Friday, May 19, 2006

Soapbox

Today I met up with my sister and two of my cousins. We had dinner together. During this dinner a subject came up that is dear to my heart. Now I will be the first to admit that I like to argue and I like to be right. I get this from my father. I try to control it and not play devil's advocate too often. And in fairness to myself I am often right. I try to think before I speak.
Anyway. My sister's older child has troubles. He is very bright and loves to read. His vocabulary is advanced for his years but his social skills are lacking. He does not see when his opinions and pronouncements are not welcomed. He gets beaten up as a result. My cousin Mark said that he should be taught how to get along, how to conform. I swear he used that word. That's when I got on my soapbox. (I have a portable one, ready to be taken out at any moment.) I said that you should never give up yourself and change yourself for others. I said that with time my nephew would learn how to be more diplomatic and more aware of how other's felt but he's only 11. He has to mature. My cousin said life would be easier if he learned to get along. I said that it was true life would suck for a while but he would be glad later. My cousin said, who would know if you behaved differently in the group? I said, I would. I said that I had to look at myself in the mirror every day and that although a lot of school had sucked for me I was so glad I hadn't tried to fit in. The argument ended there. They laughed and said I was my father's daughter. I tried to say that this was serious to me but it was over. They couldn't see what I meant. Mark in particular. He kept insisting it would be easier to learn to fit in.
Now this is from a man who stayed in the closet until he was 50. He worked in a corporate world and thought that would be better. Yes, he has made a lot of money and he retired at 51 but what did he lose? Who did he miss along the way? What could he have done and been if he had accepted himself and been true to that? There were places he could have worked that would have accepted him. I think he just couldn't accept it.
I found on the way home that I was truly upset. In today's world there is sooo much pressure to conform, to be like everyone else. Kids who don't fit in get medicated. Adults medicate themselves. Any deviation from the norm is anathema. Individuality and imagination are disappearing. Where will we be if people cannot think outside the norm? Do you feel different? Treasure the feeling. Hold it to your heart like the truly precious thing it is. And if your kids are different, celebrate them, encourage them to be all they are.

2 comments:

NeedleTart said...

I used to work in a support classroom and one of my firmly held beliefs is that each child has a special gift that no one else has and my job was to help them find it. Keep the individuality (but worry about that "getting beaten up" thing. Does your local school have an anti-bullying program?).

Delphi said...

It's my sister's kid, but I don't think they have such a program. And the teachers seem to be harder on the kids who get bullied then on the bullies themselves. Sad and wrong but I suppose it is a taste of the real world. I don't think he gets badly hurt. I think it is mostly an injury to his dignity and his pride. Plus he doesn't really understand what the problem is. He doesn't read people very well. He seems to be doing better though. He has a tutor kind of person who he gets along with so he does have a friend.