One of the things I really looked forward to about moving to a smaller town was getting to know my neighbors. I was convinced that folks in small towns were infinitely friendlier than those in the big towns, and that I would be welcomed into the fold via my homegrown family members that had lived in Hicksville all their lives.
Umm. Not so much. After a year of having my kids in school in Hicksville, and attending a variety of school events, I still only know my 2nd cousin and his family, the gal I went to high school with that also moved out to Hicksville this last year and .... well. That's it. I've met a couple of others. They've smiled politely when introduced. But other than that, I don't really exist to them.
Luckily, I have a great group of friends here in the big town, so it's not something I dwell on. It's not like I don't have people to hang out with. But I'm sure Daddy found it a little weird when he came to the boys' spring concert, and I didn't have a single person to introduce him to. I forget that we haven't really made any friends out there until I arrive to one of these school events (spring concert, track meet, etc) and see everyone else greeting each other. Then I realize that I really am the "outsider" still. And my kids probably still are as well.
When did small towns get so exclusive?
When I was in junior high, we moved around for about 3 years with my dad. We lived in small little towns all over the western part of the US. And I was always welcomed. I was new. Fresh meat, so to speak. I wasn't drop dead gorgeous, so the girls didn't feel threatened, and didn't hesitate to reach out to me. I wasn't butt ugly, so the boys were intrigued, and wanted to date me. I loved smalled towns. My folks loved small towns. My husband grew up in a small town. Why wouldn't I want to move my family to one and have my kids enjoy that lifestyle?
Now I have to admit - I'm a bit shy. I'm not the gal that will immediately walk over to you and talk you up, unless of course, I'm in "my element" - then I will definitely try to reach out and make you feel welcome. So maybe it's my own fault, for not finding someway to connect with the people of Hicksville. Maybe once we move, and are living out there full time instead of being commuters, we'll manage to make some friends. Maybe once we start going to church out there, it will give us more of a chance to interact, and the Hicksvillians will realize what fun, witty, fascinating people we are.
Or maybe not. What if we end up being the outsiders forever? For myself, it would make me a bit sad, but wouldn't kill me. As I said - I have real friends in the big town that I will continue to be friends with. We're not that far out, and we've already discussed what a great place the new house will be to gather and drink and eat and laugh, etc. For my husband? Pfft. He's not that social anyway.
But for my kids? THAT'S what I really worry about. Just how long will my boys be considered the new kids? When do they become locals? After a year? Two? Five? It doesn't help that the local bully brothers are in the same grades as my kids, and my kids are their latest targets. Or that the BB's (as I shall call them now, because heaven knows, I don't want them discovering this blog out of nowhere and threatening to sue ME because I've dared to say what everyone else tells us about their darling boys. And believe me - I wouldn't put it past them to run a daily google search on themselves, their boys, and Hicksville just to make sure proper respect is being shown to them. Pfft.) have learned their interaction skills from their folks. Yes - because if you dare to assign consequences to these kids, their parents are more than willing to bribe or threaten until the administration backs down.
I'd like to sic them on Osama. Trust me - dude would be TOAST.
Oh dear. This has turned into a whiny "why don't they like my kids?" post, hasn't it? Actually, my kids seem to get along with the other Hicksvillians well enough, but they haven't really made friends with anyone. We've yet to get a call from anyone out there. That makes me so sad. While not a popular kid growing up, I always had a group of friends. And I think that my oldest would like to be that way, but he hasn't yet learned how to do that. After years of being bullied at his big town school, he just lost all confidence in himself. He doesn't know how to be a friend anymore, because those punks never let him have any. And I don't have a clue how to teach him that. I didn't learn those skills, I just "was".
I just wish it were easier.
I just thought it would be easier for them. And it's not. And that sucketh.