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I HOPE my grandchildren (when I have one) doesn’t go through high school as part of the “in” group. All you need is eyes and ears to see what becomes of the jocks and beauty queens from your high school days.

The kids who made it, with rare exceptions, were the ones with their heads in books. I bet Bill Gates wasn’t a real popular kid, and I don’t think Hillary Clinton was the homecoming queen.

I know that being a jock or a beauty queen doesn’t necessarily mean there’s only empty space under the crown. But I think a lot of kids spend a great deal of time thinking about those things and very little time studying. And what’s the payoff?

Very few jocks make the pros. Most of the time, all a high school star takes with him into his adult life is a few yellowed clips from the local paper and a lifelong knee problem.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have a thing to do with a guy that wasn’t on the team. (Any team – except the math team.) Today, I think team sports are fine, but I would like to encourage my grandchild to put a greater effort into finding an individual sport that he enjoys simply for the pleasure of it, and not for the glory.

I think it’s sad to run into a guy in a sweatshirt saying. “West High, Class of 1972” and realize it’s been downhill from age 18. As for the girls, a lot of those early bloomers fade fast.

I remember the kids we branded “simple” because they did things we thought weren’t cool – like bird watching or playing violin. I don’t know what made out gang at the soda-pop shop believe our discussions about what we were going to believe so important. The others were complex we were the “simple” ones.

My personal goal was to coast through high school without ever having to bring home a book. What was important was to be popular. I don’t know why I expended all that effort. I have not seen most of the people I was popular with fro 25 years. As it turns out, their opinions didn’t matter so much.

I know how hard it is to convince your kids of this. They want so much to belong. If your child is “out of it” because he marches to a different drummer, do what you can to make him feel proud.

Tell him what I am going to try to convince my grandchildren of: that it’s more important to be “somebody” when your 40 than when you’re “14.”


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