I’m going to take you into the holidays with a quick personal story.
I was driving Zak, my 3rd grader, to basketball practice.
Zak: Dad, I learned something today.
Me: What’s that bud?
Zak: I learned I had a unibrow today. XXX told me.
Me: (heart sinks as the vapor of childhood innocence wafts out the car window) Was XX mean about it?
Zak: No. (Nonchantly. Almost surprised I would ask.)
Me: How did it make you feel?
Zak: (a pause that felt like forever to me but was probably only 2 seconds) It feels cool. I have a unibrow and I’m double-jointed so it’s hard for other people to be like me.
Mic drop for mom and dad. You can go to college now, there’s nothing left for us to do kid.
Seriously, this was the opposite of me at his age. I remember feeling bad for blue-eyed kids because they were different. My desire was just to fit in and not get made fun of for eating pita bread.
I don’t actually believe we have anything to do with this kid’s understated confidence. He’s sensitive and sweet. Full of joy. I have another son and know the difference. I know many of you have children that seem like they’re from different planets and can relate to how mysterious these creatures under your same roof are.
I learn a lot from watching Zak. His dominant characteristic is “happy wherever he is”. I seriously try to channel him when I’m anxious. The exchange we had in the car was a proud moment in the face of the tension all parents face — trying to balance prepping these small humans for reality and preserving their innocence.
Still, this is not really a parenting win.
Sometimes it’s just them. And you can learn from them if you take them seriously. It’s a strange privilege to admire your kid. I’m proud of him but that’s a weak description because “being proud” of a gift that comes from nowhere is not the right feeling.
I’m just grateful.