Thursday, May 17, 2012
Why *can't* my child be different?
Quite possibly the biggest heartache in parenting is when people don't treat your child with respect. And right now my heart is quite achy.
Without going into great detail, my son is being picked on by some of his peers. And I'm pretty sure know why.
Its because he's different.
We live in a community that, like most communities, values sports as the pinnacle of....well, pretty much everything. However, my son isn't athletic. None of us in this family are. We don't like to kick soccer balls or throw footballs. We just don't. We lack both the desire and the coordination. (Save my 7 year old daughter who is involved in dance and practices her little butt off.) We'll occasionally go swimming or hiking in the summer, but organized sports just aren't our thing.
My son prefers to draw, write, read, act, play the drums, sing, and create. My son has a boundless imagination! Just about every year he gets cast as the main role in their class play(s) because he can act out just about anything with confidence, enthusiasm, and ease. He got chosen for honor choir because he can sing. He got chosen to play the drums by his music teacher because he has a God-given gift for it. (Trust me, that's what it is, because I've been musical my whole life but I stink at playing the drums!) My kid is very talented! Just not in the way society deems "normal" or "cool" for a 10 year old boy.
I was also watching an episode of Dance Moms Miami earlier today . (Yes, I know its totally trashy TV, but being a dance mom myself - though not a psycho one, thankfully - I am really sucked in to it.) There is a little boy on there who is a phenomenal dancer, yet gets picked on by other kids at school, being teased and called gay. Since when did dancing "make" a young boy gay? That kid is going to go far in dance and in life, that is evident. Just not to his more "normal" classmates. And that's sad.
When did organized sports become the end-all-be-all compass by which kids judge eachother's talent and worth? Talent and worth extend far beyond a football field! Not everyone is wired the same way, and that's the way God made us and intended us to be! When was it decided, and by whom, that being different is bad or wrong? So what if my kid wants to play the drums? Or sing. Or act. Or dance. Or....anything! Who cares what my kid does? He's really talented, just not in the things that our society places worth on. And again, that's sad.
It just burns me up as a parent that these stupid judgments and intolerances continue to be passed down from generation to generation to generation to generation to... You get my point. We speak of this "tolerant day and age" we live in, but let's face it, we're no more evolved in our thinking than our great-grands were! In order to have tolerance and respect, parents have to teach it to their kids.
I think part of the problem is that our society still has a "macheesmo complex" when it comes to boys. Girls are allowed by society to get their hands dirty, work on machinery, change the oil in a car, clean a carburetor... But a boy taking dance classes? Ohhhh no....that's not happening!
Put the stinkin' macheesmo aside and let your boy take dance classes! What is the harm? Really, truly, what is the harm? I highly doubt anyone can give me a good answer to that question.
I'd also like to point out that the people who are most remembered throughout history are not the sports heroes (in fact, not a single name popped up in my google search for pre-1800's athletes) - they're the artsy-fartsy "weirdos!" The people who've left a big impression on this world have been the creative types, the innovators, the artists, the scientists, the dancers, the singers, the composers, the authors, the poets, the actors... Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, George Friedrich Handel, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Tchaikovsy, Mozart, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Steve Jobs, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway.... To name a few of thousands.
So, why can't my child be different? Why can't he just be who he is, with his own, unique talents, strengths, and interests, and be respected for it? Why does he have to fit the "norm?" Who decided that not being part of the "norm" makes him less worthy of their friendship and respect?
Fellow parents, would it kill you to teach your kids to respect others? Would it kill you to teach your kids that differences are to be celebrated and not ridiculed? Would it kill you to teach your kids that there's a reason we've all been created differently? Would it kill you to teach your kids that interests other than their own are still important, valuable, and interesting?
I respect you and your kid(s), so respect me and mine, and teach your kids to do so as well. That's all I ask.
What makes *you* different an unique? How have you handled the societal fall-out? I'd love to know!