Most children who are cool at school become losers as adults. Most children who are losers at school become successful and cool as adults. How can I have a child who is both cool at school and cool as an adult and successful at school and after school. In other words, how can we eat the cake and keep the cake at the same time? - Urban Mumble
Let me tell you a story. There was this guy I knew at school. I don’t like labels but if I said the word ‘nerd’ and you forced yourself to conjure up all the stereotypes you could pull from the darkest recesses of your mind, the person you would be imagining would still be a bit cooler than this lad. My friends were an evolved bunch, he was never mocked or excluded but there was definitely the sense that he was on the fringes of things. Even at the time I thought, he’s gonna show us all; he’s gonna use that massive, misunderstood brain and discover some way to make gold nuggets out of belly button fluff and have billions and laugh at us all from his yacht in Aruba. From what I pick up from his obscure conspiracy theories newsletter, this is not the case. I tell you this story to let you know that despite the truth in your question, one thing is universal about both high school and parenting – there are no guarantees.
Don’t let this frighten you too much because the dynamic you describe can sometimes be a ‘The Dress’ style optical illusion. That guy that had rock star status at seventeen is now working in a high street chemist and however respectable and beneficial to society that is, it’s still a fall down the ladder in comparison. If you were sidelined at the school gates a pair of heels and some decent highlights can make it seem like you’ve been catapulted up the the ranks of cooldom. My point is, if you were tempted to actively encourage your child to become an outcast in order to receive some sort of karmic cool points for later in life, this would be a risky strategy.
Anyway the reason for the loser flip phenomenon is the things that sometimes contribute to loserdom in school - doing your own thing, having your own personal style, having discipline, standing up for what you believe, nurturing your own quirky interests - are things that make you an awesome adult. So if your child is obsessed with Star Wars take them to a convention, if they can’t get enough of earthworms help them start a blog about it. Nurture their uniqueness and convince them that those things that make them a ‘loser’ are the things you love the most. Ultimately you will be their most valuable teacher, you will show them how to wave their loser flag high. You will help them see that one thing is true about both school and adulthood, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks it’s how you feel that counts. And at the risk of sounding a bit too Disney, if your child can feel cool about who they are, no matter what anyone else says, they’ll have cake to eat, cake to keep and some to share with everyone too.
This question comes from the wonderful Urban Mumble, who gives me something important to think about with every darn post.