For “H” day, Sophie’s teacher asked kids to name something huge and heavy. A horse, the other kids said, and a hippo. Then they each kept repeating each other’s ideas, a horse and a hippo, a horse and a hippo, until it came to Sophie’s turn. “Well,” she said, “a really big eyeball might be huge and heavy. Or a box of beans.”
Her teacher told me this story as an example of Sophie’s silliness. I was proud of Sophie’s wonderful creativity, until afterwards when she told me: “My teacher says I’m silly, not smart.” I spent the rest of the car-ride home trying to tell Sophie all the ways in which she’s smart, but I know that she feels insults far more than complements.
Later, she told me, “We can play bad kids. Say, ‘You’re weird!” That’s what mean kids say.” Apparently, that’s what mean kids have been saying to her.
The next day, I listened to an older girl at the park informing Sophie that she should stop saying “Mac-n-cheese-a-roni” and start saying “Macaroni and cheese.”
I suppose it’s inevitable, even in my hippie SoCal town: Sophie is feeling the pressure to conform, the pressure to act normal. It makes me sad to think I might lose my delightfully silly child and her mac-n-cheese-a-roni.
I think I’m going to start telling her the story of my old friend Sprout, who used to stand on a huge rock chanting “WIGNIB: Weirdness Is Good, Normal Is Boring, WIGNIB WIGNIB.” And she will probably decide that I’m entirely uncool.