Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Weird Kid

As you've probably gathered by now, I think Small One is pretty spectacular. Smart, funny, and charming, she's also pretty easygoing and well-mannered. School is a breeze for her, because she is also a rules follower, which makes her easy for her teachers to manage. She's also a pretty entertaining student- in fact, most adults find her a really enjoyable child. Recently, however, she's had a complaint about school, and it has to do with her interaction with her peers. She's begun referring to herself as "the weird kid".

She can't explain this to me, she doesn't know why she doesn't feel like she fits in, she just knows she feels like a misfit. I totally "get" this, as I've felt this way most of my life, and I remember feeling completely out of place in elementary school. When I look at her objectively, I can identify these particular items that might set her apart from her fellow first graders:
  • She's a stand up comedian. For the second year in a row, she's picked comedy as her talent show act, asking her father to participate. She's been extremely instrumental in the writing of their material: we help her, but she is a really active participant in the process, vetoing certain lines and making up her own jokes as we go along. When she auditioned this year, the judges expressed amazement at her ability to memorize such a long piece, and I wanted to tell them that it wasn't such a big deal, as she'd single-handedly written about half of it. 
  • She has wanted to be a movie director since she was about three years old. Even before she understood the term "director" she's known that she did not want to be a person in the movies, but rather a person making the movies. To that end, she spends hours constructing elaborate "movies"...this is to say, she sets up all her toy animals in different scenes, creating various scenarios for them to enact. Her "movies" have titles like "Duckland" and "Pink Poodle Land". Unfortunately, her storytelling skills are not yet honed, and when she tries to retell these tales, they are the longest, most rambling epic tales of toy animals that I have ever attempted to hear. So when she comes home from school and tells me that no one will let her tell them about Duckland, I have to say that I fully come down on the side of the other kids. 
  • She is the bossiest of all the bossypants. No joke. Perhaps because she is a pseudo-only child, with siblings who both left the house before she was 6, she has a bit of the Red Queen in her; this is to say that all ways are her ways, according to her. I suspect this leads to difficulty in making friends. It also probably does not endear her to her classmates that she tends to apologize to her teacher for their behavior, if they are not falling into line the way she thinks they should.
  • She speaks like an adult. Adults find this pretty hilarious, especially since she is small for her age, but I think it adds to her weird kid reputation among her peers. Here's an example of the way she expresses herself: riding Space Mountain, she was terrified.Was she crying? Nope.

    She was yelling "I wish I hadn't agreed to this!"
  • She prefers animals to people. This, I think, probably also adds to her weird kid reputation. She doesn't play with dolls, she plays with toy animals. At Disney, she cared nothing for meeting the princesses, but stood in line to have her picture taken with an Aristocat. Given a choice between playing with the neighbor girls or playing in the back yard with the dogs, she'll often pick the dogs. I don't know why this is, but I will wager it adds to the label.
  • She's not a joiner. I remember a birthday party for a friend a couple of years ago, with a superhero theme. The grandmother of the birthday girl had made capes for all the kids, and there was a party person there, tasked with leading all of them in fun activities that had them zooming all around the house and yard. Except Small- she was not involved in any of it. She still has the cape, she zooms around our yard in it: solo. When it was time to participate, she wasn't having it. This goes for singalongs, dance parties, audience participation, and so on. For another Disney example: we went to an audience-participation heavy Beauty and the Beast attraction. She had no interest in any of it, including the part where little girls went up to have their pictures taken with Belle...until she realized they were offering bookmarks. She still didn't meet Belle, but she waited until after the show and requested a bookmark anyway.

The bottom line is this: I wish I knew how to help, but I don't. I've tried to tell her that one day she'll meet "her people", and it will all feel better. I've discussed the situation with my older kids, and the consensus is, as MC so eloquently put it, I "only know how to raise weird kids". She may have a point. Sometime soon, she'll move into gifted classes at her school, where I hope she'll meet other kids just as "weird" as she is. Right now, being socially awkward makes her want to stop going to school and be home-schooled. I don't think that's a good enough reason to home school.

So how about you, readers? Are you raising weird kids, or are yours perfectly normal? Is there such a thing as perfectly normal? Does anyone not feel socially awkward in grade school?


Lissa Johnston said...

Reminds me of a couple of my own anecdotes when I was a child. Now I understand that I am an introvert. Totally not into group activities. Nothing 'weird' about it, just how we're wired.

amy said...

Thanks for your comment, Lissa! For the record, the "weird" label is her own, I don't think she's weird. =)
(Except in a good way!)