I had a conversation with an 11-year-old last week that I can’t stop thinking about. It tugged at my heartstrings because while my story wasn’t her story, I just so get her and I get it.
The minute we sat down together that day, she immediately said, “I’m like a multi-sided die. There are so many parts to me and I’m still trying to figure it all out.”
She happens to be one of the most introspective, super awesome girls I know. She’s brilliant, with an IQ that likely surpasses mine. She’s hilarious. She’s socially awkward. She has trouble in school. She has ADHD. She’s awesome.
She proceeded to tell me about all of the different parts of her – the nerdy part, the quirky part, the studious part, the part who likes art. “And there’s probably a lot more parts that I’m trying to figure out still,” she added.
We got down to work, but later on, seemingly out of the blue, she blurted, “I’m an odd duck. Strange. Peculiar.”
“What makes you think that?” I asked her.
“Because I’m not normal. Because I’m weird. And I have ADHD.”
“That doesn’t mean you’re strange or peculiar,” I responded.
She rolled her eyes. “All adults say that. They say I’m special and unique. But special is just a word they use to mean ‘different’ and unique just means ‘not like anyone else’. It’s just sugar-coating.”
I paused. “I wasn’t going to say that, actually.” I told her. “I was going to say that having ADHD wouldn’t make you strange or peculiar. It’s just a thing. Everyone has things.”
“No they don’t,” she slumped in her seat. “Everyone else is normal.”
I know. I so know exactly how she feels. Think. How would I have wanted an adult to respond to me?
I took a breath. “Here’s the thing. And you have to trust me on this because I’ve been there. Okay? As you grow up you’ll realize that everyone has something. Everyone HAD something. You just might not know it right now.”
She slid a sideways glance at me. “Because it’s inside. Not on the outside.”
She thought about it for a minute.
“I wish I had x-ray vision so I could see what everyone else has…”
“I don’t blame you,” I told her. “That would make it a lot easier.”
“….but, then I’d be a cheater when I play Battleship.” she finished.
Excellent point, my little friend.