Monday, October 5, 2009

Peer Pressure - Poopy vs. Productive

We've had some excitement this past week at Maison Forrest. What you might call a teachable moment.

Daring Daughter has been in a Girl Scout troop for the past couple of years, and has enjoyed a variety of fun activities. When she went to the first meeting of the year last Wednesday, she was surprised to learn that the troop had shrunk from eight to five. Three of the girls had decided not to continue. As the meeting progressed, it became clear that the bossiness leadership tendencies previously exhibited by two of the remaining members were in hyperdrive mode. They expected the others to follow their decisions. When Daring Daughter expressed different views, she was subjected to the dreaded whisper and point subjugation technique.

Daring Daughter may not have yet studied the psychology of Groupthink, but she definitely favors individual rights. We're talking a big free speech advocate here. The cliquishness had previously been evident, but with a smaller group to coerce convince, the tyrants alpha females were running amuck strongly asserting themselves.

I've tried to pass on two good rules to live by, and my daughter applied them in this case.

1. You have to pick your fights. Yes, she could have struggled against this situation, but why bother? There are plenty of opportunities to be with people who are more agreeable and do interesting and worthwhile things.

2. If it's not fun, why do it? These immortal words on a Ben and Jerry's bumper sticker should guide us all. There's lots of fun to be had out there without having to endure meanness.

The upshot is that they won't have Daring Daughter to kick around anymore. She's planning some fun outings with other friends to the zoo, the museum, and a camping trip at the coast in a yurt. She is going to volunteer for the Stream Team, planting trees by creeks to help water quality. And she's started Broadway Musical Theatre for Kids at the local community center.

It's like my Mom always says, everything happens for a reason.

All of this is not to say that groups and peer pressure can't be applied for good. Take me, for example. I'm part of a gang that its founder describes as "an online fitness revolution started by peer pressure from fellow bloggers." Club HASAY (Half as Small as You) is open to any blogger who's trying to achieve a fitness goal. I love the different posts that members write about their efforts, and the encouragement and camaraderie that our posts elicit from each other. My fellow HASAYers emphasize gradual, healthy weight loss through eating better and being more active. That's the kind of groupthink I can support. There's no whispering and pointing, just lots of jokes and teasing, and "you can do it" comments. There are good ideas and motivating tips.

So my report for this month is that I have walked a wee bit outside with a friend, I went to the pool and walked against the current with Professor X, and I've conciously tried not to eat until I'm stuffed. Those may seem like little things, but they're big changes for me. We went up to Seattle last weekend, and ate at Buca di Beppo. In the past, we would have ordered a LOT more food. But I encouraged everyone to be satisfied with less. Super Son and Professor X could have eaten more and burned it off instantly with their mutant metabolisms, but Daring Daughter and I would have been in trouble. I think portions are really key. We can still have great food, but we need to downsize dramatically from our earlier evil ways. Daring Daughter is now old enough to use the community center's treadmill, exercycle, and elliptical machines. So we'll be headed there this afternoon and as many days as possible this fall and winter to work out.

And as we accomplish our fitness goals, if anyone wants to whisper and point at us, it's okay. We'll just assume they're saying "Wow! Look at how those two have shaped up!"


Jenni said...

good job on the walking - i'm going to start this month. really. I am!

Lisa said...

I love Daring Daughter's approach to that situation. And as for the healthful choices - bravo! We're making some changes, too. One thing that is working well for us when we go out, at least, is splitting an entree, for example. As long as we can agree on what to order, it's a great way to keep from overeating. And if we want to indulge our sweet tooth, splitting dessert after a smaller meal, isn't as bad as my usual M.O. However, there are days when I am a "Life is short, dessert first" gal. Those are the days when the elliptical must be my friend.

Michelle said...

Wow. Your DD is amazing! I can't believe how many wonderful things she's doing. Good for her!
As for you, those steps are great! I do the same as far as ordering goes and I feel better, not only about myself, but also about the fact that food is not wasted.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Awesome job! And DD is right in the way she approaches the groupthink philosophy./ Bravo!

Keely said...

Good for you, and good for her! I wonder who gave her that example? ;)

But what the heck is a yurt?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! My X-girlscout daughter would enjoy an outing of some sort with Darling Daughter and you to celebrate the liberation from peer pressure poop! Bowling maybe???

Fantastic Forrest said...

Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments. You warm the cockles of my heart. :-)

Keely - a yurt is the bomb. Check it out here:

I'll bet your area has some too!

Anonymous - you're on. Name the date and time, and we'll see you at Big Al's!

Anonymous said...

I am sure, that's what the pointers are saying ... what a great job you're doing.

My pointers have to point through the living room window at me sitting on the sofa. I don't know why I can't stay motivated. Stay ... haha ... I meant "get."

kyooty said...

Great lessons, all the way down to the bottom of the post. I Love that idea of walking against the current, but you my dear are going with the flow. Keep up the good work!

Barry said...

So its not the tool, its how it is used?

Good for Darling Daughter, I think her decision just saved her a world of grief.

And good for you too...

Casey said...

I'm so glad your daughter chose to walk away from Girl Scouts in stead of enduring a year of peer pressure and hostility. I just hope that not all organized clubs and such are like that or I'll be writing a similar post down the road.

Take it from a fellow "stuff your face until you can barely walk" person, I get that it's huge to work on portion control. I'm still struggling in that area but I'm trying too.

It sounds like you have the perfect workout buddy. Here's to a great month of HASAY goodness!

Mrsbear said...

That's a shame your daughter had to leave the group, but wonderful that she was able to identify the toxic dynamic and just walk away. It reveals a lot about her character.

It's terrible. I always eat myself sick too. If the food is good, I can't seem to stop myself. If you can manage the portion control, you're ahead of the game. Good luck this month.

phd in yogurtry said...

Your two rules rock. Bye bye byotchy girls.

Bee said...

I think that those two rules can be applied to my life, too. (It sounds like your daughter has plenty of other good stuff anyway.)

Is the portion control thing half a rule?