Asian Conical Hat

A cycle is nothing more than an unwanted, near unstoppable tradition, you know, bastard cousin of the pattern, standing haughtily in condescending judgment of habit, mistress of addiction, surrogate of guilty pleasure, toady, acerbic and unsalvageable. Feverish, urgent writing is the quiet, different child recommended for one-on-one tutoring, followed by public salary, over-enrolled classroom resignation and distant gazes among weary-eyed parental flagellation. I am different, you say for her, her nose in a notebook tracing the unimaginable lines to forever landscapes and moonlit beings. I am different and that is a relief have you seen what passes for normal? Oh child, you are the unexplainable dread of the check engine light well before the warranty expires. My poor, sweet Naya, with your sudden fascination of conical Asian hats and whimsical desire to be a pretty Vietnamese girl and maddening sketches of feral revenge. All the other daughters in our great extended family are showered with public professions of love after walking through the mud of private confessions of disappointment. I don't know if you will ever understand what I mean when I describe that my sentiment for you is as different as you apparently are from all those other students your teacher wants you to be. It is not a hallmark card, but one of your tragic drawings, a strange notion of wanting to cover you in an avalanche or bare teeth at a pack of wolves or otherwise set my immoveable will against some unstoppable threat. You make me wonder what it would be like to spread out both arms and legs against the drain hole as my life passes and whisper warnings through the trees as you navigate the length of the road ahead of you. I am so sorry that we seem so stressed by your progress because we too easily forget that you are the destination, sweet, sweet girl.


I'd like to think that there was a time and place in the past where standing out and being different was revered, but I fear that looking for it would be a fool's errand. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but not all opinions are worth considering. Let teachers teach more of that and less of the sheep-based method of getting along in the world.
eclectic said…
We must compare notes and commiserate someday. Carter is told (or not told) in various ways daily that he is inadequate, lacking or fatally flawed in some significant way because he cannot, will not conform at school. It is heart-breaking, soul-crushing and frustrating to his parents, with a side of self-doubt and self-incrimination thrown in for good measure. Parenting is a hell of a thing.
matt said…
I don't know Naya, but I know Carter, and I've known other students/ kids/ children that are "different," and good god, if only people would recognize how often "different" is better... I'm sorry, is what I think I'm trying to say, Brandon, I'm sorry. Also: teaching's a hell of a way to fail.
Brandon said…
i like that she's different, but the occasional reminder doesn't hurt. i know it can't be my parenting, because i spend all that time teaching her poker and how to choose a good cigar. i'm not going to be a part of the system.
jenny said…
I have two nephews. One who excels at everything and is a parents' dream and one who is prone to emotional outbursts and sits in corners sketching dragons, and making entire suits of clothing out of duct tape.

While I adore them both with every ounce of my heart, I am most excited to see the wonderfully odd and interesting adult that my tear-stained, duct taped nephew will become.

I think he and Naya might get along.

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