“Mom, it’s important that we’re all different. Because life would be boring if we were all the same. This is how I am. And when I find someone that thinks how I do, it will be good.”
My 6-year-old gracefully took my own words and used them against me as I tried to coax her into trying to talk to new friends at school.
Once again, she was the teacher and I was the student as she went on to label herself as weird, and how she was perfectly happy the way she is. I was quick to remind her weird isn’t a bad thing. Weird is something to embrace. We do weird in this house. We embrace our differences and we cheer for individuality. Weird is positive. Besides, what’s “normal” anyway?
If we’re out and about, you may see my girls dressed as super heroes or in some crazy mis-matched outfits. You’ll see them happiest digging in the dirt, creating homes for their worms and spiders, and making up interpretive dances to the MJR theme song. My girls are just weird about a lot of things.
I often hear: “I love how you let your girls be themselves.”
I take this as a compliment because authenticity is something I strive for, so why wouldn’t I want the same for my kids? Yet I still battle with the thought that maybe my kids are a little too weird, and maybe it would be easier if they fit what society deems normal for a little girl. Maybe I’d rather hear that they are adorable or well-behaved because that’s how little girls should be described, at least according to anyone over the age of 60. Right?
Thing is, as the saying goes — well-behaved girls seldom make history. Weird, smart, unique girls do. Yet I still have to remind myself of this daily, despite being called weird for majority of my own growing up, and never being phased by it.
I will never forget how you beamed when you stepped in front of me with the face paint you thought long and hard about…bloody scratches that looked like claw marks. This, after seeing girl after girl covered in neon, happy faces. Not you though. You always keep us guessing.
For being a very shy gal who follows rules like nobody’s business, I have to chuckle when you end up getting all kind of attention for the outfits you choose and the odd things you can be found doing — from playing SWAT Team to begging to watch scary movies with zombies.
You are funny and passionate, though not everyone gets to see that side. There is always a song in your heart and you sing while you create. Your time is spent organizing your weird little collections and exploring your surroundings with an imaginative and boisterous spirit. I admire this SO much about you.
I can’t figure out what the girly girl culture ever did to you, but you sure despise it. I find it comical considering I really tried my best to put you in dresses and bows, and you hated them, even as an infant. Today, you chuckle as you see yourself in dresses in your baby photos, and you were the lone girl not sporting a leotard and pink at dance class.
The moment you slipped on that Ninja Turtle hoodie, it was magic, and you fell hard — into the world of everything superhero. There aren’t many days your hair isn’t a mess and your hood not over your head. There was a time when people often mistook you as a boy, but whatever…You’re definitely just being who you are — and threaten to karate chop or hand cuff anyone who dare crosses your path.
Your quirk and random jokes generally tells other kids you want to be left alone, or they cling to you, knowing full-well you are a challenge. These are the kids I hope you befriend — if they can handle you at your ultimate weirdness, we know they are good ones who will love you with the fierce love and protection you have for your family.
To both of my girls: I hope you stay weird.
My parental task lies ahead: How do I keep you both unique? Can we maintain this ability to be comfortable in your own skin into the teen years? And most of all, how do I maintain sanity as you grow?
I don’t pretend to always “get” my girls, and I struggle with both of them some days, but I will always fight for them to express themselves. I am not spending these years letting my girls build their own quirky personality just to have them conform to society’s expectations in the future.
Raising spirited children has been my hardest life task by far. On a daily basis, I find myself proud one moment and then apologizing for their behavior the next. Some days I struggle to turn off the “I-would-never-do-that” voice in my head.
Yet I’m proud of my girl’s confidence and the fact they don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks about them, and that they are willing to accept others for their quirks, too. They truly are their authentic selves, and I pray daily that remains forever.
In the process, perhaps they will inspire me to let my weird show more, too.