Nate wore his Spiderman costume tonight when we went out for dinner. His brother begged him not to, and even spent a few minutes trying to wrestle it off of him, but in the end Nate won the battle and we had Spiderman join us for dinner.
It’s not Halloween, there was no costume party, and no one else was wearing a costume. However, my 8 year old son with developmental disabilities didn’t care at all. He wasn’t embarrassed, ashamed, insecure or secretive about his costume. He wore it proudly and without an ounce of shame. He felt awesome and strong and ready to fight crime if it arose.
As opposed to Nate, I am a person who never wears costumes. In fact I don’t like flashy clothes in general. I don’t wear attention-grabbing hats or have a glittery cell phone. I’m content (and I prefer) to blend with the crowd and to not draw too much attention my way.
I am incredibly envious of what Nate lacks: self-consciousness, insecurity, self-criticism, ego and bending to peer pressure. He wastes no time thinking about how he could make more people like him, and he shows his true, unadulterated self every where he goes. He doesn’t second-guess himself or agonize about what he may have done to make someone not like him. He’s proud to be exactly who he is.
Of course peer-pressure and self-consciousness have their place, and we all need to conform to some degree in order to live productive, successful lives in this day and age. If Nate conformed more, he’d probably be doing better in school, have a few more friends, and not be struggling so much with his learning. He might even talk more and sit more quietly in public. He’d also be a lesser version of Nate, and one that would be subject to other people’s idea of what “awesome” is.
I am thankful every day for the example Nate sets for myself and my family. I strive for his confidence, his sense of identity, his humor and his joy! I’ll leave the costumes and crime fighting to him!