“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Hunter S. Thompson
I am weird.
You all know that. If you’ve read any number of the posts here, you’ve already formed that conclusion.
And you would be correct.
My entire life has felt like being the one small piece of a very large puzzle that doesn’t fit in anywhere. No matter how hard or how many times I try.
My personal brand of weirdness reminds me of its existence regularly. For example, while going through an unmarked manila file folder in my desk, I found several examples which make me wonder about myself sometimes.
A copy of Wyatt Earp’s death certificate. Sam Kinison’s autopsy report and funeral bill. A handbill detailing Doc Holliday’s funeral service (most likely fake, but bitchin’ nonetheless).
As if my dream car (mentioned in the post titled “The Secret”) wasn’t proof enough. Nor my unconventional occupations that I’ve enjoyed.
And now, I have a weird kid.
I love him more that I ever thought I would love a child. He is a wonderful, loving, tender-hearted little guy. He’s a Mini-Me (I raise my pinky to my lip in my best Dr. Evil imitation).
And he’s weird. Exasperatingly so.
As a dad who was a weird kid and who knows the pain that can be inflicted on weird kids from so-called “normal” kids, I want to spare him from that if at all possible.
I’m not sure that I can. And after a little chat that he and I had a short time ago, I’m not sure that I want to.
In my quest to father this lad, I spend a few minutes of almost every evening lying next to him before he goes to bed and we talk about whatever is on his little mind.
This particular evening, I was questioning him on the necessity of his stuffed animals in his room. I swept my arm across the room in a grand gesture.
“Aren’t you getting a little old for these?”
“No Dad. I like them.”
I protested. And he floored me with a simple sentence.
“Dad,” he said softly. “I’m just different. I’m not like other kids.”
And my heart broke just a little. Because I knew exactly what he was speaking of.
He and I had a very serious conversation back in the fall, during a Dad/son day trip to some nerdy destination that we were both excited about.
He was very quiet during the ride. He usually never shuts up.
He confided in me that kids at school were mean to him. Just for being himself.
And then he stuck a verbal dagger in me by saying:
“Sometimes, I think that God made me a mistake.” And he wept.
I parked the car and held him while he cried. Fresh in my mind was the family of a young man who must have had similar feelings about himself, just before he stepped in front of an 18-wheeler on the highway.
His words hit home. Hard.
I never, ever want my son to feel this way. I have spent way too much time feeling the same way myself. As a weird adult, I’ve made peace with the fact that I will never have a lot of people who get me or want to hang out with me. (It took me a long time to do so.) As a single guy, women never wanted anything to do with me (or so it seemed. Lucky for me I found an attractive wife who has weird taste in men.) And my god, did it ever suck being an un-athletic kid at a sports-crazed high school. Seeing my son already start to experience this kind of rejection makes me worry about what difficult days may come in his future.
When he finished crying and gathered himself, I tried to make a very clear point to him. I needed to let him know that it was okay to be different. That he was still a human being worthy of love and life.
So I told that I loved him. That I would always love him, no matter if he was weird or not. As long as he was a good person, I would love him as long as there was breath in my body and blood in my veins. And that his mom felt the same. And as long as you have people who love you, no matter if it is one or one hundred, then you have a reason to keep living and enjoying your life.
I wished I would have heard those words when I was growing up. Even though I am sure the sentiment and feelings were there, it sure would have helped to here the words on those darker days.
Back to the night of the Great Stuffed Animal Debate, I decided that I need to let him be him. That he needs to be himself. I will counsel and advise him if asked to, but I will not force him to be something that he is not. And if my memory serves me, being like the “normal” kids isn’t an improvement.
I consider it a courtesy to him, from one weird kid to another. A courtesy that I extend to any of you out there who might fall into the same abyss with he and I. I’m always glad to hear from my fellow Weird. It’s okay to be different. As long as one person loves you for who you are, keep living and keep loving.
We’re here. We’re weird. Let your freak flag fly. Let it fly!