Encouraging, embracing child’s quirks

These moms live among the Martha Stewart moms, the overachievers and the do-it-allers. Do they know something we don’t? I pondered this as I watched my daughter and her friend participate in a local talent show raising money for charity.

The show began. Two young kids walked on stage and began to play their string instruments. Oh boy, they sounded like young prodigies. Next up, a group of hip hoppers. Matching outfits, choreography, maybe they are semi-professionals. By the time my daughter was up, I realized her act may not blend in.

She and her friend got up on stage with tie dye T-shirts and sweats and chanted as they jumped up and down, “Fishheads, fishheads, roly-poly fishheads.” I think it was a knockoff of a YouTube video they loved. And the audience loved them. They were being goofy, unpressured kids bringing a breath of fresh air into the room. No Bach, no super talent, just fun. I beam with pride.

That day I earned the label ‘fishhead mom.’ What can I say? I gave my daughter the freedom to choose her own act. Just like any mom, I encourage my children’s talents, academic success and ability to be a good person. It is just that my kids are able to explore being a child in a child’s way when possible. There is enough pressure and structure in kids’ lives these days without parents adding to them.

I have noticed a growing pool of fishhead moms. I’ve seen them in the halls, the carpool lines, letting their kids take the lead and giving them some space.

This is not to say that the Martha Stewarts, over-achievers, do-it-allers don’t have a lot to teach me and my fellow fishhead moms. They certainly do. We would be lost without them. But let’s all slow down and remember what is important about being a child. After all, childhood is fleeting, but it is not a race. We all have the same goal of raising good, successful human beings.

Missy Kanter lives with her family in Deerfield.

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