Like Steve Martin,
I was born a poor black child...
.. and (unlike Steve Martin) the youngest of nine.
As you might imagine being the youngest of nine all I really longed for was to stand out from "the crowd", to distinguish myself, but I immediately ran into a problem; all the adjectives seemed to be taken already.
Greta was talented; Terry, creative; Roger, handy; Ray, funny; Pat, athletic; Judy, smart; Jo-Ann, beautiful; and Jimmy; oldest and all that it implied.
Parents sometimes ask how their children can be so different from one another, despite sharing the same home and upbringing, as the youngest of nine, I can't help but think, “How can they not be?!” After all, our differences is what makes us unique. So like most kids in that situation, determined to shake off my default noun; baby, I set off to find an adjective of my own. After a life that included being a foot model, country singer, hair stylist, microfiche document personnel for Goldman Sachs, personal make-up artist to Mother Love & Whitney Houston, mother, homemaker, business owner, preschool teacher, nurse, children’s author/song writer & edu-tainer, I finally realized that my adjective is: OPEN.
I am open to CHANGE.
I am open to STRUGGLE with the intent to over come.
I am open to LOVE.
I am open to SHARING.
I am open to LIFE!
One of my favorite children’s books is The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. It’s a perfect illustration of how when we combine our differences for good, something wonderful can happen! We are all born with a purpose and though many of us may share an adjective or two, look closely and you will see there is something unique only to you, and that thing is what the world has been waiting for. That thing is your magic carpet that will take you around the world, to the moon, deep into humanity and back again. When you embrace your adjective life suddenly becomes an adventure.
While it may be nice to have a kid that safely sticks to the path and avoid the brush, try to remember that the kid blazing their own trail (through that patch of poison ivy no less), may be the next Steve Bezos or Whoopi Goldberg or Julie Chen or Common. Or Dr. Hadiyah-Nichole Green, Ph.D. who veered from the path of optical communications and lasers to pioneer a groundbreaking nano- particle cancer treatment. Yep...she's literally helping to cure cancer!
I believe each child comes with their own story written on their DNA. And we adults have the gift of hindsight and experience to help make their journey the most fruitful and enjoyable experience their life has to offer. Every kid deserves the joy of finding their own adjective, even if it means that you just may have to pack a bottle of calamine lotion for the journey.
Until next time, remember child development is human development