Last week my daughter turned 5. It was strange and wonderful, sort of like her. It’s hard to believe that she was ever as small as her younger brother, especially since the past year has seen her grow so much physically and mentally. She’s reading, taking dance classes, and she’s basically a skinny pair of legs with a blone ponytail.
Something else has been dancing around in my mind the past week that is upsetting–Lili is the weird kid. We’ve had hints of it for months in passing things she says. She is confident, rambunctious, and sometimes too aggressive. In essence, not what little girls are supposed to be. Her clothes, although clean, usually knees that are faded from her active life-style. She rarely wears bows and if she does, they’re crooked.
But it’s more than simple tomboy stuff. She says stuff in passing that the other kids (boys and girls) call her crazy. Her teachers praise her imagination, but I have watched her interact with little kids who seem overwhelmed by the wild worlds she’s creating for them to play in. Sometimes, those kids just give themselves over and join Lili in her creations. Then it’s wonderful to observe. Unfortunately, I also see the times when kids run away from her, ignore her, or call her crazy or weird.
Early this summer my husband and I had a serious talk about Lili. Our daughter is very bright. I am not bragging–I think most people who know her would agree. The danger is that her intelligence and spunk must be treated carefully on our part: while she is capable of flourishing under the right circumstances, like an energetic puppy, she can become destructive if we don’t cultivate her in a positive way. There is a fine line that we must walk with her that involves challenging her, inspiring her, and teaching her discipline. This task, for me at least, is all the more daunting in that we have to help her maintain her individuality and spirit while helping her avoid the loneliness of being ostracized.
I’m proud of my weird kid. I just hope the world can be too.