About a month ago, I wrote a piece on accepting the ones we're given. Meaning that we have to accept both the parents we were born to and the children we have, whether either of them is what we want them to be.
With our parents, we can make choices as adults to tailor our relationships if need be, to limit them and ourselves because we know that we have to take them for what they are. We have to accept that they won't change unless they want to, and that all the wishing and hoping in the world won't matter. We have to deal with where we came from and have awareness of it, changing what we must to do things differently.
With our children, we can make the choice to fully embrace whoever they are, even if it is a bit different that what we signed up for. At the time I wrote it, I was thinking about things like illness and disease, about health problems unanticipated, about mental health struggles. Now, though, I am thinking about all the other things that make our children what they are.
This is something that has been driven home soundly in the past week, as I spent several hours crammed like sardines in a building full of people living out fantasies on Sunday. Comic Con.
For the first time in a long time, for the first time maybe ever, my husband feels like he belongs somewhere. He feels like he's not the only one in the world who loves this stuff. He met people who share the same interests. He has started to get back into gaming.
No one in this universe judges each other. No one calls him a dork or a geek or makes fun of what he likes. He can have actual conversations about episodes and issues and web series with other people who get it.
Could he have felt like that before this past weekend? Of course he could have.
He could have if he would have allowed himself to embrace this part of him, without regard for what other people thought.
He could have if people didn't make fun of him about it.
He could have if it was just an accepted part of who he was all along.
I include myself in the blame here, because I wasn't as encouraging as I should have been. Those days are over though, because for the first time in over twenty years, he is actually and genuinely excited about something he loves.
And I love him, so I will love whatever he loves.
My youngest daughter has had a rough few months, and she's learning to navigate this world she lives in while occupying the body she occupies, which would be a difficult thing for anyone to do, let alone a child. Before Sunday, she rarely embraced the world of dress-up, but all of a sudden she has.
Yesterday, she spent the entire day like this.
I let her.
She's finally (or already, depending on how you look at it) figured out that she can process how she's feeling easier if she thinks about it in terms of these characters. She needed to be Darth Vader yesterday because there were some dark thoughts running around in her mind, because she feels like sometimes no one understands her, because she feels like she's constantly having an internal struggle of good versus evil.
If she can express herself this way, if she can know that we'll all understand things better if she tells us this way, maybe it will be easier for her to work through it.
I've had several conversations with people who have messaged me about this in the past few weeks. Mostly parents asking about their kids, concerned that they live in these fantasy worlds, worried about them not being realistic. Unsure how to connect with them.
I say so what? There is nothing wrong with having an imagination. As parents, we need to encourage that.
Besides, you don't have to understand what your kids like to accept them.
Figure out what your kids love, who they identify with, what they are passionate about, and embrace it, even if (and especially if) you don't understand it.
Some of the parents who have messaged me have children who struggle with chronic illnesses, adhd, aspergers, mental illnesses....for those children especially, it makes sense when you think about it.
They need this fantasy world.
They need to believe that they have the power to overcome whatever is going on with them. They need to believe that they can be better, faster, stronger. They need the encouragement of this imaginary world when the real world so often throws up obstacles for them. They need to be unquestioningly accepted.
My husband needed all those things. He didn't have them for too long. He has them now.
If your child has these interests and is having a hard time meeting kids who share them, find them new groups of people to meet. Go to comic book stores, go to gaming stores, go to Cons and meet people.
Everyone fits in somewhere.
After all these years, my husband is finally going for it. Embracing this piece of him. He's teaching our kids to love what they love and that we will love them no matter what. Unconditionally.
Even if they need to wear the Vader mask today.
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