Friday, April 22, 2011
April 22, 2011 ~ Day 134
The Nerd Family
This morning as I helped my oldest son get ready for school he asked me if there were going to be "only grownups" or "also kids" at his tap dancing recital which takes place tomorrow at a local theater.
"Probably a mix of both, buddy," I responded, "Our family will be there including your brother and sister, your uncles and your grandparents. So that would be both adults and kids."
Then, recognizing a look of consternation on his face I asked, "Why?"
"If there are kids there who watch me dance, they are going to think I am a nerd."
"Why do you say that honey?"
"They think I'm going to be doing BALLET or something."
"Well what would be wrong with that? Ballet is cool! And anyway, who are 'they'?"
He did not answer.
"Are you talking about kids from your school?" I asked. "Do kids from your school say things about your dancing?"
Thankfully he was straightforward. "Yes." He looked up at me. "Tim* and Felix* say that dancing is for nerds."
"Well honey," I took a deep breath. "I think that's great! We ARE Nerds. Our entire family: just a bunch of happy, successful nerds. I'm a nerd! Your dad is a nerd! We're all smart and dorky and funny and cool. We're totally nerds, and we love you like crazy. You are one of us!
Don't ever be ashamed of being who you are. It's awesome to be a nerd. In fact, a lot of times the kids that other people call 'nerds' are the ones who end up living amazing, extraordinary lives. Some day you may be accepting a huge award for your dancing and those boys who tease you right now will be jealous that you get to dance with all of the prettiest ladies."
"You're a NERD, mommy?" he asked, sounding more amused and less anxious.
"Oh boy, yes. I'm the biggest nerd ever. And your dad too! Just ask him."
We called his father into the room.
"Honey," I explained. "Our son tells me that he is being teased for his dancing and being called a nerd. I told him that we're ALL nerds here and proud of it. What do you think?"
"Definitely!" answered his dad. "Son, it's a great thing to be a nerd. I'm a huge nerd just like your mommy... I like computers and bicycles and all sorts of geeky things. I love my life and I'm happy just the way I am. Being a nerd is cool!"
By this point, our son was laughing and putting his shoes on for school.
"So we're all nerds?"
"Absolutely," we smiled. "We can't wait to see you dance on stage tomorrow. We're going to film the whole thing with our video camera. We'll be cheering for you the whole time. We're excited!"
Later in the morning, after my husband and son had left the house for work and school, I had the chance to reflect a little on what it is like to be a unique kid that doesn't fit easily into any box.
It's true what we told him: my husband and I *were* both huge nerds growing up. We both got made fun of over the course of many years for being too smart, too skinny, too awkward. We both went through an ugly duckling phase before losing the gawkiness and becoming comfortable within our own skin. This is something we recognized in each other when we first got together - a kindred spirit.
I think my husband is incredibly attractive and (kindly) he manages to think the same of me, but both of us had years of dating mishaps ~ often feeling quite undesired by the people we most yearned to be with. I keenly remember how frustrated I was with my own brain, wishing desperately to be "normal" like other girls. Just wanting to go on dates, have a boyfriend, party with my friends, have a life. Wondering how to speak differently so that I didn't scare people off, wondering how to pretend that I wasn't smart.
I hated being a nerd growing up, which is funny because now that I am 35 and losing some of my mental sharpness due to the aging process and my lyme disease induced brain fog, I really miss it.
I blend into the world just fine now, just another middle aged mommy with wrinkled clothes and wrinkling skin... and I miss the intense clarity that I once felt about everything. My mind used to slice through information like a sushi knife... now it sort of mushes its way forward like a potato masher.
From the vantage point of time, being a nerd has come to look like a really special and wonderful thing.
I'm so proud that I have a son who is 'different'. He is so creative, musical, artistic, sensitive. He reminds me very much of my own family of origin ~ with a few twists that are uniquely his own. I love that he is unabashedly himself, and I will do anything in my power not to let his spirit get quashed by a couple of "normal" hoodlums who don't understand him the way that we do.
All three of our children are bound to be big nerds... because look where they've sprung from! The fruit doesn't fall too far from its vine, and our babies are blessed and cursed in equal measure to be so similar to their parents.
I think it is a gift though that they have fallen into (or chosen?) a family that celebrates traits that are different.
My husband and I believe that the best way to help our children get through the painful jibes and bullying of childhood and adolescence is to help them OWN who they are. OWN IT and LOVE IT. In the end, all anyone wants (including bullies) is to be accepted and celebrated for who they are.
To my children, when you read this some day for yourselves - the meaning of today's post is clear. Nerds, dorks and geeks ~ all around the world ~ do amazing things every single day. YES, WE ARE NERDS - AND THAT'S AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a wonderful thing to be unique. Just hang in there and one day you'll wake up and feel genuinely glad that you weren't cut in the exact same shape as everyone else you know.
Those odd curves and rough edges that make you different from the rest of the world are also what make you truly special.
Your Nerd family loves you!
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the people in question