My 8-year-old son Michael and I got into an interesting discussion not long ago. Walking to school, we spotted a cardinal in our neighborhood, among flocks of very ordinary brown birds.
And it got us to talking – did that bird have any idea how unusual and special it was? We were thinking “probably not.” After all, unlike people, birds don’t have mirrors, so it’s not like he (for some reason, I assumed this bird was a boy) could check himself out and admire his own red feathers, standing out among the hundreds of birds that look nothing like him.
It was actually a little mind-blowing to think about. After all, this bird was so different, that he caught our eye immediately, and yet he was just going about his business like every other bird, checking the ground for worms and probably hatching some fantastic plan to poop on my car. He had no idea that just his being different was enough to stop two people in their tracks to stare at him for a while.
As parents, we tell our kids every day how being different makes them special. Let’s be honest – sometimes, it’s just to make them feel better. Because the most valued thing to a lot of kids is NOT to be different or special – it’s to fit in and be just like everyone else.
I’m guessing that it’s a lot less complicated to be a bird. Wouldn’t it be great if no matter how we all looked, and no matter how we acted, we could just go about our day, not even realizing that we were different from all the others around us?