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Monday, February 20, 2012

Different is Better


Sometimes, different is better.

I’ve always believed that, even in high school when I didn’t act like it. I had to have the “right” stuff, no matter how absurd. I had to have that silly purse with the wooden handles and changeable covers - Bermuda Bag, turns out it was called - even if it was too small to hold much of anything and hard to carry with a stack of books. I thought I had to measure up outwardly, or no one would care about anything else. When I left for college I learned that Mr. Rogers was right all along: people can like you just the way you are.

And now look at me: I carry an over-sized fanny pack over one shoulder as a purse. I drive the speed limit and stop for yellow lights. I don’t color my gray. I choose comfort over style. This is me. And folks just need to be okay with that.

My firstborn didn’t talk until she was two, but I knew she was above-average smart; she’d talk when she had something to say.

I protected her from criticism and speculation, and a gifted speech therapist taught her sign language. In about a month she was speaking complete sentences. (Turned out she was waiting until she could do it perfectly, a pattern in her life.)

I totally get it when my 9-year-old simply cannot wear a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt to school. And if a skirt’s the “wrong” length, enough said. And surprisingly, I get very little of that.

Sometimes, different is better. I say it. I believe it. And I’ll keep saying it until they own it themselves.

  
Contributed by Elaine Jack, Assistant Editor, Today's Family magazine.

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