Monday, February 8, 2016

Dear Middle Schooler

Orangutan is now a middle schooler. Sounds insane, right? Yeah, to me too. But we had a moment this weekend I think and I feel I need to write her a letter that she will probably never see. I'll tell her all these things over the course of the next three years but I'm sure she will cut me off so this will be my one chance to tell her all my thoughts all in one place. Someday I'll print it out and give it to her. Right about the time she has a middle schooler of her own but until then...

Dear Middle Schooler,
There are people in this world who have to control things. Your mother is one of them. I'm going to tell you a little secret about Control People. We want control because it makes us feel secure. When we understand the world and people and processes around us, we think we can deal with things and succeed. When we don't understand things, we don't feel secure. There's a question mark in our world and question marks are open. Anything can happen. Anything can be said. Anything can be done. The answer to that question mark changes things. But Control People don't know what that change is or if and how it is going to affect them. And we don't like not knowing.

You, my sweet darling child, are a question mark. You embrace life for all the quirks, and funky, and fun it has to offer. Every new person is a friend. Every new style is your fashion. Every new food...ok, bad example. Food isn't open to question marks for you. That's your brother. Every new song, every new's all your personal adventure. As a result your humor is different. Your tastes are always changing. You don't fit in to what everyone else (the Control People) expects.

In other words child, you terrify us. When I was a Middle Schooler oh so many decades ago, question mark people were just ignored. They found people who were the same kind of question mark and went on their merry way. Unfortunately for you, this is not when I was a middle schooler. Now question marks are turned into targets. If Control People don't understand and get scared, they get angry. How dare you make me feel insecure in who I am? How dare you be happy just as you are? How dare you value your own values and drummer over the screams of Instagram, Twitter, and all other social media? And the target starts to appear.

Mean Control People want to break your spirit and bring you back into line. They want to take your question mark and understand you and make you predictable and just as boring as they are. Then you aren't different and in their estimation "better." They are just mean. I hate to tell you kiddo, but your only answer for them is to pray for them and love them no matter how badly they treat you. Only God can deal with their hearts.

Now sneaky Control People will tell you it's just a joke so they can keep you close and under observation. Secretly they want to know how you pull it off. And this my darling,  is where you get to change their world. Start a conversation. "Wow. Your sense of humor is very different from mine. You know what I find funny?..." And then tell them a joke or show them a video. Bring them into your question mark world a little. They make comments on your clothes?  You ask where they got theirs. Not because you intend to shop there, but because it shows them you are interested in them. It's OK to say, "Your shirt is very different. Not really MY style but that's what makes America great, right? "

I pray every day that you will keep your question mark. It terrifies and sometimes bugs the snot out of me but I know that's what makes you you. You are my question mark. You make it all interesting.

I love you child.
Your Zookeeper