When my daughter was 3 years old, she dropped the bomb on us that she doesn’t like chocolate. As any responsible parent would do, we totally assumed she was being stubborn or disagreeable. Surely there isn’t an actual child that doesn’t like chocolate, and surely, it’s not MY child. However, as time progressed we discovered that indeed baby girl was just not a fan of the liquid gold that is chocolate. So, we adjusted. If we plan to have dessert we always make sure that there is a vanilla or strawberry option for my girl. (My husband and I have discussed how this will create challenges for her future boyfriends in the gift giving area, but then we had to entertain the idea of ‘future boyfriends’ so we quickly changed the subject.)
Being different is often difficult to manage. Although, I can honestly say that I never thought my daughter not liking chocolate would ostracize her in any way, but you know what they say about assuming. Last year when she entered Pre-K, things changed. She was introduced to the school birthday party. Typically, my precious girl would hop in the car after a fun filled day of preschool and joyfully tell me all about her day from start to finish. To my surprise, one day she jumped in the car almost sullen. I began the inquisition. Did someone hurt her? Did she get in trouble? Did she fall on the playground? All the questions. All of them returned with the same answer … no. She finally revealed that today was so-and-so’s birthday. We love birthdays at our house. We celebrate the whole month long and completely overdo it. So why was she so upset? The sweet mama of so-and-so brought chocolate cupcakes to school to celebrate. TRAGEDY! Baby girl was officially left out. The next birthday party a similar situation occurred, but this time with a giant chocolate chip cookie cake. Each time she noticed her difference more and more.
Being a mom, we always try to protect our kids from harm and prepare our children to face the world with courage. When my daughter looked at me one day and said, “Mom, you love chocolate. I wish I liked chocolate like you.” The only thing I could think to say to her was, “Baby, I love you more than chocolate.” She stopped for a moment, looked at me and without missing a beat said, “Mama, I love you more than vanilla.” From that moment, on she has owned her difference and gladly proclaims that she is a vanilla girl! As a happy coincidence our little saying has stuck and grown since that day. My baby girl has proclaimed that she loves me more than unicorns and rainbows, which carries significant weight to a five-year-old. Just recently my three-year-old son grabbed my arm while we were decorating the Christmas tree just to proclaim, “I love you more than Christmas.”
I tell you this little story for a couple of reasons. First, it’s okay to be different and it’s okay for your kids to be different. Whether it’s a small preference like not wanting chocolate or something more significant, being different is what makes us each unique and amazing.