Not every kid is going to be an athlete. Not every kid is going to be cool. Some kids seem out of place, like they don’t have a role or a place. Perhaps you remember your own childhood, not feeling like you fit in, not feeling like you were your parents’ model for what a kid should be.
Have you read (or read to your kids) the beautiful children’s book, Frederick? The book is about a group of mice working diligently to prepare for winter. Except for Frederick. He doesn’t fit in with what a typical mouse should be or do. And they resent him and judge him for it (to be fair, it doesn’t look like he’s much help around the farm…)
But in the dark, cold days of winter, Frederick suddenly pulls more than his weight. His beautiful poetry warms the souls of the mice. His evocations of the coming warmer days inspire them, entertain them, reassure them.
It’s a reminder to all of us—there are more ways to contribute in this world and in this life than the easiest, most obvious, most traditional ways. The ways that everyone else thinks to contribute. It might be easier to plug into the ‘system’, to shape yourself into a cog of the machine, but not everyone is built that way and they should not feel one bit ashamed of that.
Some of us are built to be artists (and even amongst the artists, some are built to be transgressive or misunderstood artists). Some of us are built to be solitary geniuses who come up with brilliant inventions. Some of us are built to be outsiders, coming in at key moments with different perspectives than everyone else. Some of us are late bloomers, some of us are made for select audiences. And some of us are still in the process of making ourselves into something.
And that’s wonderful. Just like your kids are wonderful…as they are. There are so many ways for them to contribute. But the best way they can contribute is by being who they were meant to be…and nothing else.