Being Different

Being a father is one of the greatest things I have ever done, but at times it can be difficult and challenging.  This past weekend I had my 8yr old son for the weekend and we had a small episode/talk that reminded me of a similar episode I had when I was his age.  Flash back to about 1980.  My first grade class had been host to a student teacher named Miss Green, if I remember correctly.  She was a good teacher, if I remember correctly.  She was young and not bad to look at either.  After a few weeks or months (??), her time with us had expired and we threw her a little good bye party in class and continued on.  I remember playing after school at home with a friend and something had just set me off into a crying fit.  My mother came in to see what the problem was and to try to talk to me about it and for some reason I blurted out “Miss Green is gone.”  Even though I hadn’t even been thinking about it and it had nothing to do with what started to upset me.

A similar thing happened to my son as we were trying to go eat.  He was being a little punk about going to get something to eat and just wanted to stay home.  We got in the car and got to the resturant and getting out of the car he still had a “bad attitude”.  “Bad additude” was what my step dad called it when I was being a punk.  So I had to pull him aside and calmly tell him, “Hey, chill out.  Quit being a punk.  What’s your problem?”  Which then he broke down into a few tears and said, “Everyone thinks I’m different!  Everyone else got a 100 on their reading and I didn’t.”  I felt like I did when I was his age.  It threw my memory right back to that day I was so upset that Miss Green was gone.

His actual problem does concern me.  Children at his age (8) want to be accepted by their peers and be just like everyone else, but am I a believer that being different and unique is a good thing and sets yourself apart from the norm.  It’s a fine line to walk and to teach.  Explaining to a child that everyone is special and unique in their own way seems pretty simple, but getting them to really understand that can be difficult.  Growing up I always took people calling me weird as a compliment and I still do.  For younger kids it’s different.  It wasn’t until adolescence that I accepted my individuality and started to thrive on it.  I’m sure I had thoughts of “why can’t I be just like everyone else.”  I think every kid goes through that at some point.

I’m now learning that there are other things in the mix too and it will just take a little time and patience to understand what he is really going through.  It is truly heartbreaking to see your child honestly sad and to not be able to fix it right away and not living in the same household doesn’t make it any easier to be a better dad than I think I am.  Often I only try to find solutions to problems and being a parent, solutions aren’t always right there in front of you.   It just takes time, patience, love  and understanding.  While my child grows as a person, I have to try to remember that I am growing as a parent, always.

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