My daughter finished third grade this week.

It seems impossible that she is already to this point in her life, but I don’t need to waste space explaining to anyone who has been around kids that they seem to grow up at a staggering rate.

I do find that as she grows older I start to chart her life alongside mine. I think about the things I did, the friends I had.

I have a great photo from my third-grade year where I am wearing a sweatshirt with pictures of bears in spacesuits ironed on to it. My daughter wore a Beatles shirt today. (I think she wins.)

I liked to read and write stories. I made it to the district-wide Young Author’s competition that year. Hundreds of 9-year-olds were given tiny hardbound books with blank pages and told to fill them with their best attempt at a story. Mine involved a dinosaur being discovered in present day and had a lot of similarities to a certain Michael Chrichton novel from the same period.

My daughter has spent her playground time for the last month adapting and directing her favorite graphic novel into a stage play. (I think she wins.)

I used to come home from school, retrieve a plastic hockey stick from the shed and retreat to the backyard where the ivy beds were my stage and the trees my audience. I spent hours pretending to be the lead singer of a fictional rock band.

Last night Sadie told me that sometimes she pretends to be in a live commercial. Whatever item she might be holding suddenly becomes the product she is pitching and sometimes she creates the entire script in her head. This seems like much more practical (and potentially profitable) daydreaming. (I think she wins.)

I got in trouble once in third grade for telling someone to hurry while in line at the water fountain. Mr Wilcoxon, knowing my dad was a church minister, rudely told me to “save my preaching until Sunday.”

Sadie came home terrified that she was in for big consequences a few weeks back because she used the school online messenger program to ask a friend “Who farted?” She even gets in better trouble than I did. (I think she wins).

But that is the aspiration, right? We all want our kids to have it better – even if all they are better at is being strikingly unique (aka kind of weird). The challenge of parenting is knowing how to nurture that having already come out the other side into adulthood.

When she gets a little closer to middle school and becomes glaringly self-conscious; when she doesn’t push her big ideas with such abandon – how then will I keep her convinced that a love for band t-shirts and good books, a creative streak and the ability to get in just the right amount of trouble are the most valuable life skills?

Maybe the key is leading by example. Maybe I just need to keep being a little weird myself.


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