My first grader had his big program at school this week. We’d been hearing all sorts of songs for weeks, songs about amigos, ribbity frogs, thanks-for-coming songs, a lovely assortment of first grade wonders.
When you get more than 80 first graders up on stage, there are bound to be some shenanigans. They are up there a long time, with no teachers close enough to control them.
And an audience.
As you can imagine, there were some wild dance moves on display, some exaggerated waving episodes, and one time when a student sat down on the risers for a nice long break.
But nothing could prepare me for my son’s actions.
Let me prepare you by telling you that this son is a bit of a live wire. He’s all in. Everything he feels, he feels BIG, whether it is grief or elation. And he likes to be funny.
He might get this from his mother.
That being said, I didn’t realize I should have sent a package of tissues in his pocket because he clearly had a nose issue going on while he was onstage.
He picked his nose almost the entire length of one song. I don’t know if he ever was able to remove the offending item from his nostril.
I should have told him where we planned to sit so he could locate us. The poor child had to make goggles with his hands to aid in finding his family in the large crowd.
And apparently he needed a bath more recently because, while his class was on center stage, he was so concerned with his hygiene that he had to smell his own armpit. Then he had to ask his neighbor to smell it. Then, in order to have a baseline for comparison, his neighbor had to smell HIS armpit. Then they had to smell one another’s armpits.
After the program, as I was going to pick up my son, I ran into an old friend I’m getting re-acquainted with. I asked how his daughter did. He seemed surprised by the question, said she did fine and then commented,
“Did you see those two boys smelling their armpits?”
I answered, “One of them was my son.”
He grinned and exclaimed, “That’s awesome!”
And if I stop to look at it from an outside perspective, it was pretty hilarious. You’d expect nothing less from a first grader. It is the classic, stereotypical behavior that happens at a first grade program.
The thing that made me slightly pleased with myself was that I didn’t hesitate to claim my son as my own. I didn’t smile and nod when my friend pointed to the armpit smelling, acting like I was an innocent observer (“Yeah, can you believe that boy?”). That kid is mine and even when he’s oblivious of the audience (or more aware of them, I’m not sure which) and volatile and intense, I claim him as mine.
Maybe it is because of my own inner goofball. I don’t have as many outlets for it these days, but in the past, I’d be the one who’d volunteer to dress up as a cat for some school assignment, or be the one to get a pie in the face for a fundraising event. I don’t mind being up front and I have no compunction about being made to look a fool, as long as I’m in on the joke.
There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do. -Amy Poehler
Being released from conventional definitions of what’s acceptable or proper is freeing. There’s something about embracing your inner goofball that makes you feel more alive.
That might be asking a lot for some of you more mature types. A first step can be to acknowledge that you even have an inner dork. Then try to remove a few ladle-fulls of the massive moat of doubt and analysis that keeps you from saying something you really think. Honesty is refreshing, for speaker and the receiver.
I think that’s the fun of writing. You can make anything happen to any character and as long as it rings true, it will hold up. So maybe the act of writing is a way of embracing one’s inner goofball. And, to steal the words of my friend, “That’s awesome.”
What ways do you “wave your freak flag” or release your inner goofball? How do you support your children’s expression of their personalities? What do you think about allowing yourself to speak your mind rather than censoring or modifying your expressed opinions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Back in elementary school, kids frequently got pulled out of class for various reasons. There were always people coming and going: bathroom breaks, trips to the nurses office, delivering the attendance and lunch count to the office, help with reading. But more noteworthy were the times when a couple select children would leave the room at the same time to go to a special class for gifted kids. They never said much about it, and I was too self-absorbed to be curious about it (those projects weren’t going to magically cut themselves out of construction paper).
These were the kids who were known as brainy or creative. They weren’t shunned because of it, they were respected, even admired. There was the tall, Amazonian girl with the flowing red hair, the preppy blond boy with ruddy complexion and quick wit, the shy girl with the notebook of beautiful sketches. They were mysterious, dynamic and exclusive; not just anyone could be a part of their special club. You couldn’t simply perform a dare and prove your worthiness; it required an assessment administered by professionals. I wanted to be gifted. I wanted to a part of their club. And when it didn’t happen, I felt it. I felt less special because I wasn’t as special as they were.
Dash, in the movie The Incredibles, is in elementary school and has a hard time restraining his special superpower: speed. His mom, Helen (the mild-mannered alter-ego persona to her Elastigirl), lectures him in the car, goes on about how he must conceal his secret powers. He wants to be special. Helen tells him that everyone is special. Dash replies, “Which means that nobody is.”
If everybody’s special, does that mean that nobody is special?
What’s so wrong with being ordinary?
There is a belief subtly creeping into Christian circles that if you are obedient and genuinely follow God, He will bless you. You’ll be successful, you’ll be wise and avoid major pitfalls in life, you’ll be affluent. Nevermind that the Bible teaches, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 and don’t freak out just yet, I don’t usually throw Bible quotes around.) The belief that we will be outwardly successful is a twist on the already insidious Prosperity Gospel that leads to disillusionment and doubt.
I’ve seen too many true followers of Jesus have heart-wrenching struggles and calamities to buy into Prosperity Theology or the Health and Wealth Gospel. It implies that if you just believed more, you wouldn’t get passed over for that promotion. If you just prayed more diligently, your child wouldn’t get that disease, your house wouldn’t catch on fire, or that cute boy would like you.
It doesn’t happen like that.
We aren’t special because of the external things that have gone well for us. We aren’t ordinary because we live regular lives. We are all special (and we are) because we are made in the image of God, called by Him to wholeness and a true identity in Christ. We are most fully released to be most true selves when we internalize our status as thoroughly adored by the Creator who knows us better than we know ourselves.
That’s one reason why I love the title of this blog: www.aroyaldaughter.com She understands her true identity. Ultimately, she is a royal daughter. She is (at risk of sounding corny) a princess.
Being a Royal means that you might live differently, more confidently, willing to take risks, more engaged in the world around you. You might have more compassion or be in tune with places that need support and then feel equipped to do something about it. You might be more appreciative of all the good around you that you had nothing (or very little) to do with and yet it is yours to benefit from and enjoy. You might choose to speak in a way that befits one with a royal lineage.
So since you are made in the image of God, whether you actively follow Him or not, how might that make you more awake today? What thoughts could you think, what things could you do if you believed that you were in fact, royalty?