So said Homer Simpson, and of course no one really believes that. I know that even though it seems very important at the time, being popular doesn't really matter in the long run. We've heard plenty of successful people and beautiful people tell how they were excluded and unpopular at school.
So why is that I have been able to hold my children down while they were screaming so that they can receive the medical attention they need without my emotions overriding my rational understanding of the fact that they were not in harm's way, even if they were genuinely terrified, however, my heart broke when my eldest said "I wasn't sitting with anyone."?
Last night he attended a pizza and pyjama night at school.* It ended in tragedy, for which I have to take some of the responsibility. The down side of having your kids in bed by 7:30pm (reading til 8 now) is that they don't handle late nights well. He was utterly exhausted when I picked him up at 9pm and tears were flooding down his cheeks. He had lost his Ben 10 watch which he had carefully made from paper during the afternoon, and his best friend had moved away from him half way through the night. He hadn't enjoyed the movies (people had been trying to kill each other apparently, but I don't know how much I trust his reports). And when I asked him who he was sitting next to after his friend moved away, he sobbed "I wasn't sitting next to anyone."
It was almost as bad as waiting for Charlie to come out of surgery, and worse than leaving him in the operating theatre. Apparently no amount of logic can override my deep seated fear of not being liked, and my projection of that fear onto my children. This has rather taken me by surprise. I didn't think that the "popularity is not important" thing was something I only paid lip service to.
I can only hope that I managed to keep my voice light and not pass on my neurosis. Today he is feeling better about the whole thing - it was the lack of sleep talking mostly. I knew that at the time, but it didn't stop that gut wrenching agony of rejection.
* The teachers of the school volunteer to look after all of the currently attending children as well as all of their siblings over the age of 3 on a Saturday night from 5 - 9pm. The proceeds go to the P&C. They do this twice a year. Whatever else I may feel about the principal, her dedication cannot be questioned.