The Prince of Popularity

So, I totally brag on the girlchild, because she is so good and productive and so unlike me that I am in constant amazement that she came out of my vagina.

I wrote this about her on Facebook today:

The Tills absolutely slays me sometimes.

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 In addition to this All-Love-Zentangle (I had to look it up, too) masterpiece, it is Friday afternoon and we can’t go get pizza until she finishes her homework. On Friday. I still can’t believe people do that.

You are probably thinking I’m an amazing parent, but I had nothing to do with it. She just came out this way.

I think I want to be her when I grow up.

But I have to give the boy his propers, too, because he is really coming into his own in the sarcasm department. I guess he amazes me slightly less because he IS me. It seems more natural that he is mine. I look at him, and I see me. He is the Universe’s mirror, held up to me, wherein I see my best and my worst.

So, the other day, we are in the car on the way to karate and he informs me that he was voted “prince” of his classroom. Trying to get information out of a 13-year-old boy is like pulling teeth, but it is apparently like a homecoming court of sorts. They vote within the homeroom, then those four kids are voted upon by the four-class team, and then the kids vote on the kids who win their team and they become Prince of 7th Grade or whatever.

Back it up a minute here.

You have to understand that I looked like this in 8th grade. It was not much of an improvement over 7th, needless to say. (I couldn’t find my 7th grade school picture.)

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Basically, all I heard was, “Hey, Mom. I got voted for this thing that you never would have been voted for in a million years.” In 7th grade, I think I truly had maybe three friends. Tops. I could not have garnered 9 votes to win a classroom vote in a million years. So, the truth actually comes out that the kids just raised their hands and said “I want to be on the ballot.” Maybe my son is not me. I never would have done that in 7th grade. In 7th grade, I was just trying to disappear.

This piqued my interest. I start questioning my son: “Why do you want to be Prince? Is there a girl you like that is running for Princess?” (I pretty much almost throw up in my mouth even saying all this, because the whole conversation, in my head, I am thinking “FUCK popular people and this princess shit.”)

I don’t say that to my son. I just say, who got voted in? Were they nice people? He says they were “popular.” [Bile rises.] Because, I say, sometimes the people who were popular when I was in 7th grade weren’t really nice. He said, “Well, some of them aren’t.”

So, we have this whole conversation about being popular for different reasons, and that some people seem popular, but they aren’t really, they are just confident, and they step on others and put down others to make themselves look better. And then there are other people who are popular for a good reason: Because they are truly kind souls and they treat everyone nicely.

“I want you to be the latter,” I say. I want you to look back on your time in middle school and know that you were kind to other people. All the other people. Because the ones who weren’t? My experience is that they peaked early and they weren’t too well liked in high school, and God only knows what happened to them after that. We continued to have this Popularity conversation all the way to karate.

Sidenote: He did not win his team Princedom. I know you were all on the edge of your seat.

I kind of forgot about the conversation, actually. But then we are at dinner eating pizza. There is a tv on, and they are playing ESPN. It is a documentary about the African American athletes who raised their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics. It was closed captioned, but i had recently read about the white Australian who won Silver and was up on the podium at the same time. It is a moving story.

Tiller asked me to explain what the big deal was, and I got into ’68 and civil rights, and how this was not a protest, but activism for human rights, and I tried to explain how brave and moving it was for them to do this, and for the white Australian, also, to join them in wearing the human rights badge with them.

Y’all, I’m a weepy emotional mess when I try to explain complex historical stuff. So, I get a little teary, and then we are all looking at the screen, and they show a photo of the three men together in their, probably 50s or so? And then, then they show a casket being carried, and two Americans are the pallbearers in the foreground. And I realize that the two Americans were asked to be pallbearers for this Australian’s funeral, and well, my eyes welled up and tears rolled down my face at the beauty of that.

Tiller: “Mama, why are you crying?”

I am too choked up to speak.

Rollie: “Because she’s emotional.”

But he says it like men say it. The “she’s a woman, she’s emotional, she’s hysterical.” He says it in a way that brings me up quick, and pisses me off.

Me: “Rollie, I am weepy, because it is beautiful, and I am not afraid to cry, or show emotion. Tiller, I am crying, because that image of those men makes me proud to be a human.”

And Rollie says, “I thought popularity made people proud to be a human.”

I stare at him, and then I am flooded with anger and righteous indignation.

And we stare at each other, and his eyes are challenging me.

And then he starts giggling. And I start laughing a true and deep belly laugh.

Because that folks, is how you get your mama real good.

I love him, too. Just for different reasons than I love Tiller.

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  2 comments for “The Prince of Popularity

  1. joel
    September 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I’m liking Tiller’s drawing. The perspective and the shapes,in the right hand register, makes it seem as if your looking down into an infinite canyon.

  2. October 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Joel!

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