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When you (and your kids) are strange

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published March 6, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

For three straight days, Big Guy wouldn’t wear any shoes other than his soccer cleats at home. When we went out, he’d put a SpiderMan shoe on his left foot and a lace-up tennis shoe on his right. With his purple soccer socks.

And these people at the Wonder Time Web site think their kids are weird?

I wonder how many of them rush home to clean windows. Or live to vacuum. Or refuse to throw away a bubble-bath bottle – there are six guarding the tub right now.

Granted, there are some genuine strange agents among the Wonder Time set, too.

  • A 3-year-old who sleeps with a rolling pin.
  • A 4-year-old who wears only horizontal-striped shirts – at least they won’t make him look fat.
  • A kid who’s hung onto four Marshmallow Peep snowmen since Christmas 2006 – I knew there was nothing natural about that candy.
  • Siblings who take string cheese to bed – maybe they live in Green Bay, where it’s fashionable to be a cheese head.

Good for them. For in a world where it’s easier to fit in than to stand out, where even non-conformity becomes the norm after a while, these kids are daring to be different and their parents are letting them.

It’s a trait that will serve them well later in life.

I’ve always been a bit … well, let’s be charitable and call it quirky. How else do you explain our new lullaby, “Twinkle, twinkle little car, how did you get inside that jar?”

So I shouldn’t be surprised that the guys display definite weird tendencies. It’s your classic nature versus nurture question, and in a household where “goofball” is an endearment, the guys are victims of genetics and environment.

Some weirdness falls into the category of “the fight not worth having.” A mom on Wonder Time talked about a phase when her daughter would eat only round foods. Whole apples were OK; slices were not. Provolone cheese, acceptable; cheddar, rejected.

Big Guy went through the same thing when he was about 2, except everything had to look like worms. Green beans had to be French cut and spaghetti was acceptable, but heaven help me if the macaroni were “too fat.”

And I really didn’t care, as long as he ate. I’d be thrilled if he were still scarfing beans the way he used to devour the “geen urms.”

Other oddities I categorize as creativity. Everyone knows the cliché about kids and gift boxes. It’s true. We have a garage full of “clubhouses” that no one’s allowed to throw away because their paint jobs are too magnificent to part with. Little Guy has done his bubble-bath bottle routine every night for nearly a year, filling and dumping bottles, cups and bowls repeatedly. “Making coppee,” he’ll say. I figure in a few more months he’ll be able to get the morning brew started – he already wakes up before I do.

None of that, though, is why I value virtually any nonconformity. I treasure the free spirit because of the strength in strangeness. If Little Guy can hear Mommy goof up and sing about twinkling cars, maybe he’ll grow up free of the idea that it’s the end of the world when you screw up and instead have the courage to try when he’s not sure.

If Big Guy has the guts now to march around looking like a total two-shoed dork, maybe he’ll be brave enough in 20 years to say, “You’ve been drinking, and I’m not getting in that car with you.”

Eventually, they’ll belong more to the world than me, and there will come a time when Mom’s strange ideas about strange are, well, goofy.

But if I can somehow embed the notion that the pack isn’t always right and it’s OK to stand out, then I’ve done my job.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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