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.