I sit back and watch you play. I've been doing that for as long as I remember. You used to sit in front of me with Woody and Buzz and act out adventures as if I wasn't even there. I'd watch you and laugh at your story lines, occasionally taking a video of your silly voices and phrases. Over the years, your imagination has grown and your adventures have, in some ways, become more realistic, but in other ways, even more outlandish. You used to tie a pillow case around your neck and jet through the house with one fist stretched out in front of you. Now you draw up plans and blue prints and supply lists on what you need to buy to make a real Iron Man suit : batteries, jet packs, metal, magnets, lights, robot wire.
Your father and I don't tell you those things aren't possible or real, just like we never told you Ninja Turtles weren't real. You'll figure those things out eventually. We let you take your imagination as far as it will go and as far as we can help you take it. So now our home is filled with cardboard boxes ripped apart and twisted in contraptions of what purpose I'm not even sure you know. There are Tupperware containers in your room filled with wires, buttons, springs, and switches that you pulled apart and dismantled from old toys and electronics. You know how to use a soldering iron and wire cutters and hot glue guns and we have to constantly remind you exactly why you can't just take the wire cutters to your room and cut things. You are brilliant and inventive and believe in big things and you're starting to realize that you're not like most kids.
They're starting to tell you that your ideas are stupid, that Ninja Turtles are fake, that Santa isn't real. When we get home from church or from playing with friends, you tell me things like, "So and so said that robots are stupid." I can see it in your eyes and by the expression on your face that you're starting to feel the cold heat of rejection ... of being different. You're not into what a lot of other kids are into and to top it all off, you're homeschooled. We're really stacking the odds against you, kid. But it's not just you!
Your little brother is the beefiest, stockiest kid I've ever known (besides your uncles - they were preschool linebackers), but he is sensitive and emotional and dramatic. You've seen him walking around the house with jewlery on, with your sister's shoes and headbands. He goes back and forth from pretending to be Batman, destroying the city and beating you up, to putting on a pink sparkly shoe, singing Let it Go and telling me, "You're so beautiful, mom. I love your hair." And just like we did with you, we let him pretend and play and pursue his interests. He loves color and flair. He memorizes songs and melodies and can rival Ariana Grande with his vocal runs. He is wild and unpredictable yet sweet and intuitive.
Your sister is only two, but she knows who she is. One day she wants to wear pink head to toe and the next she's putting on your clothes and your brother's shoes and refuses to change. She loves her baby dolls and she loves to play in the dirt. She's tough and can handle her own with the two of you. I hear her yelling, "Give that back to me NOW." And then silence, so I'm assuming she got what she needed. But she is also sweet and caring and will check on you when you're in trouble or hurt. She does her thing, just like you all do.
The point of all this is to tell you that the world has an idea of how kids are supposed to act and behave and what they should play with and what interests are "normal" and "age appropriate". There's a standard that someone made up, I'm not sure who, and anyone who doesn't stay directly on that line is either "above average" or below it. But you, kid... you're none of the above. Your dad and I don't let other people tell us who you should be, so you shouldn't either. We're not concerned about you being anything other than exactly who you are.
Normal does not exist. There is no such thing. It's make believe. If you're interested in things other kids are interested in, that doesn't make you normal. That doesn't make you anything. You aren't defined by what you like, what you learn, what you imagine, or what you watch. You're just you. But if normal is the standard, be weird. Be unapologetically, authentically, weird, if that's who you want to be. You don't have to bend and stretch to make other people feel comfortable. "Fitting in" is a lie. Nobody fits in. Everyone feels awkward and rejected. I hope you never feel like you have to change who you are to make other people like you. You don't need to blend in, kid. Stand out, build a robot, dance with your sparkly shoed little brother and baby doll carrying, basketball shorts wearing little sister. You'll get where you need to go and you'll do it your own way.
You dad and I will be behind you every single step, cheering you on, and indulging in whatever wildish idea you come up with next.