I'm not sure exactly where to go with this post - but - it's on my mind as of late, so I'll just dive right in. Forgive me if it's not clearly written. I don't know how the words are going to come out.
We all have labels. Or give labels. Some are cute and funny and loving. Others are not - they can be rude, or crude, or just plain hateful. I've had a few labels in my day - and probably apply a few of them to myself still at times - either out loud, or deep on the inside. And I probably believe more of them are true than I should.
I was the weird kid. I have smart parents. I have smart siblings. I've had a weird brain defect as far as I can remember that gives me the ability to remember smells, and sounds, and think in colors, and work problems (and write cursive) backwards, and I probably remember what you wore the first time we met. Weird, right? But you know what, it's what makes me - well - it makes me me.
I'm a child of privilege. I was born in 1975. My dad is an engineer. I'm the youngest of 3 kids. We had a computer in the house when I was in preschool. I remember programming "guess a number / higher / lower" games in Kindergarten. I remember rote memorizing syntax and programming my own fun games in early primary school and learning language after language as I grew older. When I first learned about modems - man - my whole life changed. I became rather obsessed and - forgive me for sounding arrogant - I became REALLY GOOD at this whole computer thing. Not all of my efforts were positive - I have had my share of run-ins with Mr. Long Arm of the Law. I'm now 37 and a technology consultant and a tech blogger and design architect and am still rather atypical in my use of computers. I joke that I can route IP to the moon - and someday I may try that. I have lots of ideas.
In the Spring of my 3rd grade year I won a high-school chess tournament. The trophies were for the "big kids" so I got a small plaque. Hooray. I was nationally ranked in High School and played a blind kid who DESTROYED me. He was pretty amazing. After High School I had some pretty amazing opportunities to work and travel. I was 22 when I finally went to Purdue to start college. I excelled and graduated at the top of my class. Then grad school and Seminary. Again, toward the top of my class. I am driven and probably a bit over-educated. Atypical.
It's been whispered (and yelled at times) in my ears that I'm not normal.
Why am I thinking of this? It's because my kids are getting older... and I'm seeing things...
And I worry about them being atypical. I want so bad for them to skin their knees, and eat dirt, and play sports, and get disappointed, and learn to bounce back. I want them to have highs and lows and be "normal" kids. But, I don't know how to be normal myself - how can I help my kids be normal?
For example - my oldest, Nathan - he's a pretty special boy. We've known since he was very small that he was atypical. His brain is different. He has similar memory to me. He's intelligent. He is also extremely emotional and needy. He is 7 - he is in 3rd grade - he is at the top of his class - but he cannot tie his shoes. He can barely zip up his coat. But he can do other atypical things that most "normal" 3rd graders cannot do. He just recently passed the AP - Advanced Placement - exams at his school - and now we have to make some choices. Do we send a kid who is already 1 year to a year and a half younger than his classmates to AP? He's already young and atypical. Now do we add another label and level of that?
I remember sitting in a small group of guys a few years ago. We were discussing man-hood and dad-hood and all those things that make men - men. Part of an exercise we did was sit in a circle - eyes closed - and people would come behind us and whisper things in our ears like: You are not good enough. You'll never make it. You're so dumb. And then we processed the "whispers" and emotional response. Then we did it again and heard other things like: You're so smart. You are a great dad. You provide so well for your family. And process that. It's amazing how much small little "whispers" in your ears can affect your emotions.
Why is that important? Because I find myself whispering - and yelling - at my kids. And I'm afraid I'm breaking them. And I don't want to crush what makes them different - and unique - and atypical. But I also want them to be normal.
I'm a mess and I don't know how to do next. Any chance any of you smart people out there have any brilliant ideas? Or am I just simply overthinking and overprocessing it?