Sunday, November 01, 2015


This word has crept into the girls’ vocabulary over the last few months: Popular. (and not as Popular Bookstore)

They use it to describe their classmates. As in: A and B are popular, C is not.

I have to ask them: What makes a girl popular? Is it how she looks or behaves or what? Are you girls popular?

“Oh no, we’re not popular, mama,” both cheerfully declare. I gather that in the schoolgirl scheme of things, they are quiet obedient wallflowers and they seem rather happy to be so.

“I don’t want to be popular, mama,” says Jo.

Well, then at their age and stage in life, what makes a girl popular?

They claim it has nothing to do with appearance.

Lu says, the popular girls are those who all bring stickers to school to trade, and who dare to draw under the teacher’s nose. She also mimics how they flounce around in class: She throws up her arms, tosses her head, rolls her head and lilts – It’s NOT FAIR! (then she opines: I can’t STAND how they say that, mama)

Jo yells: No of course it’s not just how they look or what they say! It’s how they behave, lah!

But she can’t (or refuses to) put it into words or act it out.

Instead, she whips out her class photo and methodically points at every girl, left to right, top row to bottom row, labeling who is popular and who is not. It’s very clear to her. It’s not clear at all to me because before she did that, I tried to guess and I got everything wrong.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m glad it has taken this long for them to realise and form opinions about what’s popular and unpopular.

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