Your children are not your children
As they say in "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues:" Ha ha ho ho and hee hee.
As Mermaid Girl's friend Hermione's mom said yesterday, while our two confident, socially-savvy, pop-culture-saturated offspring cavorted on a playdate*: "I've given birth to the girl who beat me up in sixth grade."
As Khalil Gibran said: "Your children are not your children, they are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself...you can house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams." Somehow I don't think an obsession with Dlsney Pr1ncess und3rpants is what he had in mind, but okay.
Don't get me wrong: My kid, despite occasional imperious tendencies, is a mensch. She's kind to babies and toddlers, eager to help out at home and do good in the world, sensitive to injustice everywhere. But she is an Alpha Girl; there's no way around it. More likely to be the picker-on than the picked-on. And this is a puzzle to RW and me.
It's not that I want my kid to be unpopular or bullied, of course not, I want her to be happy and loved and surrounded by flowers and butterflies everywhere she goes, but if she were bullied, I'd know how to help her deal with it, how to help her love herself in all her oddness and uniqueness. We're a culture of nerdiness in this family: we're both nerds, our parents were nerds before us, my brother is a nerd who married a nerd. Thank God Mermaid Girl has her Uncle Skaterboy to support her in the coolness thing, because aside from the general goal of teaching her to Use her Powers for Good, we're stymied.
Mermaid Girl's friend Ginger is a sweet, unworldly nerd with nerd parents, and I admit I'm a little jealous of them. Ginger's mom and I were discussing this the other day at one of the endless Kindergarten-related events we've both been going to. She was telling a story about a friend of hers who's all freaked out because his daughter is the most popular kid in her class.
"Yeah," I found myself saying, "I keep thinking, maybe Mermaid Girl will learn compassion from other kids thinking it's weird that her parents are gay...but then, this is Seattle! *snapping fingers in frustration* No one's going to give her any grief about it."
I was being flip, of course: if anyone does give our girl the tiniest hard time about her family, RW and I will be all over it. And seriously, I hope and believe that she can become a compassionate person without being a victim herself. We just have to work on the specifics as they come up. So far, we do pretty well: we limit her exposure to television, we won't buy her B4rbie or D1sney things (though we let her keep the ones that come as gifts), we and her teachers talk ad nauseum about, and try to exemplify, kindness and thinking about how other people feel.
Maybe we can get together with Hermione's parents and start a support group: Nerd Parents of Alpha Kids; N-PAK for short. Sort of like P-FLAG. But different. Anyone want to join?
*I swore I'd never use this word, I hate this word with its connotations of four-year-olds carrying palm pilots, but here I am, doing one more thing I promised myself I'd never do. There's just no other way to say "visit over at another kid's house" concisely so it flows into a sentence.