220. Clubs

I understand why children want to have clubs. Ricky Eugster and I formed the Texas Rangers when we were seven. I was Jase Pearson, and he was Clay Morgan. There were a few other members from time to time. And everybody else wasn’t in the club, so we got to be “us,” and everyone else only got to be “them.” I didn’t know it at the time, but most people didn’t really care that they weren’t Texas Rangers. They didn’t even know about us. But we knew, and it was an important bond. Once, I picked a scab off my arm just after he got a cut, and we became blood brothers.
I still belong to clubs. I belong to a songwriters’ group, two music networks, and probably other clubs. We get together, and we’re sometimes inclusive, sometimes too cozy to think about being inclusive. Sometimes we just want to be us. It’s a little embarrassing, especially when we remember how inclusive we usually try to be, but didn’t you ever want to hang out with only certain people? And the only way to do that is to find a way to make sure other people don’t come.
Teachers often forbid clubs. Whenever I heard children say they wanted privacy, though I understood their feeling, I told them they could only have privacy alone. If they allowed anyone else into their world, they had to let everyone in. School was not a place where you could exclude anyone. So there couldn’t be groups that had admissions rules. There couldn’t be what children usually call “clubs.”
This policy often doesn’t seem fair to children, and it isn’t easy for adults, either. If we form a club for people who like to juggle, we don’t want people opposed to juggling to move in on our turf. They can form their own club. They can mobilize however they want, but as long as we can, we’re going to go right on juggling. We’ve got each other, and we’re not going to give up easily.
Sometimes there are people who really bug you. You choose not to spend time with those people – not to spend time and energy trying to find ways the two of you can get along together. As adults, we’re often, but not always, free to decide to avoid people we’d rather avoid. I think they usually try to avoid us, too. Sometimes we end up becoming friends with people we thought we wouldn’t like, and vice versa, but some first impressions are correct.
I feel right about the policy of forbidding clubs in elementary school. I think children should be free to associate with people they choose, but I’d rather postpone the negative effects of the club mentality at least until people have a little more ability to cope with being excluded.

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