For example, he likes to make up words that, in fairness, are actually pretty apt. Like when he’s cold, he’ll say he’s “brrr-ing”, and he refers to his snap-button jeans as “snapper pants.” The other day, he made a new friend at the park and kept insisting his name was “Feen,” and then insisted his name was “Fate.” His name was Charlie.
He also sings to himself when he’s focused on a project and will drum his utensils on the dinner table during a meal, vocally going, “a-rat-a-tat-tat-tat a-rat-a-tat-tat.” When we’re at a restaurant, he disappears into his own world, people-watching as he nibbles on his grilled cheese, sometimes even sitting backwards in his chair to get a good view.
While my other son will engage you in earnest conversations about his day, his brother will often just zone out. If you ask what he’s thinking about, he’ll likely tell you some elaborate tale about the dragons who live in the shadow caves, and chase the wind over the hills. Clearly, he likes to disappear into his own head sometimes, lost in his own imagination, some vivid, colorfully-drawn world of his own design.
Apparently, my husband was the same way as a kid, and still is to this day. Like, he’ll suddenly start laughing to himself out of nowhere, and when you ask what he’s thinking about, it’s some random story from his sophomore year of college. My husband also made up names for things when he was a kid, calling a suitcase a “packer” and referring to people by their “knick-knack” names. During baseball games, he was the kid in the outfield who stared off into space while a ball went flying right past his glove. He was a kooky kid too.
And I have to say, I love this about my husband and I love it about my son. I love their goofiness and their uniqueness and their colorful imaginations. I can already tell that my son is going to be a storyteller, but with his own way of seeing the world. My other boy is totally silly himself, but it’s more your run-of-the-mill boyness, without the quirkiness. I love it all.
So, the other day, I bristled when a family member (who shall remain nameless) lovingly and affectionately said to my silly one, “You’re a weird kid.” She meant it in the most sweet, appreciative way, but “weird” gutted me, with all of its negative, mean-spirited connotations. It’s not a nice word. It’s not a nice thing to say. And I told her as much. She apologized immediately and promised to never use that word again, end of story.
But, it got me thinking: What’s wrong with being a “weird kid”? Aren’t all kids wonderfully weird, with their funny observations and unabashed enthusiasm and bold fashion choices? They’re these mini-humans who don’t want their food to touch and insist on sleeping with a rubber snake and think snowmen really come to life. They wear superhero capes over their pajamas, princess dresses over their jeans, underwear over their faces, but they refuse to wear pants. They dance off-beat and sing off-key, but they do it with style and abandon. Maybe some are more shy and some are more outgoing, some are perfect angels and some are wild, some are goofballs and some are more serious. Still, kids are, by definition, little weirdos. Perfect little weirdos. Amazing little weirdos.
And I don’t know about you, but I miss being weird. I miss the days where you could say whatever and do whatever and be whatever, without self-consciousness or self-reflection or filter. Isn’t that what’s so awesome about being a young kid? You just don’t give a crap.
So, yes, maybe “weird” is not a great word, but I embrace it. I embrace the “weird” in my kids, with their mismatched outfits and made-up songs and odd way of running. Sure, it’s because I love them just how they are, but I also just love their “weird.” It’s exactly who they’re supposed to be.
Are you OK with people calling your kid weird?