Wednesday, November 10, 2004

New Kids On The Block

In my son's class this year, for some reason, there are a lot of new kids. There are kids from the other side of Boston who've moved from one suburb to this suburb. There are kids who are here for a year from France thanks to a parent's job transfer and speak almost NO English. There are kids from Korea and China who really speak ZERO English.

And there is another wave that these new kids are crashing on -- the "gang" feeling of my kid's friends who have now been together for Kindergarden, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, now Fourth Grade, not to mention all the after-school atheletics which build friendships, Soccer, Little League, Hockey and then throw in the Boy Scouts, the summer camps, the community stuff, all creating a very solid, bonded, tight group of kids in this town.

And I'm seeing something I hate. I'm seeing them be really rather exclusive and rude to the newcomers. This hits me hard because I was "the new girl" in third grade and it was rough as hell.

After our divorce, we got good counseling about trying NOT to move into a new town, a new house, a new life since this would only make it that much harder on our son. My ex and I both followed this good advice and stayed in this town, me staying at the same address and him moving about 5 minutes away -- good for our kid, probably in some ways less good for us. It's an expensive town. It's a very MARRIED town. It's hard to be divorced here. It would be a lot more fun for my ex and me to move somewhere else, as well as a lot easier financially.

The irony of the whole thing is that staying put has been very helpful for my kid, but now he's one of the "oldtimers" clique at school who don't cotton to letting the new kids in! This drives me nuts on one level, and on another, I see this rootedness is important for him as he's gone through our separation and divorce over the past few years.

Then this morning, I was thinking about this notion vis-a-vis the blogosphere. There are blogger pioneers here who expect to be given their due for being here a long time. It makes it hard for new bloggers to get into the mix. You see it online, as little spats erupt, but you see it even more so at conferences. It's ironic for me too, that I'm a bit of an oldtimer now. I was the "new girl" about 2 years ago around here.

I often get asked to mention a new blogger's blog or put them in my blogroll. Sometimes I drop the ball, not because I want to exclude someone, but more because I just get so damned busy. Also, if you have a big bunch of friends, it is hard to add another NEW big bunch of friends to your life. It's terrible to say, but it's true.

Still, I give my son bloody hell about being a snob and excluding new kids at school from events, parties, all social gatherings. I hate that kind of thing and felt the sting of it when I was 10 years old.

Where am I going with all of this? I'm not sure. When it comes to these kinds of situations, I don't know how to hit the right balance honestly, but I think being aware of it is the place to start. And I always vote for going up to a new person and saying, "Hi, how're ya doing?" in a friendly way, no matter who you are and how long you've been here.