My Little “Other”

I have the most beautiful, amazing, talented and smart little girl – with one of the biggest hearts you will ever meet. She is 7….going on 97.

I have been watching her big brown eyes grow a little sadder every day for the past few weeks and my husband and I finally got her to share what was on her heart.

We moved to our very first home last year so she had to switch to a new school and she has been trying so very hard to fit in there …but just doesn’t seem to belong.

Every day, I ask her how her day was and what she did and who she played with – and quite often she responds with a simple “No one. I just played on the Monkey bars by myself…” and assures me that it is her choice to do so…but today – today…I learned otherwise.

This was our conversation on the way home from school this afternoon:

Me: “Who did you play with at recess today?”
Her: “No one. I ask kids to play with me and they just walk away. No one invites me to play with them…No one wants to play with me…”
Me: “Why don’t kids want to play with you?”
Her: “I’m an “Other””
Me: “…what’s an “Other””?
Her: “It’s someone that doesn’t fit in with anyone because …they are different.”
Me: “Different how?”
Her: “It doesn’t matter how. Sometimes they are smart kids, sometimes they are kids that are behind in stuff, sometimes they are kind of weird, sometimes they look different. They are just …”Others” and no one wants to play with us.
Me: “Oh..maybe you can play with the other “Others”?”
Her: “Others” like me…we just go around looking at the world instead. Today I found a big clump of moss and a pretty flower and a leaf skeleton and I just played in my imagination and… was alive.”
Me: “…What can we do..I dont know how to help..?”
Her: “It’s ok Momma. I don’t mind. Life is pain. It’s going to make me a stronger person when I grow up. Someday being an “Other” will help me change the World. Like… you know…Rosa Parks or Nikola Tesla or…You and Daddy.” 

My heart broke into a million pieces.

I’ve been trying to process it all afternoon and once she went to bed and I kissed her sweet smiling little face one more time – I went into my office and started thinking about my own childhood.

I was an “Other.”

I never fit in with any group either.

Don’t get me wrong…most everyone liked me (I think) – I was kind and respectful to everyone I met..always. I never judged anyone. I was always the first one to find the new kid and show them around. I made friends with all of my teachers and cared about everyone…but I didn’t fit in with anyone. Not really.

I used to dread lunch time. I hated going in and getting my lunch tray and then trying to figure out where to sit. I had lots of friends -but no “Group”. I didn’t fit in with any of them.

I was smart and I loved learning and reading and I loved having homework and always got good grades…but I didn’t fit in with the “Nerds.”

I was “Sweet” and “Kind” and helpful – and the “Jocks” were all nice to me and half of them would have pounded anyone who ever tried to hurt me in any way – but I was not a part of them.

I could dance and had some great moves and the “Cheerleaders” all thought I should try out for the team – but I was never asked to hang out with them or sit with them and was never asked to participate in anything social outside of school (or in school for that matter.)

I had a handful of people through out my school years that saw me for me and tried to incorporate me into their group but I just never really felt like I fit there either.

My childhood and teenage years were very lonely. I don’t want that for my daughter…and yet…a part of me does….because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t been an “Other” growing up (and still am to this day.)

Maybe that makes me a horrible Mother.

Maybe wishing this “Otherness” on my daughter is cruel…but I have a feeling that she is wrapping herself up in her cocoon right now and in another few years…a whole new level of beauty is going to be unfurled on this World – when she spreads her wings to fly.

To all of the parents out there with your own little “Others” – go take a walk through the Butterfly house at the zoo sometime…and watch not the fluttering colorful creatures flying about…but take a look at all of the people standing there – wide eyed, filled with awe and joy every time one of these amazing creatures lands on their shoulder and touches them with beauty.

That is my little girl.

She is my little “Otherling” and she already spreads joy – everywhere she lands.

3 thoughts on “My Little “Other”

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  1. I think I understand about her, Jen. I have a great granddaughter who is 15 now and seems to be popular and has several friends. But up untl about a year or so two ago she didn’t seem to have friends. She kept tp herself, got excellent grades from day one. She spent most of her time studying partly because she didn’t have much elso to do. She is small for her age and was selfconcious about it. She’s a very pretty girl. I used to feel kind of sad for her. But no more. She’s blossomed over the past couple of years and if she still feels self concious, she seems to accept and doesn’t let it bother her. Size really doesn’t seem to matter. I think there’s a lot of simialarity between her and your daughter. Of course they’re different but like my great granddaughter, I feel sure Torrae will be just fine. She already has a lot going for her.

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