“The worst parent award goes to these people”
“This must be a really old picture, check out the phone cord and the ratty floors”
“That kid is f*cked for life.“
This is my Olivia, she was probably 5 or so. Olivia hears her own drummer and Olivia does Olivia. She wanted to be Pee Wee Herman, not for Halloween…for life. To live in a playhouse with amazingly wacky friends, sing, watch cartoons, scream magic words, and dance. The first doll Olivia asked for was not Barbie, it was Pee Wee. We obliged and I admit, I was kinda proud. She was not a follower, marching to pick up her brother in a floor length purple sequined tutu or dressed like Elmo, she just did her thing. I admire kids who just do themselves and don’t worry about what others think, it is not an easy path, but it is a path built on truth.
The comments above were posted on Pee Wee’s FB page. We had sent in the picture for his “dress like Pee Wee album” and honestly we had no idea how it would explode. Last time I looked, which was many many years ago, it had over 35,000 likes…hates…loves. The comments go from very complimentary to downright ruthless. Messages so mean I was hysterical laughing while also in fear for our lives. These people had decided we were horrific, for letting our kid…be a kid. While waiting for child services to arrive and take us away for unfinished floors and costuming out of season…we read the thread of hate, resisting the urge to respond. The best thing I ever did… was not respond.
I spent many of the past few years feeling the need to respond, to reason, plead, and convert those who did not see the big picture. Not about preferences or likes…about facts. I grew up understanding that people with different opinions could easily live in one house, they could even love each other. My dad a Republican, numbers guy, introvert…my mom a Democrat, artist, extra-extrovert. They respected each other, listened to each other, and read newspapers every day…so even when they didn’t agree on something, they agreed that facts were facts.
People see facts differently these days. Social media created the crazy situation where the people commenting on Olivia’s picture were speaking the truth they saw, so to them it was fact. To be fair, sometimes Greg and I are the worst parents…the rotary phone was old school…the floors were from 1920 (in the process of being replaced). What they got 1 million percent wrong is that my girl was anything but spectacular, there, they crossed the line.
We never know which comment might be the one that crosses the line. This is why I gave up my quest to chat with people with different interpretations of reality. I unfollowed, they unfollowed, somehow we just don’t see each other, and maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. Maybe we should just follow our own paths, and if we find each other again, it will probably be in a place where we are united in good for some reason or another.
This world is not always so kind to those who follow their own paths, to those who love what they love, to those who find joy in things that others do not understand. We need to change that and to embrace the beauty of a little girl in a red bow tie.
Life is good. Actual facts are important. Doing you…is amazing.