IT’S OK TO BE DIFFERENT // teaching kids to relish their quirks

Lil Sis has so many amazing qualities, but by far my favourite is her crazy sense of humour.

Even as a baby she loved making people laugh; now she’s six years old and will still do pretty much anything to put a smile on your face, whether it be a goofy walk, a funny face, or a quick-witted reply that has everyone in stitches.

She unapologetically goes against the grain, whether it be wearing a tutu to the shops or (like last weekend) a full face of vampire makeup, and I just adore her chutzpah and verve for life.

The other week OH took the girls to the local craft shop to spend their pocket money. Except, instead of coming home with a new packet of felt-tip pens, she returned with this rather fetching rubber witch’s nose.

‘She really wanted it,’ OH shrugged, when I look at him quizzically.

On the school run the next morning she pulled the nose out from her school bag and secured it around her head. ‘OK, so we’re wearing the nose today,’ I remarked. And she did. She marched up to the classroom door, while each of her classmates did a double-take. ‘Look at Lil Sis!’ they gasped, faces lit up by their grins.

When I picked her up, the first thing she did was put the nose back on to walk home. The next day she wore a red clown’s schnozz, the day after that, a rabbit’s nose and whiskers.

She was having fun, but – more than that – she was brightening other people’s days too. I’d see drivers double take as they drove past, and she had the school lollypop lady in stitches: ‘Lil Sis, you’ve really made me giggle,’ she said.

Yesterday it was the turn of the witch’s nose again, and Lil Sis wore it proudly as we walked to pick up her older sister. I was trailing slightly behind when two older girls pulled up alongside her.

‘Ewwww,’ I heard one of them remark nastily. ‘Your nose is so big, and ugly and gross.’ ‘Yuck,’ the second one added, ‘it even has a wart on it!’

They’d walked on by the time I caught up, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but a few seconds later Lil Sis pressed the nose into my hand. ‘Can you put this away, please Mummy,’ she asked.

I pulled her to one side. ‘You haven’t taken it off because of those mean girls, have you? Because you should never let anyone make you feel bad about yourself.’

‘I just didn’t feel like wearing it anymore,’ she replied, but I knew she wasn’t telling the truth.

And my heart broke a little bit. 

Because I knew she’d experienced the first of what would be many moments in her life when mean girls would make her feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and her self esteem would take a blow. When she’d question herself, and whether she was saying, doing or wearing the right thing. When she’d feel obliged to dim her quirky, radiant personality in order to ‘fit in’.

The next morning she didn’t put on the nose. ‘I just forgot,’ she explained, a little too flippantly, but I knew the comments were still preying on her mind.

We got to the road crossing, and the lollypop lady glanced over. ‘Oh Lil Sis!’ she exclaimed. ‘Where is your nose? Every day I look forward to seeing what you’re wearing; it’s the best part of my whole day!’

Delight spread across Lil Sis’s face, and I literally felt her demeanour lift.

‘See?’ I told her. ‘Look how many people love you wearing the noses! You mustn’t let a couple of mean girls spoil the fun for all of you.’

I’m not going to push it too hard, but I have my fingers crossed Lil Sis will decide to ignore the mean girls and wear her noses again. OH and I have ordered a whole pile from Ebay, so they’ll be ready and waiting if she does.

I’ll keep you posted. 

• if you found this post interesting, you might also like to read SEXISM, STEREOTYPES & SABOTAGE or UNFAIR GAME

 

18 Comments

  1. Sabina green - February 23, 2017

    Aw bless her, I hate if when others take the shine away from their glittering personalities. Kids can be so cruel, I shall look forward to seeing more noses on instagram next week xx

  2. Lubka Henry - February 23, 2017

    This is a really good post. It’s very important to let kids be confident from when they’re little.
    Lubka Henry recently posted…Indiegogo campaign: Stylish and smart travel with Ready LuggageMy Profile

  3. Honestmum - February 23, 2017

    Oh Jacqui I love Little Sis and Big Sis and it breaks my heart too that those girls made her feel bad. KIds can be so mean. It’s vital we show our children it’s glorious being ourselves. Maybe you should rock a nose one day with her. Love this x
    Honestmum recently posted…Why Creating Your Company When You’re on Maternity Leave is the Best Time to Start UpMy Profile

    • Jacqui - February 23, 2017

      I know!!! I literally choked up telling Danny about it afterwards remembering how crestfallen she was. Kids can be so mean sometimes. Although it’s heartening to see schools putting increasing emphasis on kindness and tolerance – hope it continues! 🙁 xx

  4. Mirka Moore @Kahanka - February 24, 2017

    That is so so sad how children, especially girls can be nasty and mean to each other at such young age. It is a shame, but as you have said this is just the beginning, unfortunately, and she will need to get used to others not being nice. It’s a sad sad world. On the other hand, fingers crossed she will get over this and focus on the people who love her and are nice, that’s what matters the most xxx
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    • Jacqui - February 24, 2017

      Sad but true – as we all know, it only gets worse as they get older. 🙁 Hopefully we can teach her to focus on the people who make her feel happy and accepted, and ignore all of those who don’t. xx

  5. your DIY family - February 24, 2017

    Love the quirks of lil sis and the fact that she went to a craft store and picked out a nose. Reading that has brought a huge smile to my face. But so sad to hear about those mean girls. My mum always told me if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all and I think more parents need to teach their kids that it’s not ok to make fun of someone just for being a bit different.

    • Jacqui - February 24, 2017

      I know, right? Of all the things to come back with!!! Really hoping we can teach her to ignore the negative Nancys, and continue to be her genuine quirky self xx

  6. Ashleigh - February 24, 2017

    This is too cute! I was definitely that child at school that tried to stand out a bit. It’s the best way to be, so go her! xx
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  7. Sarah - February 24, 2017

    Aww this is such an awesome and sweet post, shame about those mean girls. Clearly they weren’t the smartest crayons in the box though! It’s definitely a great way for your little girl to be, I bet you’re so proud of her xxxx
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    • Jacqui - February 24, 2017

      Haha! I like the way you think Sarah – anyone who doesn’t love a warty witch’s nose is DEFINITELY lacking in the smarts department. 😉 Very proud of her, and hope her quirkiness continues to flourish! xx

  8. Sarah - February 25, 2017

    Aww that’s so sweet, it’s definitely important to show her it’s ok to be different. I hope she keeps being herself, and isn’t too put off because of the mean kids.
    Sarah recently posted…An essay on my identity: Being a womanMy Profile

  9. Rebecca Smith - February 25, 2017

    This breaks my heart – my son has adorable little quirks sometimes and even now at the age of 5 he’s said about stopping doing things because someone at school said he shouldn’t, its so sad.

  10. Paul Cook - March 1, 2017

    i would really love to win for my besest friend Lucy loo for her 4th birthday love the page mummy

  11. Yaya - March 6, 2017

    What a lovely post! It’s so heartbreaking to see someone make them doubt themselves. I hope the nose has come back out to play and put smiles on people’s faces. x
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