Slice of Life Challenge day 15 #sol17

Something my daughter said yesterday struck a chord…

Title: “Weird”

I remember a time when ‘weird’ was one of my favorite words as a kid. “Weird, weird, weird.”  I said it all the time.  Perhaps it’s one of those words that helps define us.  Kind of like, “I’m not that, I’m this.” One of my favorite authors once wrote about how stars are only bright due to the darkness that surrounds them. Something like that.

As I turned the car on to snowy Highway 341 toward Kent, I glanced in the rearview mirror.  “You girls must be excited to spend some of your Spring Break with your friends today?” I spoke to the mirror.

“I can’t wait until Spring Break is over!” chirped my kindergartener.  Always the unexpected with this one.

“Oh yeah, why is that, honey?” I queried.

“When I get back to school we’re getting a new person in our class!” Lexi’s face was alight with joy, and I detected a marked lack of sarcasm in her voice.  These sentiments were absolutely, 100 percent sincere.

“Do you know her name?” I recalled discussing this once before and was fairly certain the new arrival in her class would be a girl.

In the mirror, I watched Lexi shake her head.  Then suddenly my second grader, Livi, piped up from Lexi’s right, “I heard there was a new girl in the school named ‘Joshi.’ Joshi! That name is so weird!” An innocent giggle escaped Livi’s lips, her eyes aglow with amusement.  Although not a trace of malice or malintent was present in Livi’s words, I frowned.  She’d struck a chord.

“Honey, there are no ‘weird’ names,” I calmly stated.  “Only names we’re not used to.” Wait, where did that line come from?  I must admit, I kind of shocked myself when I said it. Perhaps growing up with a ‘weird’ or unusual name had helped grow an internal sensitivity and defensiveness when hearing such words.  Lord knows I had heard versions of that backhanded insult of ‘weirdness’ aimed at me a few times over my lifetime.  Or maybe Livi’s comment had struck the built-in ‘raise-your-kids-to-be-kind’ mechanism that triggers my instant parental correction button.

Whatever the reason for my response, my mind suddenly flashed back to the classrooms in which I used to teach.  I superimposed the sentiment I had just voiced aloud on some of the behaviors I witnessed in my classrooms many years ago…what if those behaviors weren’t ‘weird,’ but just ones I just wasn’t used to?

Reflecting back on this little slice of my life yesterday, I believe my message to my children had been to remain open.  Be accepting.  We are all different.  And being ‘different’ doesn’t make us ‘weird.’ It makes us human.

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Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on Twitter @LannyBall, as well as his literacy blog: lannyball.com or lannyball.blog.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 15 #sol17”

  1. I love when our kids remind us of the important things! Looking back, I have situations I would have handled very differently because things get less “weird” with experience. That’s the beauty of this job: always something new to learn!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kids always pick up on the weird (I remember loving the word as well). I think it’s so important to balance the recognition of things that are different with the respect that those ‘different’ things deserve. I think you make a good point – that recognizing and treating the “different” with respect is an important precedent that we set.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember claiming “weird” for myself. For a while I was fiercely proud of it. Maybe it was a shield against other who might wield the word in less kind ways.

    Lanny, thanks for a glimpse of your girls in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This. This says it all: “Be accepting. We are all different. And being ‘different’ doesn’t make us ‘weird.’ It makes us human.” Those words would be perfect in a Todd Parr book with all those crazy colors! Thanks for this little peek into your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What struck me is how excited your daughter was to have a newby in her classroom. Kids are so willing to accept someone new. I wonder what age we change from “everyone is a friend” to meeting someone new with a bit of cautiousness. With that said, I loved your response to the weird word and may quote you someday when I need it.

    Liked by 1 person

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