Quirky has always been my side dish of choice.
I like to dress mostly like a normal human, with a dish of quirk on the side.
I like my mantle to look somewhat put together, with a dollop of weird right on top.
I’ve always been the one who decides that if everyones dressing up I’ll probably throw on my jeans with holes in the knees and a pair of chucks but I would be lying if I told you that I don’t most often wear a dress to do the normal stuff like, oh, mow the lawn or vaccuum.
If everyone’s seen a certain movie or read a specific book, I most often write it off as lame and won’t even pick it up.
I get the flaws in this system of mine but we’re not talking about those today. We’re talking about the joys.
You can imagine my delight when my littlest little approached me one day with the question, “Mom, do you think I’m weird?”
I looked that precious little blonde hair, blue eyed boy straight in his face, taking a moment to stare at that dimple on just one side of his cheek and his fake glasses resting atop his nose and I said, “Yes. Yes! I think you’re completely and wonderfully weird.”
The feeling that overcame his entire being was palpable. His dodgy eyed grin enough to melt my heart.
“Thanks, Mom,” he beamed and ran off with his moppy head of hair bouncing as he did.
I don’t know what it is with our parenting culture in this generation but I come across article after article on what we MUST tell our kids. What our children NEED to hear from us. I’ll be honest and say I don’t read them anymore. I’ve read enough (like, 3? maybe?) to know that I don’t subscribe to what they have to say. Especially the ones with a number in the title. 4 ways to save your daughters. 6 steps to a healthy family. 14 ways to raise a non-psychopath. 9 things you must tell your son.
Right. Like there are steps to check in this parenting gig. Things we can cross off of our lists and mark as done. I’m also quite certain that there are more than 9 things my son must hear from me or the top nine would be (in random order *cough*):
1) Brush your teeth
2) Put deodorant on
3) Clean your room
4) Do your homework
5) Walk the dog
6) Put deodorant on. Yes, again. I don’t care, just do it.
7) Eat your veggies
8) Do something that isn’t a screen!
9) Your iPod is a screen!
While I get the heart behind such articles, my slightly rebellious, I don’t want to do what you say I have to, heart deems that there is no one way. There is no, “I did this and so this will happen,” play book.
The thing is that we’re not dealing with inanimate objects we’re dealing with little lives. We’re not moulding clay we’re moulding actual thinking and feeling and beating little minds and hearts. I contend there is no check list when it comes to human hearts.
So, in that moment when my boy came to me he didn’t need to be told that he was loved. He didn’t need me to gush about how special he was. He didn’t need me to talk about his natural ability to play sport or how proud I am at how much he’s learned in his one year of piano. He didn’t need me to call him courageous or a warrior. He didn’t need me to go on about his strength of character.
That boy needed me to tell him that he’s weird. End of story.
Parenting can’t be summed up in a few words and I hesitate to push this even further for fear that I start to sound advicey, but I know in our family it takes more than the repeating of I love you’s and your specials to touch my kids hearts. It takes knowing them. It takes spending time with them, talking with them about things that interest them, (even if it’s League of Legends or Pokemon, mamas!) it takes observing the way they do life and the ways they feel encouraged and loved and to meet them right at that place.
So please don’t go and call your kid weird thinking you’re doing the right thing. For your child that might be bullying, for mine it was like a breath of intoxicating mountain air.
There’s no 6 ways or 9 steps or 13 musts, parents. There are children who need to be loved and encouraged and cherished in a million different ways. Let’s not force them into some sort of mould or expect them to be just like the Jones’ or tell them lies (don’t even get me started on ‘you’re the best’ and ‘you can do anything you want to do’ and other forms of flattery we’re heaping on this generation, lies every one of them).
Instead, let’s know them and discover their intricate needs, needs that will look so different from every other kid in their class.
Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather foster his inner weirdo than simply teach him to colour in the lines.