Posts Tagged ‘peer pressure’

Mountain Man

9 May 2010

Dear J-

Pretty mellow Sunday today, after some brief morning excitement (we continue to ignore the need for Mother’s Day reservations and trust restauranteurs who insist that so long as we get there at opening, we shouldn’t have any trouble getting seated: this is how you anger customers) we all came back home and had some cake (here I was set up by my niece, who asked if there was whip cream on it; upon replying affirmatively and enthusiastically, I was told that she didn’t like whip cream, thus the cake was a flop with at least one of us). I’m now aware of the power of peer pressure — figgy had happily eaten strawberries in cake before being told that strawberries were yucky, and now that’s it for that particular fruit for the moment, at least.

It’s hard enough to convince her that we’re not conducting cruel and unusual experiences when giving her something besides the usual meat and starches (and I suppose we’re relatively lucky as it is with the eating of meats), but I suppose the key is in making it fun and tasty — some things are easier than others, like corn versus broccoli. She’s already gotten some things engrained on her mind: curry rice, ramen noodles, coconut, mango, and chicken crackers are all reliable keys to the castle. Where we are is conducive to certain types of cuisine, and we do take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

At the end of this particular Mother’s Day we end up taking stock of where we are this year and how far we’ve come. Yet all the changes have been not at the pace we dictate, but the schedule she allows; it’s an object lesson in stubborn wills and immovable objects. And a year from now, who knows where we’ll be on the second Sunday in May? Is it worth worrying about? We shape, we guide, but we can’t push her on the tracks any more than we can move mountains overnight.

Mike

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Peer Self

28 October 2009

Dear J-

The way our school district was set up, we had a single junior high school fed by five elementary schools; junior high was a huge transition, having to get from classroom to classroom and dealing with the hormones and drama of seventh grade.  We ran three years in those halls, so rather than being lowly freshmen in a four-year high school, we were mighty ninth graders (technically part of the high school, taking a few classes down the road when neeeded) lording it over those small, confused junior high kids.  Part of the ridiculousness of today are the numerous milestone celebrations in school (cap and gown ceremonies for sixth graders only serves to lessen the impact for graduating seniors, says me), but in ninth grade we had a recognition night, like our inflated 14-year-old egos needed another puff.

Half that evening was a song-and-dance production put on by the musical groups, and the other half was our last dance as junior high kids; I still remember everyone telling me they knew just the perfect girl for me, and pointing me in the direction of our Japanese exchange student.  I didn’t know her; we hadn’t hung out, I hadn’t taken long bus trips or sat next to her in class like I had with Stina, who I’d much rather have danced with that night.  I suppose it fits every one’s idea of matching off; stick the east Asian kids together, they’ve got to have something in common (rice? tofu?).  Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t done maliciously and I’m not reading that into that night twenty years ago, but any other match would have been unthinkable, even for me.

There are expectations and perceptions we unconsciously hold over (from childhood, from our travels); it forms a kind of curious self-pressure to conform.  Wouldn’t it be nice, they say, and the phrase begins to echo in your head until you believe it too.  Peer pressure keep reappearing throughout your life; what are your neighbors doing, what size of TV does your coworker have, you know, your (sibling, cousin) just did this, went here, bought that, got promoted; we have filters for that kind of stuff but some always leaks by, some always gets in and it’s all you can hear some days.  We always have alternatives, even if it’s hard to tune out the all-talk channel in your head.

Mike