We're More Alike Than Different

I've spent the better part of my life comparing myself to other people and coming up short every time. Someone else was always prettier than me, smarter than me, more talented, more popular, whatever.

That has not stopped now that I am an adult. She is thinner than me, a better mother than me, more successful than me.

This even extends, unfortunately, to my children. That kid is more well-adjusted than my kid, that kid is a better athlete than my kid, that kid is more normal than my kid.

Why, oh, why, have I not learned that this is a waste of my precious time and sanity?

Appearances can be so deceiving, people. We all know that. We've all fallen victim to the "highlight reel" of someone else's life via Facebook. The beautiful family pictures, vacation photos, status about someone's wonderful husband, perfect kids, or killer run (gag).

But what is really hiding there in the shadows? Is everything as it seems? Or does everyone have flaws and "issues?"

I think the answer to that is a big fat "Yeppers!"

I worry a lot about my son Slim. About him fitting in, having friends, being quirky, not being like all the other kids.

He has a lot of qualities that I had when I was growing up. I preferred to stay inside reading a book rather than playing with my siblings and the neighborhood kids. I loved television and would recite commercials and jingles. I didn't like crowds of kids all competing to talk. And I was never one of the cool kids.

I went with Slim's third grade class to the zoo this week. All 90 kids were in small groups of about five or six with one adult. I wasn't going to chaperon because I didn't have a babysitter for Lil' C and Baby E. But every day in Slim's assignment notebook was a note from him saying, "Please come to the zoo, Mom."

How could I possibly say no to that sweetness? Plus, I figured I could help keep an eye on Slim so he wouldn't wander off from the group. So, I told the teacher we would meet the class at the zoo and walk along with the group.

Over the course of the day, I noticed things that I have noticed before, but they were needed reminders for me. At times, like during lunch with 90 chaotic children, Slim was walking along the outside edge of the group, picking up all the lunch trash that was getting blown by the gusty winds. So, he was alone, but doing something good.

And even though he wasn't hanging out with a group of guys, from every group that passed by us came genuine calls of, "Hi Slim!" The kids in his group were even asking him some questions about animals because they know how much he loves and knows so much about so many of them.

And in looking around at the other children, there were some other odd little ducks as well - kids with their own sets of quirky behaviors.

And there were kids who were naughty and out of line in what they were doing. And if their moms would have been there, they would have been appalled.

My child, well, he was a perfect angel all day. It was just his kind of field trip. His kind of perfect day looking at animals on a day that the zoo was not crowded at all.

Photo by Stuart Semple featured
on veggierevolution.blogspot.com
Pretty "normal" stuff.

Yep, he's pretty much a normal eight-year-old kid. Because they all have quirks, you know.

We all have quirks, you know.

And that makes us all more alike than different.

A lot of the animals had babies with them. I am always fascinated watching the interaction of mama animals with their babies. There was a mama monkey who had two young monkeys swinging and playing near her while she watched. The smaller of the two swung over to her and started climbing on her. She pushed him away and bared her teeth at him.

What a bitch, I thought as a first reaction.

But then, this little monkey started to fall off the branch, and the mama caught him and held on to him until he was steady. And then she pulled him in to a quick little hug.

And my heart melted into a knowing smile. I saw myself in that mama. My kids bug me when they won't knock off their crazy behavior, but I adore them and would do anything to keep them safe.

I am not a monkey, nor am I skinny or perfect or any other woman but me. Just because I don't know someone well or at all, doesn't mean that I can't find a connection between us. That I can't find something that is alike about us rather than all the ways we are different, just as Slim is more like kids his age than he is different.

And at a time when everyone wants to be different and distinguish themselves from everyone else, I tend to think that it would help us all, as children and adults, to see ourselves as not so different from one another after all.

What about you? Are you more comfortable being different and unique or alike and blending in?

Let's talk about it on Facebook!

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