Monday, June 6, 2011

The Outsider's Guide to Fitting In: Life as a PK

If you've spent any time at all in church, you've probably heard someone make reference to pastors' kids. "You know about those pastors' kids," some say with a wink and a nudge.

Pastors' kids are supposedly wild and crazy, or something. I've never quite figured out how we're supposed to be, but apparently everyone knows and everything goes.

I suppose Katy Perry is the poster child for "you know about those pastors' kids." Yup, Miss "I Kissed a Girl" is a pastor's kid, but these days, that doesn't really surprise me. (Other PKs include Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Marvin Gaye, Condoleezza Rice, the Jonas Brothers, and Denzel Washington.)

So if you're feeling at all like an outsider in this world of sometimes crazy PKs, here's everything you probably don't want to know about fitting in.

Everyday life looks something like...
Normalcy doesn't really exist in the life of a PK, but if it did, it may look something like this:

- Everyone knows your business, especially the people that you don't want to know your business. There may be privacy policies on every web site that exists, but trust me, there isn't one for PKs. Ever.
- Similarly, if you say one thing or do one thing, expect every person in your church (and beyond) to know about it within a few hours. This can and will come back to haunt you.
- Conversely, people will rarely remember important things, like your birthday. Also, people will tend to forget you when it comes to sending out invites to activities and events. Later they will say, "Oh you should have come!"
- You get asked the same questions over and over. Just memorize simple answers and you will be good. Attempting to create differently-worded answers will only confuse you.
- Be prepared to censor EVERYTHING. Biggies include Facebook/Twitter/any social networking posts, speech, appearance, and your friends. Yup, you not only have to censor yourself, you also have to censor others. You have a reputation to maintain!

People will assume
Truth doesn't exactly exist when you're a PK. For everyone who sees you regularly, the truth is what they want it to be. For example:

- If you're single, beware. Talking to the opposite gender where people can see you automatically means something is going on. This fact will be widely circulated, first to your mom, then to everyone else who will listen.
- If you're in a relationship, everyone is in it with you. Certain individuals will also want a play-by-play.
- You're either one of two things: a spoiled, bratty goodie-two-shoes or a wild, crazy rebel. There is no in-between. And it's nearly impossible to change people's minds on this, so it's best not to try.
- No matter how you intend to come across when saying something, people will interpret what you do however they want. Once again, it's best not to try. Nodding and smiling usually works best.
- People expect you to remember their name and who they are, even if you only met them once for three seconds. The fact that you are the PK and everyone knows you, puts you at a slight disadvantage. The best thing is to pretend you know who they are, then find out their names later.

Others may do it, you can't
It may be perfectly normal to do some things, but as a PK, you may not participate.

- Non-PKs can broadcast what their dads do for a living. This is socially acceptable and a form of one-up-manship. PKs cannot join in. If they attempt to, they will be given weird looks, and possibly subjected to verbal stoning.
- Other non-PKs will not know the answer to hard questions. You must know the answer, as well as the cross-references.
- Something may be funny, but if it's at all inappropriate, PKs may not laugh. Or even be present.
- Other people your age may be having fun with their peers, but as the PK, you are not permitted to join in. As an alternative, you should stay home and knit.

Great expectations
There are expectations set for PKs that they don't even know about, nor will they ever. PKs are supposed to be "setting an example." That can mean...

- PKs should always know the right thing to say. Not knowing the proper comment will result in blank stares, uncomfortable laughter or silence, and people quickly shuffling away from you.
- PKs should always be well-behaved. That means no dancing, or breaking any of the other unwritten commandments.
- PKs are not allowed to make mistakes. If you make a mistake you may be strung up by your toes, or ridiculed permanently.
- PKs must participate in church activities. You must be in the choir, even if you can't sing; you will be cast in plays, even if you can't act; you have to perform musically, even if you suck; and you have to go to every event for your age group, even if something else that you'd rather do is going on.
- People expect PKs to be homeschooled, socially awkward and nerdy. If you are not one of these things, as a PK something is wrong with you.

Reality check
For those of you who are guilty of PK stereo-typing, here are some true facts for you:

- PKs don't have all the answers. In fact, we're trying to figure out life just like you are. Crazy, huh?!
- Most PKs can't be spoiled. Our dads don't make much and our families are busy trying to help other people. Goodwill, anyone?
- There are some things we don't want broadcasted, and therefore will not be sharing. Sorry, but it's not TMZ: Church Edition.
- Not all PKs are completely wild and crazy, but who is perfect 100% of the time? Let that person cast the first hymnal. I mean stone.
- PKs really are just normal people. We make mistakes, sometimes get things right, and sing along with Katy Perry in the car.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Alot of these apply to missionary kids, too. When we're on the field everyone's in the same boat and we have our own little culture, but when their parents go to the states on home assignment, the kids experience much of these same things.

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