I want to raise kids that are supremely comfortable with who they are, and confident enough that they can embrace the different. Be ok with not following the pack. Leading their own little pack perhaps a different way. Playing football if you’re a girl. Coloring if you’re a boy. Blurring the lines between “what’s normal” and “what’s normal for me.”
To just raise kids that are confident in being themselves. Whatever self that may be.
But here’s where it gets tricky. I don’t want them to be *so* different that they become an outcast. Neither are in danger of that, but it’s something that floats in the back of my mind. You want them to be confident enough to handle any criticism that may ever come their way, and confident enough to be who they are. From now until the end of time.
And as a parent, that’s a pretty tall order.
Last year, Madeline became seriously, amusingly obsessed with wearing glasses. As an accessory. And Santa Claus delivered, with a pair of her very own in her Christmas stocking. Sometime after, through the disaster that is her bedroom (because it so rarely looks like this), they got lost.
Earlier this week, after having a day off from school and having to spend the day with me at work, I surprised her by taking her out to the store so she could pick out another pair of glasses.
You would have thought I adopted a unicorn.
I love that it takes so little to make her happy. That she is truly, honestly content with whatever she has.
She wore the glasses the rest of the day. Couldn’t wait to show Nick after he got home from school. And fell asleep, clasping the glasses in her little hands.
She had planned to wear them to school the next day. She wore them at Nick’s bus stop that morning. And in the car on the way to her school.
But when we got there, she took them off. I asked her why, and she said, “What if people make fun of me?”
“Oh Madeline,” I started, my heart breaking just a little. “You need to do what makes you happy. You love those glasses, and you look adorable in them. And without them. If you want to wear them, then wear them. And your real friends won’t make fun of you.”
Oh the things that go through that little four-year-old head. I hate that we’re starting such thoughts so early.
And even more with her, because she is one of the most confident people I know, amongst children and adults combined.
It took a few days, but she finally wore them to school. And all was fine.
As I hoped it would be.
Because nobody should be crushing that little girl’s spirit.
Or anyone else’s.
And so the book? Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun? Was pretty perfect.
Madeline and I first read it last week. Before the eyeglasses conversation came up. So I made sure to remind her of the little girl in the story. Who was different. And who worried about fitting in. And being liked. And how it was all ok in the end.
And, of course, life isn’t always ok in the end. Bullies don’t always become friends. But for a bedtime story. And for a little message for a four-year-old who wants to wear glasses. It was a relatable story that ended on a positive note.
And who doesn’t want that sometimes?
The little girl feels different because of her wildly gorgeous curly hair. And a boy classmate taunts her. For that and other reasons. And she goes home to her Grandpa, slightly broken and lost and upset. She soldiers on, one foot in front of the other, trying her best to ignore the mean-spirited classmate. And to be brave.
Until one day when that very same classmate needs her help. Of course, knowing the right thing to do, she helps him without hesitation. And everything becomes ok.
It’s an adorable story. A simple message. With fun, colorful drawings throughout.
And it’s perfect timing. As a reminder that it’s ok to be different. To embrace the different and not worry about what others think.
And because October is Anti-Bullying month.
A topic which deserves its very own post.
Until then… go on and embrace the different. And remind your kids to do it as well. To be confident in themselves. Whoever they may be. And go on and put your spaghetti in a hot dog bun. While we haven’t done that (yet!), we *have* put our spaghetti in a taco, a la iCarly.
And it was good. Different usually is.
Tomorrow? Lunchbox love.Pin ItAnti-Bullying month, bullying, children's book review, Christmas, iCarly, Santa, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun