Peyton drew this at 5 or 6. We're beekeepers, one of our businesses
This article is a personal story, which originates in Jon Malcolm’s totally epic PM thread that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of by invitation, which includes about 25 pretty neat people, each with different talents and personalities, but each equally human real people who bleed when pricked, and laugh when they hear something funny.
I’m 42, for those who don’t know. I have four great kids. Branigan, 7, is my youngest daughter, Zoe my oldest at 12 going on 15. My boys (Peyton and Harrison/Harry) are ten, and twins, though not identical in any way, lol.
I’ll tell you more about me another day, if you’re interested. But today is about Peyton.
Peyton has been kind of angry this year. Short tempered. I had an inkling as to why, but I let it ride to see where it might go. I do that a lot, let things ride, because I’ve found that most things tend to work themselves out with time, but not all things. Time at least works to raise the real problems from the minor ones, in my opinion.
Tonight I received an email from Peyton’s teacher, telling me he hadn’t turned in his spelling work for about a month. Now big picture, that’s not as dire as it sounds. For one thing, he’s the kind of kid who can do his school work measured in minutes, not hours. He’s very organized, and school is fairly easy for him, even his, which is a difficult school academically. And for another, that's just one area of seven or eight, so it's not an all inclusive scholastic picture.
I decided it was time to talk with Peyton, father to son, to see what was going on. And I’d like to share what I shared with him, because I think it’s useful food for thought for a lot of kids/teenagers, and it might help some of you help someone else someday, or even re think your own place in the world.
Peyton is in a school of about 300 kids, k-8. Each class has less than 30 kids. Roughly half are boys, the other half girls. So his 5th grade class has 15 boys.
For many years, all of the boys, and even some of the girls, would be invited to birthday parties, etc. Now, each kid tends to invite just a few, 5 or 6, though a few still have larger parties.
Peyton told me tonight that he only has, really, three guy friends, and that he wishes he had more, that he used to have more, and that he was feeling bad about himself in large part because he has so few friends.
Here’s what I explained to Peyton:
When you are 4, you are nearly indiscernible from other 4 year olds, boys or girls, aside from dress. As you age, you develop a distinct personality. You decide what you like, and don’t like. Foods, movies, games, people, all of it. And if your environment remains unchanged, your friendships will narrow with your developing and discerning personality. By the time most of us are ready to move on to (Middle School, High School in his case) the next environment, we’ve developed quite distinct personalities.
When Peyton moves from 15 boys his age, and 3 friends (or 20%) to High School, the number of boys his age will increase to 200 (of a class of 400, of a school of 1600+). If his ratio of friends were to remain the same, he’ll have 40 friends.
And by the time he goes off to college? And then enters the unlimited realm of larger society?
Although really, somewhere around a dozen, most of us max out in terms of good friends, we haven't time or interest in a whole lot more than that.
The main point is obvious, I hope. As you grow, you become less a blob, and more a distinct person. And this will indeed cost you some wider audience. But you’ll never be short of friends, because your pool of potential friends never is as small as it is that day before you leave elementary school. From there it only grows larger, forever.
Think of life like an hourglass, with the tiniest part, the middle, that last year in elementary school, so far as your pool of peers is concerned, and your grain of sand in it.
Make good choices, and treat people the way you would like to be treated. But be yourself. It’s a big enough world for everyone to be unique and distinct, and yet have plenty of company.
Ok, now back to the game. I have another article to write having nothing to do with my real life. Thanks for letting me share.
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