Thursday. Greg’s mom tells Greg that he has to write thank-you notes before he can go over to Rowley’s house. Greg has a hard time with this, since he hated all his gifts. He types up a form letter on his computer, but this causes problems when it generates phrases like “all my friends will be so jealous that I have my very own pants.”
Greg has a difficult time feeling and expressing gratitude, which demonstrates that he lacks the maturity to see outside his own interests and experiences. Rather than thinking about other people’s feelings, he tends to prioritize his own.
Friday and Monday. Greg knocks Rowley off the Big Wheel, accidentally breaking his hand. Rowley has to wear a cast, which generates a great deal of sympathy at school. For instance, girls invite Rowley to sit at their table so they can feed him. Greg tries to “cash in on some of Rowley’s newfound popularity” by telling everyone that he was the one who broke Rowley’s hand, but he is just called a “meanie.”
Although Greg desperately wants to be popular, he displays a comical lack of understanding of social relationships and how to make friends. Telling everyone that he broke Rowley’s hand unsurprisingly fails to make people like him more.
Tuesday. Jealous of Rowley’s popularity at school, Greg tries to fake an injury to garner similar sympathy. However, telling people he has a “raging infection” doesn’t seem to work, since people just find it disgusting. He thinks the problem is that he doesn’t have a cast to sign, so asks people to sign his “sympathy sheet,” which is similarly unsuccessful: the only person who is interested is Fregley.
Greg tends to value social relationships and friendships for what they can bring him—in the form of high status and popularity—rather than making meaningful connections with people. This explains why his attempts to generate sympathy don’t meet much success, since he is faking an injury to try to become more popular.
Monday and Tuesday. Greg signs up for a class called Independent Study. He’d rather take Home Economics 2, since he is good at sewing, but he found that this didn’t make him any more popular. On the first day of class, the teacher tells the students they will be building a robot. Greg brainstorms some ideas for a robot that will do chores for him, while the girls want to design a robot that dispenses lip gloss. The guys think this is “the stupidest idea we ever heard,” so they split into a separate group from the girls. Now that all the “serious workers” are together, they come up with a list of the swear words the robot shouldn’t be able to say. When the teacher comes back, he is less than pleased with this list and cancels the class for the rest of the year.
Greg actually enjoyed and was successful in his Home Economics class, which taught domestic skills like cooking and sewing. However, since those skills are more typically associated with girls, kids made fun of Greg for being good at sewing and he chose not to continue. The rigidity of gender roles in Greg’s middle school is also demonstrated by the separation between boys and girls in the robot-building class. Greg and the boys think the girls’ ideas are stupid, although it is actually the boys who get the class cancelled by generating a list of robot swear words.
Thursday. At school, the students watch a film called “It’s Great to Be Me,” which Greg thinks is pretty bad advice, given how many kids are bullied for being who they are. It occurs to him that if he joins the Safety Patrol—a group of students who escort people across the street—he won’t be bullied because he’ll be in a “position of authority.” He and Rowley sign up to walk kindergarteners home from school, which will also conveniently allow them to miss part of Pre-Algebra class.
Greg thinks that the message of “It’s Great to Be Me” has little relevance in his middle school, where his classmates strive to fit in rather than show what makes them unique. This is because deviation from social norms can lead to bullying and isolation. There is no point in “being yourself,” Greg points out, if people don’t accept that authentic version.
Tuesday. Greg and Rowley take advantage of the free hot chocolate available to Safety Patrols in the morning, even though their shift isn’t until the afternoon. As they walk the kindergarteners home, one of the children tells Greg that he’s had an accident, but Greg ignores him, claiming that he didn’t sign up for “diaper duty.”
Greg clearly only cares about being on the Safety Patrol because he wants to have a position of power in the school that might raise his social status, not because he cares about kindergarteners—as demonstrated when he ignores one child who tells him he’s had an “accident.”