How to nurture children to be smarter and happier?
My son has the highest social intelligence of anyone I’ve ever met.
Before he started high school he asked if I would take him school shopping.
He said he wanted to wear a suit and tie to school every day. I was flabbergasted.
“You are going to a new school where no one knows you. You can create yourself. You can be a jock. You can be a nerd. You can be an emo-kid. You can be a band-geek, or a stoner, or a dramatist. Why on earth, when you can be ANYTHING, would you pick, ‘weird kid?’”
He said, “Mom, there are 1,800 kids in my new school.
If I try to fit in and be like everyone else I will never find my friends.
But if I go to school every day looking so much like myself that people can tell who I am from across the gym, within two weeks I’ll have the entire school divided into two groups; a large group who want nothing to do with me, and a small group who are interested in getting to know me.
Give me another two weeks, and I’ll have the small group divided in two; a small group who know me well enough, and a tiny group of people who will end up being my friends for the rest of my life.”
I couldn’t argue with that. I took him to Goodwill, where he picked out women’s suits – in a size 2. He was tiny.
His time frame was off, though. It only took about 2 weeks for every single person in that high school to know who he was … and about the same length of time for him to find “his people.”
My son’s Freshman school picture, from my collection.
A few days after school started I was at my gym, and struck up a conversation with the young lady behind the desk.
Turned out she went to the same high school, and I asked her if she might know my son.
She asked what grade he was in, and I told her he was a Freshman.
She assured me she was a senior and didn’t know any Freshmen.
I said, “Well, you might know Campbell.”
“CAMPBELL is your SON? Of course I know Campbell. Everyone knows Campbell. He’s famous. He’s adorable. We senior girls have adopted him…” Evidently, my tiny son in a hat, suit, and tie had become all the rage…
A snapshot of my son as a junior, from my collection.
He’s 25 now – and the people he found in those first few weeks of high school are still among his best friends, despite having gone separate ways for college.
He doesn’t wear suits, ties, and hats anymore, but he knows how to be himself, and stand out in any crowd.
I’ve seen my son do a lot of amazing things.
He is an amazing artist and modeler, and will no doubt be a huge asset for some gaming start up or a lead at Pixar someday, where his people skills will be put to good use.
I’ve seen my son do a lot of amazing things, but this stands out as one of the best lessons he ever taught me.