I did. I felt different. And sometimes I felt lonely.
You know what's crazy? As I talk to fellow adults now, I realize that many (maybe even most?) of us felt socially awkward as we grew up. And if lots and lots of us felt that way, I guess we really weren't as "different" as we thought we were.
But the fact remains, it's hard when you don't feel like you fit in. I have so badly wanted to protect my kids from that feeling. I want them to naturally make friends. I want them to be well-liked.
I don't want my kid to be too hyper, or too awkward, or too intense, so that another child rolls their eyes and pulls away. It hurts me when I see one of my little ones, flesh of my flesh, struggling to fit in.
But there are some truths I'm learning, and I need to remind myself of them. Frequently. Here they are:
- It's okay to be different. It's okay to not be liked by everyone. I'm just now learning this as an adult, and I'd love for my kids to learn it earlier.
- If my kids are finding other children they do relate to, I probably shouldn't be so concerned. They don't have to be the most popular kids on the block as long as they have some good friends they can count on.
- Many of us have to learn how to be social. It doesn't always come naturally. It certainly didn't for me--but as I grew, I learned it! Sometimes I still feel socially insecure. Most of us do. But in general, as an adult, I feel good about who I am, and about my ability to relate to others. If I can learn it, my kids can too. It's okay for them to stumble along the way--it's called trial and error!
Chickie has to work hard to understand math concepts. Sometimes it's really hard for her, but I know that it's okay.
See, my kids have plenty of talents; they just don't have every talent.
When I look at a child who is a natural swimmer, I don't expect Zoodle to be like that. And when I see kids who are math whizzes, I don't expect Chickie to learn that quickly.
So when I see kids who are naturally social butterflies, why should I expect my kids to "measure up"?
Socializing is a learned skill, just like swimming or math! And some kids get it more easily than others! But that doesn't mean there's something wrong with one of my kids if he or she has to work harder at it.
So I want to accept my kids just as they are. If I see some social awkwardness here or there, I don't want to panic. I want my kids to feel totally accepted by me (even if they are acting "different") so they can be confident enough to just be themselves around their peers.
This one is hard for me, but, like my kids...I'm learning.