Are You My Kind of Weird?
“Kids are wonderfully weird.” That’s been a catchphrase of mine for eons. To be fair, I have dozens of catchphrases ranging from the cautionary, “Rule number one: no choking, no dying.” to the absurd, “Never miss an opportunity to accessorize!” That last one is usually accompanied by the kids tossing down the couch pillows into an impromptu runway and cat walking to `Right Said Fred` (Yes, that song).
But I digress. When I say “kids are wonderfully weird” it’s with a tinge of envy. I remember childhood days when doing a realistic impression of a cawing crow in the middle of a social event was completely acceptable. Years later, I was at a cocktail party – in my fancy dress, standing on one foot, cawing and flapping one arm while holding my drink in the other – when I realized this is not accepted behavior for an adult. Being different is considered weird.
Listen, I’m about as plain Jane as they come. So if I’m weird, then what is normal supposed to look like? The answer is: there is no normal. Everyone is weird. We’re all just different types of weird. I now live my life a bit like the baby bird in Are You My Mother? Except my burning question is slightly different. It’s: Are You My Kind of Weird?
I often get asked how much of me is reflected in the main character of my book, Meow Is Not a Cat. The fact is, not much. Meow is not my kind of weird, and that’s what makes Meow so fascinating to me. Where I speak in stories, Meow understands literal instructions. Where I assume everyone is different, Meow sees others as mysteriously similar. Where I might occasionally bump up against boundaries, Meow blasts past them at warp speed (while squawking like a pterodactyl, of course).
In this story, it’s the teacher, Ms. Snickety, who is my kind of weird. She’s the observer. She speaks in colloquialisms and assumes everyone knows what she means. She’s all for boundaries and is dumbfounded when they are observed differently than she expected. But, thankfully, she is also well-intentioned. She can embrace the joy a creative kiddo can provide, it just… takes her a little while to figure it all out.
I hope that the other Ms. Snicketys in the world take a cue. When kids “aren’t listening”, is it possible your request was clear to you but not to them? When folks act in totally unexpected ways, is it possible not everyone is as surprised as you are? When you have that ah-ha moment and finally see someone’s wonderfulness, is it possible for you to meet them where they are and… just dance?
In other words, is it possible that not everyone is your kind of weird? The answer is, of course, they aren’t! We’re all wonderfully weird in infinitely unique ways.