It’s been way too long since I updated about the people this blog should really be about. The kids. They’re stuck in this insanely non-traditional family, wandering through life being red-flagged as “different” from the minute they come through the door. I never meant to screw my kids over, but sometimes I think I may have done just that.
The Professor turns 21 on Thursday. (obligatory “Oh my DOG, I’m old!” comment here) Forget marching to her own “drummer.” This child, from her first days, gathered her own drum circle and danced there. You could join in or not; it made no difference to her. This is the kid who showed up to baseball practice (yes, on the boys’ Little League Team) with her ponytail under her hat. Having a unisex name was the Professor’s ticket – the boys didn’t know the difference for the first few sessions. But near the end of the fourth practice, she and another boy collided and her hat went flying. The ponytail flew out and down her back and there was a collective gasp. “A GIRL?!” The Professor stood up, hands on her hips, and spit back, “Yeah, what of it?” One by one the boys pursed their lips as they weighed evidence against evidence, and finally one said, “Well, Jake, she sure knocked you on your butt!” And that was it. Those boys were fiercely protective of her, going so far as to “accidentally” trip an opposing player who made a disparaging remark about their girl.
So it went on. The Professor has blazed her own trail, wherever it took her, caring little for what other people think of it. She will squeal like an elementary kid over a cute animal photo, knock the crap out of you on a taekwondo mat (she has a black belt), stagger into class in sweats and a hoodie, makeup and hair a distant memory, and argue econometric theory with you til the cows come home. The fact that she is 1/4″ under official “Amazon” height infuriates her, she changes the color of the underside of her hair every few weeks, and she’ll break into Irish dance moves anywhere at any time. But make no mistake that while some people might raise an eyebrow and think, “That’s one weird chick!”, she has a loyal cadre of people who are incredibly and fiercely protective of her. Those same people are cheering her on as she progresses through grad school.
The Artist, from the time of her birth, has had no problem with the fact that she is smarter than you. She just feels bad for your having to adjust to it. Her neurological issues that presented at birth led her doctors to tell us that she would never mainstream into a regular classroom, and she responded by learning to read, complete with inflection and different voices for different characters in stories, by age 4. The Artist, like the Professor, is quite content in the fact that she is so much different than other people. It amuses her greatly when people tell her that she’s weird because her family is supportive and accepting of her no matter what. Though she’ll graduate in May with a degree in Psychology, her name is well earned. The Artist’s true love lies within artistic expression. Her drawings are gorgeous, her sense of color and style are genius, and her innate talent for blowing glass has been evident from her first piece.
Like many other artists, this one struggles with her own demons at times. But, like her sister, those who are deemed worthy to be close to her would do anything for her. The Artist, like the Professor, inspires loyalty in her loved ones simply by being themselves.
My Ambassador is the one who struggles the most with being different, I think. Women of all ages have fawned over him since day one, and I don’t think it ever gets old for him. However, this backfires on him when it comes to dating. The Ambassador is a sophomore in college. He is considerate, responsible, well spoken, polite, and funny. His natural charisma has other college girls buzzing like bees to a flower, riiiight up until they hear those three little words. “I’m only 17.” At that point, they turn tail like criminal from the cops. It’s a lonely existence for a guy like the Ambassador, and while age won’t matter in a few more years, it’s a huge factor for now. No matter how intelligent he is, how sweet he is, how interesting, no young woman is going to be the one dating the “jail bait”.
It’s tough to watch your kid struggle. It’s even tougher knowing that it does get better with time and age, and that for some things, there is no other recourse than simply that.
I’ll try to add more humor and less rumination to this blog from now on. Because kids, even at the ages that mine are, are still the best source of humor we have on most days.