New Kid in School: A primer

Does the feeling ever go away? ‘Cause I find myself sitting in little desks in classrooms surrounded by a gaggle of my peers that I don’t know, all nervous and wondering how to start a conversation without seeming like a total loser. In fact, almost every year since I have moved to Montreal I have had this experience. First of all because I actually did go to school (but then, we were all new and in the same boat). And since I graduated I’ve held 4 jobs in 3 years (I am beginning to think that their is something wrong with me.)

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my daughters. One is going into grade 3 and the other is in grade 5. This was the same age that I was when I moved from Alberta to B.C. and started in a new school with new kids and a whole new set of kiddie politics and class dynamics. Does that ever change? I remember the most tiring part of my day was dealing with this weird little microcosm.

I don’t know where I am going with this blog post- I know I am overdue for an entry but I can’t get my brain to think in any coherent pattern. So I will talk about the exhausting world of kiddie politics, which as I now know, translates with very little adaptation to workplace politics.

People you should identify in order to be extremely wary of:

1. Mean girl
School:Now she is not always so obvious. She can be extremely friendly and usually is extremely smart. Until the moment where you offend her in an obscure way and then watch out. You are blacklisted and receive hate mail in math class.
Workplace: She might not send you hate mail, but you’ll get picked on or discounted or she will choose not to cooperate with you which has other consequences.
Solution: Never get too friendly. Be nice and polite but under no circumstances feed her any ammunition that she can later use against you.

2. A Types
School: My oldest daughter has a few of these in her class. They are smart, they are organized and are usually very nice when you either do what they tell you to do or when you let them do all the work (in a project based education system, this can more harmful than first appears). When you don’t do what they tell you they become Mean Girl. Frustrated, angry and liable to put you down.
Work: Um, same thing.
Solution: I don’t know. I think I might be this type. My challenge is to not judge people and to try and be patient. This has been very hard for me in recent times and have had to work at not turning into Mean Girl. The only thing that works for me- call them on it. Usually they don’t realise they are being totally witchy or they do and they feel bad about it.

3. Negative Type
School: The person who is going to shoot you down for anything you attempt. Either because it is uncool, stupid or plain requiring effort.
Workplace: Same thing, but probably also the person that has been there for too long, who doesn’t want to change, who regards you as an impostor and feels vaguely threatened by you.
Solution: Do it anyway. Screw them.

4. The Slow Kid
School: You know who I mean. The kid who sits in the back of the class happily sniffing glue and eating paper. The teacher asks him or her a question and they just grin back, their smile almost spiritual in its beknightness. You try to include them but they don’t understand the rules. They are socially awkward which makes it hard to like them and sometimes they smell.
Workplace: I actually haven’t met anyone yet who eats paper, but I have had colleagues with personal hygiene issues…
Solution: None. Keep trying. And make sure they don’t bring out the Mean Girl, A Type or Negative One in you.

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