popular kids, but I floated around a lot between groups of friends and was nice to everybody.
      I’m sure I was called a loser behind my back by the popular kids, since I apparently wasn’t good enough to hang out with (I also had shitty friends who ostracized me, but that’s another story), but by no means did I decide to be a “loser” or an “outcast”.

    • Lauren_Alli

      I feel like we came from the same place. I wasn’t in any clique. I had two best friends in high school and got along with almost everyone else. I’m sure though, that the “populars” thought I was a loser too. I was also ostracized by shitty friends. Yay for junior high -.-

    • JustaVisiting

      hey what happened to my comment?
      -Twelve Year Old Gal

  • pixie

    I doubt the teachers are as clueless as the kids seem to think they are. And it doesn’t really sound all that different from when I was in school, which really isn’t all that long ago, even if I did graduate from grade 8 a decade ago. While yes I went to a public school, there were definitely areas of the school/school yard where the “popular” kids hung out and it maybe wasn’t the best idea to stray too far into that area. Same with in the change rooms, you changed in clumps with your friends because it was weird (in our minds back then) to change with someone who wasn’t in the same circle of friends as you. I also have reservations about kids being able to choose their groups. There might be illusion of choice (like the illusion that the teachers are clueless), but I don’t really think any kid would choose to be a “loser” or an “outcast”.

    • Ddaisy

      I agree. I think the idea of “choice” indicates a certain privileged mindset of someone who’s in one of the top two tiers.

    • rebecca eckler

      Not sure about that. I have to say that maybe the kids “think” to themselves they maybe losers or outcasts, but they are also very ambitious confident girls. So they may not care!

  • Liz

    Trust me, teachers know about this. We watch it going on and we can usually pinpoint which kids are in which group by watching the interactions in class and who is willing to work with whom in groups. We try to step in and make sure there is no bullying, but if we get too involved it can make it worse for the kids not in the popular group. We can’t watch everything all the time. For example, if we insisted that other kids get to use a private shower, they would likely deny that they want to use the shower, because they know the response from other students wouldn’t be worth it. As teachers, we try to make sure all kids feel like they have a place to belong and that no one is left out, but we can’t force them to like each other or be nice to each other. The best we can hope for is polite and not mean to each other.

  • Emil

    sitting her wondering if it is too late to homeschool, this is depressing

  • Andrea

    I think this is the biggest piece of shit I have ever seen written in here. I don’t believe for ONE SECOND that anyone “chooses” to be in the loser group. And beyond that, while I’m sure there’s not a damn thing adults can do about it, there is NO WAY IN HELL I would send my kid to a school where that kind of shit goes on. And yes, I DO know that it happens everywhere, I just didn’t expect it to be so fucking blatant. I wonder what would happen if someone just decided that this was a load of bullshit and showered wherever the hell they wanted.
    Disgusting.

    • Mystik Spiral

      You have to understand that her “articles” are about 50% fiction/embellishment, 30% repetition of what she’s addressed previously in the “article”, 10% projection, 10% whining, and 100% PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEE!

    • Andrea

      Oh, I’m familiar with her work. The title threw me a little, it didn’t sound like one of hers, which I usually pass over. I’m gonna go ahead and add 35% white privilege whine to that mix by the way.
      Ugh.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Hahaha totally.

    • guest

      Everyone’s lives are different- her’s may be more privileged than others but those are her circumstances and her worries exist within that world. She can’t pretend she isn’t privileged and not have worries just because it may come off as a whine. If someone less privileged whines about circumstances in their life no one goes around saying there goes that white ‘unprivileged’ whine. Ugh- enough of the she sucks because she’s rich and white.

    • Andrea

      In fairness, Mystik and I only gave her 35% of white privilege whine. She sucks for other reasons too..that Mystik listed in mathematical precision! ;)

    • guest

      Lol okay fair enough! I just can’t stand whine olympics that’s all.

    • rebecca eckler

      This has nothing to do with privilege or not. It has to do with popularity at school. It happens at EVERY school, religious schools, co-ed schools, public schools etc. I don’t see where I’m whining. I’m just saying as it is.

    • Brainspace

      I think it’s bizarre that you’re so giddy your kid is in the “Cools” without AT ALL worrying about the kids who are losers and outcasts. You assume because a 10 year old said so that the kids REALLY get to choose their own group? Please.

      Also, you genuinely don’t believe the teachers have any idea what’s going on? You realize kids also don’t think their parents have any idea what’s happening in their lives, too, right? Of course the teachers know, but if you genuinely didn’t think they did, why would you waste time trying to find out what defines “cool” at your kid’s school instead of working on helping kids defined as “losers.” Seems like you were more interested in finding out how cool your kids was.

    • rebecca eckler

      I’m not giddy. I was appalled! And, please, my daughter has the sweetest soul. It wasn’t a waste of time. It was fascinating to me. (And is having a conversation with your daughter a ‘waste of time?’)

    • Brainspace

      Rebecca, relax. I didn’t drink the Eckler-hate Kool-Aid. Of course having a conversation with your kid isn’t a waste of time.

      However, I do find it ridiculous that a grown woman (who genuinely believes that the adults charged with educating and caring for kids have no idea of the social cliques in place) would just ignore the larger issue and write a blog post about it instead. Come on. The entire post smacks of “my daughter’s cool, thank God” to me for one key reason. If your daughter was part of the “losers,” would you be so quick to just say, “Goshdarnit those kids are organized with logistics! Wow!” The tone of the piece is off to me, that’s all. Maybe that was poor writing or word choice, maybe that’s the reality of how you feel, but either way, I find it hard to believe the article would read the same way if your daughter was a loser or outcast instead of a “cool.”

    • rebecca eckler

      I sure would! Sorry if the tone was off but if my daughter told me she was in the “loser” group, I would say it! But I do appreciate your point of view! And joining in the conversation!

    • MERKIN

      I still don’t get why any of the kids would choose to be in “The Losers….” ???

    • drinkpepsi

      Just curious…would a mom who bashes other moms via her blog because they dared to gift her daughter a – gasp – Rainbow Loom….would that mom qualify for the Popular/Mean girl group?

    • Jamie-tang

      I grew up in THE poorest county in the country, and our populars were determined by who the toughest fighters were and who was pregnant. I kid you not. It happens everywhere.

    • guest

      So essentially like every other article published by bloggers on any blogging site- or is this just exclusive to Rebecca whom the majority of the folks on here already form an opinion about prior to even getting past the byline.

    • Andrea

      The opinion has been based on at least two years of her crap. I didn’t form it yesterday you know…

      Or.. Rebbeca is that you?? LOL, you don’t normally participate in the discussion session but I have been known to get enough under your skin to come out from under your privileged rock! LOL

    • guest

      Nope not Rebecca- just something that I’ve noticed, bloggers tend to say that because they are bloggers their blogs are heavily influenced by their own opinion, etc etc. Also many blogging sites repeat the same material OVER and over again even the bloggers that wrote it the first time around. Example: Eve and her Barbie articles- 3 times, same blog, same opinion=repetition. That’s all.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      RIGHT? EVE SUCKS

    • guest

      Ugh Eve not at all – that’s not what my intention was, it was an example using one of the most loved bloggers on the site (which you are)… But just because I did have a different opinion than you doesn’t mean that YOU suck!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I am teasing you. haha

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Um, to be fair, all of my articles are 100% PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEE

    • Mystik Spiral

      But you’re funny, and your articles are entertaining, not big piles of grammatically incorrect shit.

    • Andrea

      What Mystik said.

      Damn we are in sync today!

    • rebecca eckler

      This article had nothing to do with ME! xo ME

    • drinkpepsi

      I take issue with your math.

      9% commas
      23% humble bragging
      41% shock factor
      27% white whine

    • rebecca eckler

      Wow Stalker Drink Pepsi, you sure do have A LOT of spare time on your hands. Continue following my every move. You sure have the time! Stalker creep!

    • drinkpepsi

      41% shock factor

    • Jamie-tang

      I think we’ve found the Populars of Mommyish!

      JK.

      Seriously though, most blog writers do write about their lives. Just a thought. Her subject matter and style aren’t my most favoritest, but (not any one of you in particular) I have noticed so much negativity directed towards her.

      Excuse me, I have to go back to the wood floor area.

    • rebecca eckler

      Andrea, this is the truth. This is what my daughter told me. I’m not sure why you think it’s so “shitty” when it’s reality.

    • Andrea

      Oh I have no doubts that it is the truth. At least at that school. And how she sees it anyways.
      It is still a shitty situation.

    • Rebecca eckler

      Agreed!

    • Rachel Sea

      What your daughter told you was completely subjective. It might be a load of bollocks, it might seem true to her and still be vastly off from reality, you can’t know.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I think it’s true. It’s sad they’re so young, but we had this in middle school and high school. Not so extreme perhaps, but I definitely could have drawn a map and labeled lunch tables jock, stoners, cheerleaders, goofballs, drama club in high school. Hell, I could probably still draw that map. Unlike the movies though, the record didn’t scratch and everyone stop and stare if you moved tables or talked to someone else. But this exists, I have no doubt.

    • brebay

      Your daughter doesn’t know how the groups form, because no one does. It’s much more subtle and informal than that. You were expecting her to have it all figured out and explain it all to you and she didn’t want to disappoint you, because she loves you, and wanted to give you what you wanted. So she tried her best, made some educated guesses and made the rest up. Give the kid a break. She had your undivided attention and wanted to hold it as long as she could.

    • SarahJesness

      Yeah, I kind of doubt a clique system allows kids to choose which one to be a part of, especially since she apparently established that being popular required acting a certain way all of the time. Meaning that being a member of the other groups also requires certain behavior.

    • Williwaw

      There was snobbishness and bullying in my schools (I was a major target two horrible years), but not on this scale and not so young. Does no one teach their child empathy anymore?

    • rebecca eckler

      Oh, it’s taught all the time. It just doesn’t seem to STICK!

    • drinkpepsi

      You think you teach your daughter empathy?

      So when she had a birthday and received over 20 gifts and was upset because some were duplicates – you taught her empathy?

      You taught her to be grateful for the gifts she did receive (because some kids have very little)?

      You taught her that it’s the thought that counts?

      Nope. You whined right along with her and even accused the other moms of REGIFTING – gasp!!

      You bashed them online for committing the horrible crime of giving your daughter one of the hottest new toys.

      Did you even think about giving the Looms to charity?

      Nope. Not until readers suggested it.

      No wonder the empathy lessons don’t seem to stick…

    • guest

      Ugh – you would have so much more validity if you didn’t have an obvious and creepy obsession with Rebecca… why do you hate her so much it’s the oddest thing.

    • drinkpepsi

      The woman is trying to convince us that she teaches empathy to her kid “all the time” but it just doesn’t stick.

      Then she writes an article like the Rainbow Loom one (or really, any of her pieces) and you see just what a terrible parent she truly is.

      Am I supposed to like this author? How could anyone, seeing how she chooses to parent her kid (who no doubt goes on to bully her classmates in much the same way…).

    • Rebecca Eckler

      DO NOT EVER say to me fucking Drinkpepsi that my daughter is a bully! Fuck you you batty piece of shit. I was talking about her school, and how teachers teach the girls empathy all the time, as do the mothers of the school, but it doesn’t stick. I really think you need to go to AA again. Yes, I know who you are. GET HELP! Also, bitterness is not an attractive quality. So FUCK OFF!!!

    • drinkpepsi

      You’re right. You seem like a totally calm, rational woman who no doubt teaches her child to treat others with respect.

    • MERKIN

      You don’t have to “like” this author. But honestly, writing one comment about her past posts in order to make the point that you think she is entitled, a hypocrite, etc. is acceptable. Writing several comments on ONE story is borderline obsessive. It’s like you really are stalking her.

    • drinkpepsi

      …And how many comments have you posted on this one story, Merkin?

    • MERKIN

      Several, which is what happens when you are having conversations with people. However, my comments aren’t all the same thing, just reworded, like yours are.

    • MERKIN

      BTW– I got my cheap shot on Rebecca Eckler earlier in the article, when I said that it was typical Eckler because she had to talk about how much money she had. I left it at that.

    • MERKIN

      BTW– how do you know her daughter bullies her classmates? That’s quite a stretch to make. Your criticism would be so much more valid if you didn’t ruin it by making false claims.

    • MERKIN

      I’m sorry…I’m not a fan of Rebecca’s articles at all, but this is really strange. I haven’t even scrolled all the way to the bottom of the comments and you’ve already posted at least three separate times citing past posts of hers in order to bash her. It’s just creepy at this point.

  • AP

    “The Populars” hang out on the Marble
    floor area to shower. “The Cools” shower on the wood floor area”

    You should probably reconsider how your tuition money is being spent, if the school’s putting pricey, slippery marble and pricey, not-waterproof wood floors in the showers.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      the future litagaters of tomorrow hang out on the marble

    • MERKIN

      it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t some underhanded emphasis on how much money is involved…

  • Kay_Sue

    I really, really have trouble accepting that elementary/middle schoolers are this organized about social interaction. Maybe these are prodigies, but it seems a little far-fetched to me…

    • rebecca eckler

      It’s not. A ten year old now, is like a 12 year old a decade ago. They are growing up way faster these days!

    • Kay_Sue

      We didn’t do this at 14, 15, 16, 17, 18…and that was not too terribly long ago…not to mention I too have tweens around, including a 12 year old that just started middle school.

      I’m sorry, Rebecca, but I don’t buy this one in the slightest. Maybe you’re in a different world (not to mention a different country) but this sounds like Rush Week when I was in college, and even then, it didn’t mean crap on the day to day.

    • guest

      Kay_Sue it’s the truth – it starts even earlier in some places. I have a girlfriend that does a before and after school program and her kids are 6 that she’s in charge of, and this is happening. It happens ALL the time, all across the board. Read some of the above comments – teachers know that this happening too.

    • Kay_Sue

      So you are telling me, all of the kids…in an entire school…get together, create names for groups, decide which group they are going to be in during the first week, and that’s that?

      That’s the only part I’m taking issue with. We had “cliques” in high school and my stepdaughters do in middle and late elementary school. We had certain places that certain people hung out. That happens. Even the “mean girls” part I can buy.

      But it’s not a carefully orchestrated charade. It’s what happens when people makes friends, wind up in the same social circles, have parents that know each other, have similar value systems (some of which are shitty), take the same classes, participate in the same extracurriculars, etc, etc. It’s a natural byproduct of being human…not some social scheme kids are teaming up on. That, my friends, is the part I call complete and total bullshit on.

    • guest

      There’s just no winning with you is there? You got it – tween’s aren’t schematic enough to do something like this. You are blessed if your tweens aren’t brats, but man some of the tweens I’ve come across are harsher and ruder than some adults I’ve come across in my life! Mean girls exist and I am pretty sure it’s not an entire school, it’s often by grades. I recall it was at least for myself. There’s not a first week homecoming circle jerk it’s the way some early interactions exist.

    • Kay_Sue

      I’m pretty sure I said mean girls exist. That’s not the part I’m calling bullshit on.

      And there’s been multiple posts on this site where I’ve had my point of view changed, so I am honestly not sure what you mean by there’s just no winning? This part of the post I don’t buy. Doesn’t mean that you have to agree with me, guest. It means that based on my experience–which spans my own, my sisters, my stepchildren, and now starting all over with my sons–this part of Rebecca’s piece does not ring true and does, indeed, induce me to roll my eyes a bit and wonder if she’s seen the Breakfast Club lately.

    • guest

      Fair enough- doesn’t ring true to you, rings true to me and we will keep it at that. I was saying earlier that based on MY own experiences as well (see above where I said friend with 6 year olds, and not limited to just that) is why I believe it! My experiences resonate with those that Rebecca wrote about, that’s all I was saying! Will you believe someone else who isn’t Rebecca- like I don’t really understand- just because you haven’t experienced it it’s not true? Please help me understand-I don’t mean to be rude, and apologize if I am coming off that way, I am just reiterating that Rebecca’s not the only one who has heard about these social interactions that seem so difficult to grasp.

    • Kay_Sue

      Honestly? No. I have no idea whether you are Rebecca or not. This is the internet. Without solid proof, I don’t give any personal anecdote absolute credence, and to a certain extent, that includes my own.

      I’m not on the “hate Eckler” brigade, so please understand–that she authored this piece has absolutely zero impact on my disbelief of this. Some of her pieces are silly. Some don’t resonate with me. Some don’t seem real. Some of them do resonate, and do seem quite relatable to me. I comment based on my own personal take on the piece that’s being presented, not based on who claims authorship of it. Sometimes I disagree with Maria or Bethany or Eve or Megan or Francis or any of the other regular contributors–and I’m not hesitant to voice that disagreement, to listen to responses and to either alter or reaffirm my view on it based on others responses.

      I don’t know why changing my mind on this seems important to you? The social interactions aren’t difficult to grasp per se. I grasp them fine–I just don’t believe that they are as structured as Ms. Eckler says. If you’ve experienced them, I’m sorry you had to–it seems like a completely shitty system that lacks a lot of empathy, and one that I am quite glad we seem to have avoided. Remember, one internet stranger’s disbelief does not negate your personal narrative. It’s always yours.

    • guest

      Good Lord that is exactly what I was trying to say – I wasn’t trying to convince you, I just didn’t want to be regarded a liar. My first sentence of the reply said ‘Fair enough- doesn’t ring true to you, rings true to me and we will keep it at that.’ Please correct me if I am wrong!

    • Kay_Sue

      ;)

    • Ddaisy

      For what it’s worth from someone who’s not posting as a “guest,” this exact social structure was definitely in play in my junior high. No, the cliques weren’t named and the rules weren’t written, but they didn’t have to be–they were so set in stone that everyone just *knew.* I’m sure it doesn’t happen like that at all schools, but I can vouch that it does happen in some places, and at that age.

      (It actually went away when I got to high school, because there were 3 times as many kids and it was no longer possible to be so structured.)

    • Kay_Sue

      That’s precisely my point though. The cliques, yes. Everyone understands and knows. I experienced those too.

      But it’s not a “you pick this clique, I pick that clique” complete with names and an “acceptance week”. It’s a natural progression of people that have similar activities, interests, value systems, home lives, etc. It happens, but it’s not some scheme kids come up with. Even in high school, where everything was incredibly fluid and there weren’t really “popular” cliques (there were popular folks within cliques) and people freely floated between different groups, there were still places were people hung out, and it was clear that they were a group. It’s not the existence I’m not buying. They exist–that’s indisputable.

    • Ddaisy

      Ah, okay, I misunderstood. I thought it was the strict structure you didn’t believe, but it’s the “meta-discussion,” if you will, of the cliques?

      At my school, it wasn’t a scheme that was deliberately planned, but I wouldn’t call it a natural progression either.

      There was almost zero overlap between cliques, even between girls who would’ve otherwise probably made good friends (similar personalities, activities, etc.) It just wasn’t done.

  • candyvines

    Red Heather is really giving David Byrne a run for his money in that photo.

  • K.

    Uh, I think you’re reading a bit much into this.

    Your daughter is 10? This is 10-year-olds enacting what they *think* popular means based on media–essentially, children mimicking how they think older teens behave.

    And second, if it IS the case, then why the fuck are you–a parent–standing there watching it like it’s some weird sociological experiment? This isn’t HS–you and the school are still capable of changing the culture. And you should.

  • LJ

    Reading the description of all this made me feel like I was reading one of those R.L. Stine tween horror/dramas. Where Tiffany (who is the queen of the Populars) has her cousin, Darcy, come live with them because some “terrible secret accident” happened to Darcy’s parents and everyone thinks Darcy did it! (so she is obviously an Outcast) Mysterious murders start happening in the town and everyone thinks Darcy is doing it, even the apparently tween thinking adults in the town! Dun dun duuuuuuun. Plot Twist: It is Tiffany’s boyfriend who is doing all the killing. He used to be in love with Darcy and she broke his heart! So he switched towns, worked his way up from Outcast to Popular- Jock and plotted his revenge!!!!.

    I may or may not have read a lot of those in my middle school days…..Don’t let this happen to your daughter, Rebecca!

    • SarahJesness

      I think it would work better if the boyfriend worked his way up from being a Loser to Popular. It would imply a much stronger social pressure element. We can assume that Losers are lower than Outcasts, so when he got rejected by Darcy, he assumed it was because she didn’t like his low status.

  • Jem

    I’m typically not a huge fan of most of this author’s work, but it’s getting to the point that people see her name on the top and then go straight to the comments to dump on her.

    This article was actually pretty good. It was. It is really shitty that that is how it is, but that’s how things were when I was little! I’m more saddened that nothing has changed. And if it sounds far fetched to you, has a 10 year old ever told you a far fetched story? Because I have DEFINITELY heard ridiculous tales from children, especially that age.

    The article was written with a humorous spin on something that is crappy to deal with but the best part of this article is that she is TALKING to her daughter about this! Talking to your kids! It’s the best! how else will you know what is going on in their lives?

  • brebay

    Sounds like she’s a normal, insecure kid who has no idea how it works, and when pressed for hard answers, she made up a formalized system because you really wanted her to know the answer, and she just didn’t.

  • Jamie-tang

    Just…ugh. Who would say, “Oh, I wanna be in the loser group!”?…..
    Exactly.

    • Alex Lee

      I would.

      I would work to make the loser group the most-popular, most-cool group, usurping power from those already established.

      Because I grew up with “Revenge of the Nerds”.

  • Amber Stacey Larsson

    I’ve always found the term “popular” to be a weird one, because it makes it sound like more people in total liking you, when in reality “outranking” other kids does not mean more people like you. Only popular kids like the popular kids, and only the losers or whatever like the losers. All the kids probably end up with the same amount of friends/people liking them, but they are just ranked differently and allotted different access to resources based on this pecking order. If popular kids have to be mean then they are probably also mean to each other, so bullying probably still happens to them too. I think when they say “popular” kids just mean “intimidating, and kind of a jerk”.

    • SarahJesness

      Yep. It’s perceived popularity versus actual popularity. The kind where the trend-following bitchy kids are “popular” has more to do with how many people know who they are (usually because they’re so mean to everyone, and people typically remember their bullies) and sometimes because their aggressiveness/sucking up puts them in prominent positions in the school. (being popular with teachers, being on student council, or whatever)

  • aCongaLine

    I stopped reading when I got to the line about how the teachers know nothing about it. Yep, they do. Teachers are *surprisingly* smart when it comes to the social landscape of their school.

  • Williwaw

    Trust me, the “losers” are not in that group by choice, and possibly the “outcasts” don’t want to be in their group either. It sounds like the two groups everyone wants to be in are “populars” and “cools”, and if my experience of growing up is any indication, both those groups probably do most of the school’s bullying. Maybe some parents/teachers (most of whom probably do know what is going on, and some of whom probably have enough empathy to care) should talk with the girls about treating each other with a little human decency and compassion. Yes, kids go through stages where they are difficult (I recall being pretty obnoxious to my parents at 14), but that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and just let them act like assholes.

  • Jillian

    Ugh this kind of crap just reminds of how grateful I am to be an adult now. I am sure for most people in a lot of past generations these classification and cliques have and always will exist to some degree but it sounds awful to me. You couldn’t pay me enough money in the world to go back in time to being a young kid or teen in school.

  • Sam Inoue

    My niece, more like my daughter, is one of the “popular” kids. She says it is because she is a white kid in school with all Japanese kids. I find it exhausting, the kids all wanna come over all the time and they try to spend every minute together. I miss having time to talk to her recently. I am glad she isn’t a mean girl though. She is a totally interesting kid, I hate that she is letting other kids influence her this much. Kids can be mean.

  • ChickenKira

    I went to a private all girls school and I honestly couldn’t keep track of groups like that, there were just too many of us. There were girls I graduated with in year 12 who, when their name was called out since graduation I thought “Huh, I thought they changed schools in year 9 or something”.

    I don’t know what me and my friends were. We were a group of girls who were friends. There were some girls who were a bit mean, but I wouldn’t give them ‘popularity’ ranks. There was a very clear group of kids that were really into drama? Seriously there was something like 30 different friendship groups, and most of those groups inter-mingled – my group used to also hang out with “Ivana and her friends” and “Sabina and her friends” and “Monica and her friends” The person ___ and their friends changed depending on who you asked, it was usually the name of the person you were closest too.

    But what I am trying to say here is, your daughter is 10, there is a very good chance that most of this is in her head (or on TV, in a book she has read or a movie) because real life isn’t that clear cut. It’s just too difficult and impractical.

    • SarahJesness

      Pretty good chance that’s the case. Lots of kid shows/movies/books taking place in schools are usually in middle and high schools, where cliques tend to be stronger. But even then, the works in question usually exaggerate it some. So a lot of kids think that’s what school is supposed to be like, and they either imagine a strong clique system that isn’t there or attempt to create/enforce one.

    • Ddaisy

      I think the size of the school makes a big difference. My junior high had precisely 5 female cliques, and I could still tell you exactly who was in which one. Because there were only about 40 girls in our grade altogether. If we’d had 30 different friend groups, we would’ve had a lot of loners.

      By contrast, there were about 150 girls in each grade at my high school, and then it was much more like you described: lots of overlap, no clear ranking system.

  • SarahJesness

    Kind of weird/interesting how rich, bitchy “mean girl” type girls get labelled popular, when that’s not usually the actual case. I’m reminded of a book I read that discussed high school popularity and how it affected success in life after school. The author made an important distinction between two kinds of popularity: there is “perceived” popularity, which is usually what the mean girls are. They’re popular in the sense that everyone knows who they are. Then there is “actual” popularity, which means lots of people like them and define them as a friend.

    On that note, I think it’s really weird that this school apparently has four established cliques and kids choose which ones they want to be in. I’ve never heard of that, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Still, who would choose to be in the “loser” group, except MAYBE a tiny handful of nonconformists who are too nonconformist to join the “outcast” group? I rather doubt it’s much of a choice, especially since you establish that being “popular” requires one to always act a certain way.

  • Ddaisy

    Oh, my junior high had the exact same system, except that it was totally unspoken. But if we HAD ever labelled it, those would have been our labels. (I was in the Outcasts, yay!) We had the exact same four cliques. But we also had a bonus group, the Bad Girls. They were the slutty ones who smoked behind Safeway on our lunch break. They didn’t really fit on the otherwise-one-dimensional popularity spectrum, though. They were a dimension unto themselves.

    And yes, the Populars were almost all really mean, but the Cools were super-nice and could talk to anybody. And yes, the Populars had a place in the changeroom, a lunch table, a spot on the bleachers. In fact, pretty much everything in this article, I just nodded, and said, “Yes. Yep. That too.” It’s spooky.

    Nowadays, I’m at least semi-friends with at least one girl from each of the other cliques, but not the Populars. They are all still condescending bitches. In fact, when I got to university, one of the Populars was taking the same major as me, and suddenly we were in the same peer group. (It’s a small department at a small university.) And yet she still treated me like dirt on her shoe and I still tried to avoid ever coming within the scope of her Sauron-like Gaze of Doom. I don’t think we ever both showed up at the same social event.

  • AP

    My college’s student union had this big food-court type space that was divided into four sections.. There was one spot full of , Abercrombie-clad people were constantly screaming, being generally obnoxious and immature, and staring. We were like, “Why are there always high-schoolers hanging out here?”

    Senior year, I was in class with a girl who informed me that that part of the union had been staked out as the “Greek section,” and the kids who were “Greek” got angry and tried to push out any other people who dared to sit there.

    The school had 16,000 undergrads, a large law school, and a ton of graduate students, staff, and faculty, none of whom had any reason to care about Greek life. But still, they felt good about themselves staring at oblivious law students and professors who dared eat their lunch in the “cool kid’s spot.”

    Joke was on them- everyone thought Greek life was for losers.