I'm thinking about this today because of my son, Charlie. To look at him, he doesn't seem like he'd be a part of the crowd that he hangs with. All of his friends tend to dress like, what I'd call, preppies. They all wear the preppy brand clothes and they sport the new styled 'do's'. Charlie, well, not so much. Charlie wears the black band tee's, baggy and ripped jeans, and long hair. What's really funny is that the kids who dress like Charlie, Charlie doesn't want to hang around with because he says that they are into things that he wants to stay away from. You can fill in the blanks there. Occasionally when Charlie talks about a new friend, my mind immediately pictures someone like Charlie and every time I meet them, it just always amazes me at how 'clean cut' they are. All of Charlie's friends are A and B students...again, Charlie, not so much. I wonder, if when the parents of Charlie's friends meet Charlie, they're as surprised with how he looks as I am when I meet his friends...and if when they meet Charlie if warning bells go off because of how he looks.
You see, Charlie reminds me of, well...me. The poor kid looks just like me. I know he has to get tired of everyone telling him that. What young man wants to be told he looks like his mother. But, he does. He's also got my sense of humor, which is a mark against him. My humor in a kid's body just gets him in trouble. Trust me, I know this first hand. He's also got my 'dreams'. He's not a logical thinker like his brother, but a dreamer. Being a dreamer is a great thing, unless the dreams get in the way of focusing on what's important now. Sometimes we believe (we dreamers) that everything will turn out the way we want and we don't need to plan today for tomorrow. It's really hard to persuade a young dreamer that you need to start building your tomorrows today, because they see all their tomorrows turning out like they do in their dreams. Reality is hard to accept for a dreamer.
When I was young I was into punk rock, cut my hair off and dyed it purple, wore the rag torn clothes, and safety pins in my ears. Not when I was Charlies age, but early 20's...about 5 years older than Charlie. I didn't hang around with anyone who looked like me, my friends were fairly conservative people that somehow found something in me worth befriending.
The one thing that Charlie and all of his friends have in common; strict parents. All of Charlie's friends have parents who want to know where they are and who they are with. Every one of his friends parents have came in to meet me when they bring their son over or I've gone in to meet them if I've taken Charlie there. I've talked on the phone with parents making sure who will be with whom and where and at what times. If this sounds normal for you, take my word on this, it isn't. It should be, but it isn't. I've come to realize that this is what Charlie has in common with his friends, their foundations are the same.
And I've come to realize that the thing that differs Charlie from the kids that look like him but he chooses to stay away from, is the lack of similarities in their 'foundation'. These kids hang out on the corners and in the parking lots way into the night. They fight. Their language is foul. They smoke and that's as far as I'm taking it because this is all I've seen first hand.
Parents; even a plant will not survive without attention and nurturing.
So, I started out talking about 'freaks'. I'm coming into the realization that Charlie's choosing to be his own person, though he may appear to be a 'freak' compared to his friends appearances, is a bold move. It's as much a choice for him to choose to look like HIMSELF as it is for him to choose to not hang around with kids who look like him but are making poor choices. He must be very confident in himself to choose to stand out in his crowd rather than to fit in with the wrong crowd.
I'm really proud of my kid.