She was four years old. A tiny little thing with curly pig-tails and big blue eyes. We had enrolled her in a program called Wee College. It was a weekly program for preschoolers to teach them the bible, kind of like a beefed up Sunday school for overachievers. The system was pretty old school, but the teacher was dedicated and creative, so it worked.
We coasted through the lesson on the creation of the world, but when it came to the garden of Eden we hit a snag. It wasn’t that she was uninterested in the story, in fact, she was fascinated by it. Satan in the form of a serpent tempts Eve to eat from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and the innocence of humanity is lost. While all the other children learned important lessons about temptation and sin, she had a completely different take on the story.
“Mom, I like the sneaky snake. He’s my favourite.”
We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but settled somewhere in the middle. No amount of discussion or explanation could convince her that the snake wasn’t the BEST part of the story. She drew pictures of him, talked about him and dug through her children’s bibles to find pictures of him. Was this a sign of things to come? Did my precious daughter have a rebellious streak a mile wide? In a word, yes.
The year before, we had enrolled her in a community dance program. She disliked being ordered around and preferred to literally dance to her own rhythm in the corner of the room. In one situation when the teacher instructed the girls to dance around in a circle, she proceeded to pull her tutu over her face and run around in the opposite direction, knocking the poor little ballerinas down left and right. I must admit that after removing her from class and disciplining her, I had to retreat to another room to roar with laughter.
But she is also a free-thinker and a non-conformist. That same year she decided that she was a true princess and proceeded to wear a tiara at ALL times. It was with some difficulty that we convinced her she must take it off for baths and at bedtime (though occasionally we would go back in to check and it would be back on her head).
Lately she’s become more and more concerned with what people think of her. She still marches to the beat of her own drum, but it’s quieter now, less flashy. She’s gotten shy in new situations and less comfortable with being the off-beat, quirky one.
It makes me sad. I know that life is easier if you’re not the “weird one”, but I think it’s better if you are. Conformity to the norm is great for assembling Ikea furniture and making origami, but it’s not a virtue I admire. While I don’t want her to be weird for its own sake (a la Lady Gaga), I want her to find their own voice; to be the unique person God made her to be.
On a completely unrelated note, this same daughter has begun a campaign to get her own snake. According to her, they make great pets.
So here’s me, absolutely refusing to buy a snake, but appreciating the sentiment all the same.
Here’s a blast from the past on finding your own rhythm: