Labels & Kids; Can I Avoid ‘Nerd’, ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Stinky Pants’?

Yesterday I read an article about an American muslim mom (On Telling My Children They Are Not Terrorists) and what it was like growing up in Florida and what it’s like for her kids growing up now amidst all the ‘terrorist scares’. I have to admit I can totally understand. Well in a way I guess. Growing up in Toronto in the 80s and 90s, we obviously didn’t have the whole ‘terrorist’ issue to deal with. And my 5year old A. and 1 year J. are still not in any position to experience anything, being that we just moved from Egypt where they’ve been living all their lives.

But I can still relate. Growing up I always felt different. My parents weren’t like other parents. I couldn’t date, couldn’t drink, didn’t celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Easter and so on. Add to that my age difference (I skipped a year, so was the youngest girl in class), my different cultural and religious background and my social disabilities; I couldn’t (can’t) make friends easily and was a bit of a loner and rebel. I was pretty much a poster child for the classic unpopular geek/nerd portrayed in movies.

My parents relocated to Egypt when I was in junior high school. Which means that I don’t know how I would have blossomed had we continued in Canada. But I do know I blossomed in Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, I was still different. Not in terms of culture and religion but in pretty much every other aspect. And it’s back in egypt and the upper economic class that I grew up among that I started dating. And was subjected to drinking, drugs and such, maybe even more than I would have experienced in Canada. I was still the rebel, the nerd, the geek. But this time I rejoiced in the difference. I embraced it because it made me who I am.

And now I have kids and am back to square one. A. is a miniature copy of me in terms of character, temperament and personality, if not looks. In him I see all the trials and tribulations I went through as a child. And it cuts me up. I don’t want him to be lonely. I don’t want him to end up playing alone on the playground because he doesn’t know how to befriend kids. And now I have to add another worry to my list; I don’t want him labeled a terrorist, a savage or a backward.

Life always finds a way to catch up with us. So no matter how far you run, eventually you will have to face that big bad wolf one day. And my monster has arrived. So how does an ADHD, unsocial and awkward mama who currently has no friends in the city she lives in help her equally ADHD, unsocial and awkward son build his social skills? I don’t want him to be voted ‘most popular boy in school’. I just want him to have good and sincere friends he can always count on.

And on that note, I end my week. With the major challenge up ahead all I can do is try, keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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