Earlier this evening my wife and I returned from our seven-year-old's first parent-teacher conference as a first grader. We'd done a few when he was in kindergarten, but those don't really count as they're just too young to derive much from the discussion.
This one was hard.
I never fit in growing up. I probably still don't today, but as we grow older there are fewer and fewer clicks for folks to actually fit into, so things tend to find natural balance. At first glance it's looking like my son won't fit the general profile either. I feel bad for my wife as, if these early signs are a harbinger, she's not ready for what lies ahead in the years to come.
You see, I can be a tad pedantic, and my son is trending the same way. I've always been this way, and particularly in the early years, it really gets in the way. When other kids were blissfully unaware of what was going on around them, I was obsessed with my surroundings; people, authority (real & imagined), culture, structure, music, science, how the world works, etc. The challenge is that such an outlook on life doesn't fit the mold, so there is constant tension, confusion, and misunderstanding amongst the players.
The education system deemed me "too serious," "angry," "depressed," "anti-social," and on and on and on. As a result, I was always the odd man out. The models didn't work for me, so I got squeezed out to the sidelines while the majority gleefully marched along.
After some big bumps in the road, I finally figured out the game and realized it was easier to play along with everyone else for a few more years, then I'd be off to college and able to define my world the way I wanted it to be. I'd get to leave the constricted frameworks behind. All of that has worked out pretty well, though there are still plenty of constructs I don't fit in. I've learned how to adapt/adjust however, and life is good.
We talked with the teacher for awhile about some of these notions, and I imagined my parents' first parent-teacher conference with my first grade teacher. I'm sure it went the exact same way. My parents screwed up plenty while rearing me and my brother (we'll obviously do the same with our children), but one thing they did that blows me away to this day is they loved me, believed in me, and fought for me for over a decade of true mayhem.
While I hope we're just in yet another proverbial phase, in case we're not, I look forward to leading my son with the same love, perseverance, dedication and faith that my parents did with me.
To my wife, if we have to walk down this path, while it'll be petrifying, don't worry, I've walked down it, I know which turns to take, and amazing things are at the other end.
To my son (if you ever wind up reading this), I love who you are. I love knowing we see the world through similar eyes. We experience life in the same way, and that bond is truly amazing; we'll share it forever in ways few ever do. Embrace who you are and enjoy it. Being the black-sheep yields greatness. I'll always be by your side.