I used to put my training potty in front of the TV so I wouldn't have to get up to poop during Saturday morning cartoons. I know what you're thinking and, yes, it was incredibly clever. Though, insisting that I park myself between my older sister and her friend may have drawn attention away from the ingeniousness of it.
I also used to spend my spare time bobbing for ice cubes and I used to find great joy in drawing T-shirts -- not designs for T-shirts, just the shape of a T-shirt over and over again. I was a weird kid. Probably not any more or less weird than any kid. I mean, all kids are weird. But, my weirdness didn't go away and, after a period of trying to repress my weirdness (a phase I like to call "the late '90s"), I learned to let it fly. And now that I'm a dad, I find my weirdness comes in handy when entertaining my twin 6-year-olds. Like, who knew my forte for making fake animal voices would be a useful tool for getting my kids to brush their teeth? (You didn't misread that. I said "animal voices." I would make voices for animals to see what they would sound like if they could talk. You'd be surprised how many of them sound like Glomer from the Punky Brewster cartoon.)
As you can imagine, my kids are weird, too. Super-weird. It's like they're going for a medal or something. My son Wyatt insists on getting from room to room by doing a series of slow, crooked somersaults and my son Boone has dance moves that seem to blend the best techniques of Bob Fosse and Pee Wee Herman. And that's just two examples of what it's like in my house.
Recently, a slightly older kid saw Boone dancing (and possibly screeching like a hawk) because he was excited about something. The kid said, "You're weird." And Boone lost it. He cried, felt insulted and probably a bit torn down by an older kid, one who he maybe looked up to... I mean he literally looked up to him, but... well, you know what I mean. My wife consoled him, calmed him, but he was clearly upset by the whole exchange.
That night at dinner, he told me what happened and what the kid said. I replied, "So what?" I explained to him that being weird is the best thing ever because weird people are amazing. Weird people create art that inspires others; weird people ask questions no one has ever answered in a way no one would ever think to ask -- and then find the answers; weird people disrupt the status quo; weird people change the freaking world. My wife added that she was weird, because she often tries to sing all the parts to "California Dreamin'" by herself, including the harmonies, at the same time. Wyatt said he was weird because he likes to make up words and work them into regular conversation. I told him I was weird because I don't like little pieces of paper. Then, Boone said he's weird because he likes to pretend he's running into walls. We spent all of dinner talking about what makes each of us weird. By the end, we were one-upping each other. I would say something like, "Oh, yeah? I'm weird because the worse a movie is, the more I like it." And Wyatt would follow with, "Well, I'm weird because speeegooo peeegooo."
As we headed upstairs to get ready for bed, I told them both, "Be weird. It's what makes you unique and it's why you can make a difference in this world. And the only way getting called weird can hurt you is if you let it." Then, while brushing teeth, we did our nightly routine of introducing ourselves into the bathroom as if we were dignitaries from foreign lands with ridiculous names. The more ridiculous, the better.
Wyatt's really good at it.