Last summer my daughter Annalyn rediscovered a pair of lab goggles that we’d used with a science experiment a couple years ago. At first she used them to protect her eyes in the shower, but quickly, she moved on to wearing them everywhere. Every.Where. It was adorable. And all I could think, was… stay weird.
One weekend we visited some family and a distant relative remarked, “You’d better break her of that before she goes to kindergarten.”
I looked at my sweet little girl – running around the yard, swinging a stick and pretending to be some sort of scientific superhero – and I immediately dismissed that annoying bit of advice. I wanted her to stay weird. Break my daughter of her imagination and spirit?
I think not.
Even though that conversation took place nearly a year ago – and the goggles have been once again relegated to the dress-up box – I haven’t been able to shake it. So today I have a few things to say to my daughter.
From the moment you were formed you have done the unexpected. From your surprising conception and your refusal to show us your gender during the sonogram to your determination to breathe and eat on your own after just a few days in the NICU (and weeks before you should’ve entered our world), you’ve forged your own path and generally done life your way.
And while at times your strong will and unique personality drives me straight up the wall, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Just like you tossed aside the chart of developmental milestones for your own timetable, you scoff at society’s expectations and silly things like generally accepted fashion standards.
Who cares about the color wheel when you can add one more blinged-out accessory? And who has time to sit still for braids and bows when you can shove a mismatched set of headbands on your head and call it good? And who doesn’t need to take a break from princess play to crawl under the dining room table with your toolkit? I mean, really, someone’s got to fix it – and Handy Manny isn’t showing up anytime soon!
You love pretty, pretty pink and princess everything, but you play doctor and carpenter and scientist just as often. It makes perfect sense for you to perform at a rock concert, complete a science experiment and create another craft project – all in one day.
And when you work on those craft projects? You chafe against the conventional advice to “stay in the lines,” but you can somehow use your safety scissors and glue stick to make a surprisingly realistic rocket ship.
I LOVE THESE THINGS ABOUT YOU.
Here’s the thing, Baby Girl. I’ve known since one of my psych classes in college (yes, that long ago) that I’m an extremely high self-monitor, while your dad is way down on the low end of that spectrum. In other words, I notice – and care – a whole lot about what other people are doing, thinking and feeling – while he, well, doesn’t.
In those moments when I’m nudging his leg under the table to remind him that we shouldn’t say or do THAT in front of THEM, and he responds by asking, loudly, “Why did you kick me?!” instead of adjusting his behavior or changing the topic, it puts me over the edge.
But in those moments when I see you, a miniature version of him in so many ways, stubbornly refuse to wear a hat LIKE EVERY OTHER STUDENT on Crazy Hat Day or choose to wear goggles to the farm or a tutu to the grocery store, well, it simply makes me fall in love with both of you even more.