And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The X Factor

What is it about certain people that makes them attract the admiration of their peers, while others spend their lives feeling out of place and unwanted?

Sunny has a daughter a year younger than Big Sprout. Little Sunbeam has been struggling lately in school with other children deciding that they are too "cool" to associate with her. It hurts her to be made to feel inadequate. It hurts her mother to know that she is hurting.

I compare Sunny's little Sunbeam to my own Big Sprout, and I am confounded. Big Sprout is beautiful: robust and strong, red-headed, hazel eyed, kind, generous, smart. She can be bossy, and sometimes a little rude, but never to an extreme. She has nice clothes, but often ruins them the first time wearing them, and we fight with her daily on personal hygiene issues. Little Sunbeam is also an adorable child: blond, blue eyed, sweet, generous, smart. She can be a bit prissy at times, and a little bossy, but never to an extreme. She wears cute clothes, is clean, and seems to be the "normal" child of every parent's fantasies. They are both confident and funny, both have moved from the same old school district to the same new school district (though a year apart).

Yet my Sprout has never had anyone treat her as if she is lacking the elusive "coolness factor". In fact, recently I asked her if it bothered her that she rarely gets "new" clothes, or if her clothing was out of style and she wanted some stuff to better fit in at school. It is a new school, after all, and being the loving mom I am, I wanted her to feel comfortable with her new peers. She informed me that no one cares what you wear, as long as you are comfortable and like how you look.

I love my Sprout.

It just makes me wonder what it really is that makes some of us charismatic and helps us to attract friends. I was never someone who could be labeled "cool" or "popular", and neither was Big Sprout's father, so it isn't a genetic thing. Sunny and I share parenting philosophies, so I doubt that environment is a deciding factor. Could it be confidence? I know my Big Sprout is much more outspoken than Little Sunbeam, but that can backfire as often as not.

I just don't know what it could be...


The Rambling Taoist said...

I'm learning that a lot of these seeming imperceptible differences are the result of neurology. Some of us just happen to be wired differently than the norm and others, particularly during childhood, recognize these anomalies.

You mentioned that your friend's child seems to lack a certain level of self-confidence. This, in and of itself, could be the problem OR the poor child may lack confidence BECAUSE of her difficult social relationships.

It's often so hard to figure out if any personality trait or behavioral pattern is the cause or merely a symptom of something else. (I know this, unfortunately, from personal experience.)

barefoot gardener said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if we could isolate those differences and study the hows and whys of it? Fascinating....

The Rambling Taoist said...

Yes, it would be both interesting AND fascinating!