Kristin goes D&D

Showing my support for our son and his obsession.

On this week’s show we talked about my son’s recent troubles at school – specifically, that some kids have been telling him that he is weird because he likes dragons.

The rational part of my mind knows that this is perfectly normal. Every child is trying to find his or her place in the world, and while I will never understand it, some kids feel like they also have to define that place for other children.

It’s an age when everyone is trying to be normal, but no one knows what that is.

I know it because I lived it. I was a kid that struggled for years to find my place.

I was immature and awkward. I liked comic books, Saturday morning cartoons and dressing up for Halloween far beyond the years it was considered “normal.”

I had very little interest in what I wore, which is why I ended up wearing outfits my mother selected. Outfits that, looking back, were actually very stylish and probably pretty expensive at the time, but needed to be “owned.”

I longed to perform but was easily crushed by careless comments from classmates, and suffered from chronic stage fright, which didn’t allow me to show my true voice until I was well into adulthood.

Looking back, it wasn’t until I finally embraced the person I was and wasn’t embarrassed about the things I was interested in, that I could become the person I am today. No small part of that discovery process was finding the people who not only accepted my differences, but understood that’s what made me a person they would like to know.

Today, I’m a grown up who still prefers cartoons to crime dramas, can name most of the Avengers and the X-Men (but admit I can start losing names when we get deeper in to the ranks or into offshoots like Avengers West Coast), believes every Halloween costume should include a cape and think my Wonder Woman boots make the perfect accessory for most outfits.

I skipped The Help because it was too long, but happily carry around books the size of the King James Bible as long as the story involves dragons, quests, kings and kingdoms.

And the stage fright? I can talk to thousands each week through our podcast, hundreds as a speaker and presenter, and can happily belt out a tune (as evidenced by the recent Manic Mommies Escape). None of these performances may be any good, but nerves aren’t the reason for failure.

And, I’m raising a kid who feels like he doesn’t quite fit in, in part because of the things he is interested in.

Which is so weird because the thing he is most interested in, dragons, are everywhere. They fill the pages of bestselling books such as The Dragonriders of Pern, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. They are on the big and small screens in movies both old and new – Dragonslayer, How to Train Your Dragon, the Neverending Story, The Hobbit. Chinese culture is filled with dragon references, and you can find dragon decor as easily as visiting Amazon.com.

So really, how weird could he be?

I am proud to be raising a child who has an imagination as big as a dragon, with a soul as sensitive as it’s heart. And while I may have an almost overwhelming desire to shake each child or parent who would dream crush my child, I know that he is going to run into people throughout his life who will want him to be “normal.”

Which is why I will continue to show him how the weird kids of yesterday are the artists, inventors, storytellers and intellectuals of today. I will celebrate his creations and creativity, while still trying to keep his feet on the ground and his attention focused, at least temporarily, on the less fantastical things that need to be done (like, his homework). I help him understand how to tell real friends from those who would pretend while turning all that is unique and special against him.

And I will continue to show that it’s more than okay to keep it weird.

 

18 Responses to Keeping it weird

  1. Jolie says:

    So true! It’s far better to be weird than boring! Thanks for keeping it up!

  2. Michelle says:

    It is hard to decide where you are in the scheme of things. As a kid and as an adult. You are doing a great job by instilling in him the understanding that friends, true friends, are the one that can appreciate him and do their own thing regardless of the “cool factor.” Trying to “fit in” to a specific mold or idea leads to a lot of confusion and shame. Be true to who you are at the time and decide on your own if you are to continue or move on from a phase or idea. It’s out growing as a person.

  3. Kristin says:

    Beautiful….. Andersman, keep on rocking whatever you love!~

  4. wendy says:

    “Which is why I will continue to show him how the weird kids of yesterday are the artists, inventors, storytellers and intellectuals of today.”

    LOVE this sentence! I wasn’t totally a “weird” kid, but I certainly wasn’t all that popular or mainstream. My daughters are both kind of weird, too.

    I don’t know the situation your son faced, but it could be that “everyone” who told him he was weird turns out to be only 1 or 2 kids. Who probably like those same things but somehow were told that isn’t “cool.”

    Keep encouraging him! Good job, mom!

  5. Hilary Buxton says:

    This was WONDERFUL!!!! Thanks SO MUCH, Kristin. I intend to borrow.

  6. Jennifer says:

    My son is a doomed kid. My husband is a role player/video gamer/sci-fi geek. I am also a geekgirl. Love to read, got my husband and kid to watch Doctor Who, and played a little D&D back while dating the hubby. We are all about embracing our geekery, encouraging our love of it with him, and loving it when he finds his own interests whether they be sports/Legos/something geeky. But I absolutely love that you dressed up for Anders class and made your presence known. :)

  7. Deb says:

    Not sure where this quote is from, but I love it and thought you’d appreciate it:

    “Those who follow the crowd never go further than the crowd. Those who walk alone go places no one has ever been.”

  8. Jennifer says:

    Luckily for Anders, with the new rise of comic book movies, reboots of Star Trek, Star Wars and the like, it is becoming so much more cool to be a geek these days. Plus, one day, we’ll bring him to San Diego Comic Con or DragonCon in Atlanta, and he’ll find thousands of passionate weird geeks exactly like him.

    And when my five year old daughter comes to me and says a kid in school called her weird, I said, “Fabulous! I love weird people! I surround myself in weird people – they are the most fascinating people I know.”

  9. Jen D. says:

    Love love love this conversation. Our son, 8, is very smart, athletic, and attractive. He’s also a bit of a geek, raised by geeks, who has a “stim.” I’ve been worried lately that the “stim” (in his case, head rocking side to side, often when he’s tired) is going to be a source of teasing as he gets older. I’m wrestling with it A LOT lately. Do I help him try to control it? Do I let it go? We’ve always taught him to love himself for who he is and be proud to let his geek-flag fly, so trying to change him by encouraging him to find a less obvious “stim” rubs me the wrong way. Yet I know I HATED being teased, beginning in the 5th grade all through high school, and want to spare him that pain. What’s a mom to do? Bring it on, ladies. Words of wisdom appreciated!

  10. Karen says:

    Does Anders have one or two friends who share or can relate to his liking of dragons? For me, that made all the difference growing up.

    Jen, for your son–could you talk to your son’s teacher about the head rocking? S/he may know whether it’s something he does much at school, whether other kids notice, and whether it’s something you need to worry about.

  11. Kristin says:

    Jen – I totally feel you on this question. In a bullying workshop two years ago we were advised to help our kids with habits or things that might differentiate them/open them up to bullying. When a parent next to me protested (isn’t our job to let them be who they are going to be) I replied “our job is to keep them from getting their asses kicked.” So, as you can see, I’m torn.

    While I encourage him to be himself, I am also on the look out for things that will make his life harder. For example, I remind him that not everyone wants to hear him wax poetic about dragons, and that he has to know his audience. Talk about dragons to his friends, don’t do it to kids who tell him he’s strange. It’s the same for things like, for example, how he says the word remember (he keeps saying “renember”) – on one hand, it’s wrong. On the other, who cares?

    That being said, and not being a medical specialist, I might ask his doctor about his stim before trying to reign it in – could be a sign of something else.

  12. KathyP says:

    Motherhood is so challenging, but growing up is harder! My daughter, now 15 and enthusiastically attending our local arts magnet school, marches to her own drummer. She is creative, dyslexic, smart and independent. She recently accused me of wishing she would conform. Her evidence? When she attended the all-girls-school-for-blonde-lacrosse-players I told her if she wanted to dress like the other girls, I would help her figure out how. She had no interest. Instead, we put purple streaks in her hair and applied to art school. Finally, she is happy and goes to anime conventions and has lots of friends just like her. I thought we would have to wait for college for this to happen! Maybe that’s when she will learn to spell and put her clothes away…

  13. Julie says:

    Welcome to my world! My thoughts are that mainstream, aka “normal” is mediocrity. My two daughters fit into the “weird” category, as defined by the self-proclaimed popular kids. I have explained ad nauseum that labels help simple minds figure out the world. I tell my girls that they can be whomever they want to be regardless of what others say. It will be tough over the next few years, no doubt. But I cross my fingers that with my support, they will develop strong character and a unique identity that will allow them to make the world a better place.

    Stay strong mom! It is amazing how resilient our kids are. My 4th grade daughter would be happy to discuss dragons or Avengers with anyone who breathes, even if it’s a one-sided conversation. :)

  14. Erin Howard says:

    Jen D. – are you sure it’s a “stim”? It could be a tic, which is somewhat different. My daughter, almost 8, has tics, although we recently saw another neurologist who said it might actually be a stereotypy which I believe is the medical term for a “stim”. You may want to look into CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy if it does become a problem as he gets older. If you want to talk more let’s figure out a way to exchange email addresses.

    Kristin – I loved your story about visiting Anders’s class – it almost brought me to tears, believe it or not. We definitely have nerdish tendencies here in my house – my husband is a D&D playing engineer who loves math, sci fi, and fantasy. I have 2 girls and I think all the time about how to handle the inevitable situations like the one that came up in your son’s class. I hope I can follow your graceful and imaginative example.

  15. Angie says:

    Ditto! Kristin’s story about visiting Anders’ class was so wonderful that I nearly shed a tear, too. You’re a hero, Kristin, with or without the Wonder Woman boots.

  16. Shawn says:

    I love this post, Kristin! As a classroom teacher, I saw the dream-crusher kids all the time, and I tried to encourage my students to be a family, but that won’t always work with some kids. Kudos to you for growing into who you are meant to be and showing your children that you are proud of who you are!

  17. Francene says:

    Hurray for weird moms and wonderful kids. I’m a geeky librarian who loves her books and her boys. My youngest son (who is 9) has told us for the last 2 years that he wants to grow up to be a dictator. He is planning on taking over an island somewhere and building us a nice house by the ocean. We’ve tried to gently change this goal plan and point out that generally people do not appreciate dictators taking over people’s lives. He also spends a lot of time wandering our yard, carrying a stick or wooden gun and acts out lengthy scenarios in his head. In day care he and his friends have a stuffed pet stingray for which they have made a box home. These are the kids who in the future who will use their imaginations to build our world. Anders is not alone. Stand strong mom geeks.