As a parent, worrying comes with the territory. Is my kid eating enough? Too much? Is my kid too dependent? Too independent? Is my kid too shy? Too aggressive? The list goes on and on.
I’m no stranger to worry. (In fact it’s more like my best friend.) Which is why this story will come as no surprise to those who know me.
I was talking to our pediatrician recently about some things Big was doing that I found…well, out of the ordinary. (I know, I know, there’s no such thing as an ordinary 4-year old.) We spoke in code as I shared my concerns and she nodded attentively. At the end of my description, she answered, “Well, that is a little O-D-D.”
Panic set in. I didn’t hear anything she said beyond that point. I knew it! There was something wrong. One of those scary acronyms. It wasn’t OCD, but it was close enough. Obsessive Dysfunctional Disorder? Obsessive Disturbed Disorder? I tried to look composed as my mind raced.
I couldn’t get home fast enough to start reading about my son’s new diagnosis and what it would mean for my little boy, his future and our family. I sat down to the computer, took a deep breath and typed the term into the search box.
When I saw it in lower case, I realized the only insane person in our family was me. Odd. The doctor was spelling ‘odd’. I can handle odd. Heck, I even kind of like odd.
There are so many pressures on us to be perfect parents (being a perfectionist may put me in the extreme category here, but still…). It seems like we’re constantly being measured—from playground chit-chat to school testing, and everywhere in between. As a result, the pressure trickles down to our kids to be the ideal siblings, friends, students, athletes, you name it. I know Big feels it already. And it shows—in o-d-d ways.
So I’m making a commitment to celebrate and embrace my kids’ o-d-d-ities—more than ever. I will try (oh so hard) to go easier on them (and myself). Of course I’ll continue to encourage them to do well and work hard in all walks of life. But they’re just kids. For now.
No doubt I’ll get a little anxious next time I hear the moms at preschool pick up talking about how their kid just perfected long division. But instead of joining in the comparisons, I’ll find my sweet boy’s smile across the room and know that he’s doing just fine.
Photo is courtesy of my friend (and talented photographer), Gay Jacobs.