Why I told my children they were weird

Yes, I told my child she was weird. I am a dad. Dads in this day and age can't afford to be politically correct. We have a job to do.

Why I told my children they were weird

Yes, I told my child she was weird. I am a dad. Dads in this day and age can't afford to be politically correct. We have a job to do.
  • I didn't come out and say it. I'm not that kind of dad.

  • I primed my children for their being dissimilar at an early age. I used the tactic that different has an equal chance at being excellent.

  • I didn't do this on a whim. It was clear to me from an early age that my children were not normal, and I know the signs. I come from a long line of not-normal.

  • We are not Disney. We passed Disney on our way to Dr. Seuss, took a left at T.S. Elliot and parked between Silvia Plath and the road not taken.

  • I've heard all the pithy adages: "There is no normal," "Strange is the new normal," "We make our own normal." Those are cute and clever sayings that fit nicely on a refrigerator magnet or on Instagram with a photo of a kitten in a charmingly awkward position. They do not apply outside of the Facebook milieu, however.

  • I wasn't concerned about being politically correct, and I still don't much care for the term. I am a dad. Dads in this day and age can't afford to be politically correct. We have a job to do.

  • It was obvious to anyone with eyelashes that my children were not going to find a place to fit in and be successful on a planet of other humans unless I pulled a few strings. And I had very few strings to choose from.

  • (And as much as we parents are trying to change things up by making nerds fit in, or reading cool, or fuzzy lime green socks acceptable, there is still a noticeable difference between a petite blond with high cheekbones and my fun-sized daughter who once tried for a week to sleep standing up.)

  • Fortunately, my kids have the right mom and dad for what ails them. We are all odd ducks of the same different feather.

  • This is what we did

  • We started off with my wife, who would say something in an unusual way or use clever conjugation in passing conversation. I would then say, "Well, that's sorta weird. I like it."

  • We made sure that "weird" situations happened with increasing frequency. "That was a weird commercial" I would say during the Super Bowl. "I like it."

  • Once we had established that there were distinct categories to be made — or noticeable, obvious divisions in the system — we took them to the next level.

  • I might not have been able to pull it off on my own. Fortunately, my wife was on the same page. "That talk was weird," I would say out loud in the car coming home from church.

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  • "What was weird about it?" my wife would reply. I would then be required to articulate what I had seen, or heard, or felt.

  • "Well, they usually start off a talk in church with a joke, but he...

  • Or,"She wore something that none of the others did."

  • Or,"It was funny because she made the choice to..."

  • Using the W-word

  • That's how I got the "weird" ball rolling. My children started to equate the word with things that were unexpected, not alike, individual or a recent word favorite trending with the youth — divergent. Being different was not necessarily bad or good. It could be judged on its own merit.

  • I knew I had been somewhat successful when I heard back from one of my kids. I wore a brightly colored shirt to work for some silly reason that I can't remember, and she commented:

  • "That is one weird shirt." I stared at her with raised eyebrows.

  • "It has much more color and pattern than most of the others you wear to work. It is distinct." I continued to stare at her.

  • "I like it!" she pronounced.

  • Now, I am not a proponent of doing something for the sole reason of standing out or calling attention to oneself, which is ironic because I can be a little self-centered in my weirdness. Neither do I generally advocate that people assimilate in order to minimize their individual footprint or to be considered "one of the group."

  • My use of the w-word was a choice I made to show my children we all get to make decisions about who we are and how we show our love.

  • I want my kids to belong wherever they choose to be, with anyone they choose to be with, wearing whatever they choose. I want them to have the option to be... anything. Everything they want to be.

  • Dissimilar, un-alike, contrasting, divergent, differing, varying, distinct, separate, individual.

  • My kids are a little weird. I like that.

Davison Cheney attended a university to became proficient in music and theater, preparing him to be unemployed and to over-react. Check out his blog


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