Let’s start at the very beginning…
I was not your average kid.
There are plenty of people who read this blog who knew me back in my school days who can attest to the fact that I was absolutely NOT popular, or cool, or even what most would consider normal much of the time. I was one of those “marches to the beat of her own drummer” sorts.
For example, rather than chase boys and attend dances and parties, I spent my time doing things like convincing people to all come to school dressed as made-up superheroes or with their clothes as mismatched as possible. And while all the pretty, popular girls’ Halloween costumes were things like sexy nurses, or sexy, spandex-y cats, or sexy fill-in-the-blank, mine were things like a Christmas tree or a bag of jelly beans. For these reasons—and oh, so many others—people thought I was a little weird.
Shocking, I know.
But along came adulthood, and surprisingly, the tide started to turn. Apparently, being a little different is a good thing when you’re a grown-up. So all the things that labeled me as weird when I was a kid/teen suddenly just became quirky, or refreshing, or a host of other positive adjectives.
For example, screeching out the Birthday Song at full-volume to a roomful of 6th graders didn’t make me WEIRD, it made me DEDICATED, and FUN, and “BOY, DOESN’T SHE JUST LOVE THOSE KIDS!” Ditto for wearing a Ghost Buster costume on Halloween or participating in every Red Ribbon theme day.
So for nearly a decade, I’ve been bee-bopping along to the beat of my own drummer AND being cool/popular/normal ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It’s been pretty great. I see now what all the hype about popularity was.
But apparently, there is a line. And that line is made out of children.
Before kids, my weirdness consisted of being unique, living life with loud, reckless abandon, and not giving a rip what other people thought about me. Child-induced weirdness is different; it’s a total loss of all social skills. Think: that kid in school who was so weird that even the weird kids wouldn’t sit with him/her in the cafeteria.
Sadly, I did not see this social incompetence coming. I was caught totally off-guard by THE LOOK. I know that you know THE LOOK—cocked eyebrow, wide eyes, frozen smile from a fake chuckle... All tell-tale signs that someone finds you more than just a little odd.
Afterwards, I tried to evaluate what went wrong. WHY would someone think I’m odd? How did this happen? WHEN did this happen?
The more I thought about it, the more I started remembering other cocked eyebrows and wide eyes and frozen smiles, especially lately. And I thought back to the things I had done or said right before receiving those LOOKS. And suddenly, I realized--
I AM THE KID WHO EATS GLUE.
I AM THE KID WHO ROCKS IN CLASS.
I AM THE KID WHO SPEAKS FLUENT KLINGON.
I AM A WEIRDO.
I almost wanted to go back and apologize for my lack of social skills, but I decided that would make me come across as even weirder. So instead, I will make some general, public apologies. Because that would be totally normal.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am sorry that I talk incredibly fast and non-stop so that you can’t get a word in edge-wise. I never get to speak to actual adults, so I have to cover lots of topics in the short amount of time you’re here.
I am sorry if everything I say is really, really loud. When I’m home with three screaming children, if I’m not at top volume, I might as well not bother speaking. I’m also sorry for my really large, dramatic hand gestures. At least half of what I tell my kids has to also be enacted. Over the last few years, I’ve basically morphed into a really loud mime.
I apologize for the inane laughter (also loud), even after things that aren’t very funny. I’ve had to fake laugh A LOT for the sake of my kids’ tiny little self-esteems, so pretty much no matter what you say, it’s HILARIOUS compared to the preschool comedy I’ve been subjected to for the last 3 years.
I’m really sorry that I do voices. That probably freaks you out since I’m the only one speaking, so in theory, there should only be the one voice—MINE. I promise I do not suffer from mental illness. I’ve just found that changing up my voice sometimes helps hold my kids’ attention better. I see that it kept your attention as well, just not in a good way.
Please forgive me if I alternate between total distraction and intense, Superman-X-ray-vision eye contact. I’m trying to watch my kids while we’re chatting so that they don’t destroy something or get themselves kill’t, but the guilt of not giving you my full attention (rude!) forces me to overcompensate when I do look your way. It’s a hard line to toe.
I’m sorry if I yawn the entire time you’re speaking. I haven’t slept soundly in 1,311 days. I assure you that, despite all appearances, I am hanging onto your every word. Because I can understand them. And they’re not about poop.
I sincerely apologize if I come across as WAY too intense and pushy while trying to schedule another play date, or girls night out, or what-the-heck-ever. I’m just really, really desperate to get out of my house, and I’ve had about enough of taking Wal-Mart and Kroger trips just for a change of scenery. And the people who work there have had just about enough, too.
I’m sorry that every time you see me, my hair is wild, I stink, and I’m wearing the same clothes I’ve had on the last 15 times you saw me. I used to try. Really, I did. But when I know I am going to inevitably be doused in some sort of human goo and sweat down while chasing after 2 hyper children in triple-digit temperatures with 100% humidity, trying to appear presentable loses its appeal, short-lived that it would be. I assure you that my clothes have been washed and I have bathed, even if you can’t tell.
I promise that I will try harder! I will do better! I will re-learn volume control, and eye contact, and appropriate v inappropriate conversation topics! I will even throw a few new shirts into the rotation so you’ll have something new to smell—um, SEE! Just please don’t give up on me. You see how bad it’s gotten already. Imagine if I got even LESS social interaction! Oh, the horror!