Think back to when your younger years. Do you remember that quirky kid from school?
You know the one I'm talking about. This individual was socially awkward; they tried hard but the complexities of unspoken social rules were far too confusing for them to understand. They were smart with above average to remarkably high IQs but their intelligence was not always reflected in their report cards. Your parents probably liked them more than you liked them. They fidgeted during quiet times, exhibited wild if not odd imaginations, laughed when inappropriate, or displayed obsessions with particular subjects or activities. They demonstrated either an extreme attraction or aversion to auditory, visual, olfactic, tactile, or gustatory stimuli. Bossy. Creative. Disorganized. Absent-minded. If conditions were right, one person could have possessed each of these traits. There was no better way to describe them than with the word quirky.
You can probably recall a former classmate that fits that profile. Perhaps even more than one. I remember a kid like that. I was that kid.
Back then, psychiatrists tried to explain it by saying I had ADD. I am not confident I would receive the same prognosis today. The more accurate diagnosis would be Asperger Syndrome. If doctors and psychologists knew back then what they know today, my story would have taken a much different plot line.
Now, I've grown from a quirky kid into a quirky parent of a quirky kid. This paradox is a mixed bag of blessing and stress.
I'm a first hand witness to his wonderful creations; from one-man plays to Minecraft mansions. I am first in line to hear his philosophical musings and to be stumped by his thought provoking questions. He and I geek out over shared interests: comic books, Doctor Who, architecture, and fantasy liturature. As he's aged, I've held my breath as I watched him develop his own version of autonomy. Despite the successes, heartbreak exists. For my son, being quirky also includes navigating the treacherous paths of schoolyard bullies, loneliness, and social stigma.
I've been there. I know how he feels. It is not easy to convey the lessons I learned. But there is progress. And I have hope.
Why hope? Because I believe that the future ahead of my son is brighter than anything that lies behind us. A future where he plans on becoming a billionaire inventor. A future where he is able to build deep and lasting friendships. A future where more people understand and accept those who are quirky.