When did Different become a dirty word?

After speaking with my 11 year old son’s teacher this week I am frustrated. Let me begin by saying my children are individuals and this seems to be something we need to fix. If we must place labels on our children I am not sure which label fits? My boy is not a jock, he enjoys reading immensely, video games, imaginative play, building with lego—you get the picture. Some might say a normal 11 year old boy, some might say he is quirky. Are there any parts of his personality to be worried about? I don’t believe so, E. is sensitive, empathetic, intelligent and ambitious and of course can get on my last nerve at times. Is my child rambunctious, loud in the classroom or content being the center of attention? My answer would be no, well not in the classroom anyways. At school, we have always instilled into our children that teachers are to be respected and not to be disrespectful to others. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not have perfect children but overall my son is a good student.

When meeting with his teacher, the only negatives brought up were his serious manner and some areas in printing that could use some improvement. My frustration was a result of asking the teacher if everything was going well, since E. had requested to stay home more than usual this month. No, nothing out of the ordinary to report says the teacher, who then proceeds to mention that E. is not rambunctious or loud like many of the other boys in the class. What irked me most was that this was said as though it was a flaw in my son’s personality. Well, he also has some unusual traits—-like having to go to the bathroom a lot. Goodness, if this is what we are dealing with aren’t we ahead of the game? Perhaps, my children have inherited my tiny bladder? It was not until I hung up from this conversation that my blood pressure started to rise. As a society or perhaps in our education system, are we striving to create children that fit a mold? Do we value a child that is unique, quirky or different than the pack? Is individuality something we should try to change in our children and why is that? Is our education system so weak that anything straying from the status quo is simply too hard to deal with? If this is the case, how sad is that. How horrible that after speaking with my son’s teacher, I quickly call my sister to discuss the possibility that something is wrong with my boy.

I am angry that I questioned my own child when he is simply being himself. A child that is very intelligent, thoughtful, loving and creative. Perhaps, I would better serve myself and my children by asking when did different become a dirty word.


Stacey Wakelin

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