Birds of a feather will flock together. This is a saying that I heard growing up and now use with my own kids. Traditionally I’ve heard it and used it in the context of not hanging out with “friends” who don’t share the same interests. But, what if, we did take a chance and mix up the flock?
As we navigate middle school this year, my daughter has met so many new and very different friends. Some are athletic like her, some are artistic like her, and some are academic like her. But, she has also made some new friends who seem to have nothing in common with her. For example, a boy nicknamed “Beefy Tacos” because he loves to pass gas…a lot. Actually, he even loves taking credit for these nasal assaults and he proudly created his own nickname. Beefy Tacos is disruptive (mostly because of the relentless farts), he loves playing video games, and eating beefy tacos. When I first started hearing about Beefy Tacos, I didn’t think that this was her kind of flock. But, I was very wrong.
Over the last 2 months of school, Beefy Tacos is a constant in my daughter’s recitation of her day. I have learned that Beefy Tacos is kind, hilarious, passionate about his interests, dedicated, and very hardworking. These are all qualities that inspire and brighten her day. Because of Beefy Tacos, she has stepped outside of her box and developed an interest in playing games of strategy and a closer bond with her brother who shares similar interests. What I am most proud of though, is that she took the time to get to know the person behind the farts.
Another unsuspecting flock came in the way of a girl who is so painfully shy that she has trouble making friends. This friend doesn’t talk much, shies away from large groups, and is easily overwhelmed. My daughter is drawn to groups, very sociable and confident. Despite these differences, my daughter was determined to connect with her. She began by always saving a seat next to her or defending her if someone else began teasing. Soon, she earned the girl’s trust and the girl opened up and became a friend. They like to text each other and this new friend is super sweet. My daughter discovered that they have a lot in common and they have become very close.
Sometimes our best gifts come in untidy, unsuspecting, and at times smelly packages. But, when you take the time to dig a little deeper, you discover a real treasure. My daughter reminded me that birds of a feather do not always have to flock together and that it is important to fly with different flocks. While it is important to share some of the same values, it is also important to surround yourself with people who have different ideas, points of views and unique experiences.
Although I am the parent, I am reminded that there is always room to grow. I am thankful for kids who desire to find commonalities and value in others that are different than them and have different views than them. I think we all need this reminder from time to time. Let’s all flock together and journey on!