Oh, the people we meet…last week, 12 yr old C and I, were ordering a cell phone for him as a rite of passage into middle school. It was a busy Saturday afternoon at a kiosk of a grocery store (shout out to the mobile shop inside the Loblaws at College Square!). The customer service guy was new and slow as he was learning the ropes. We made small talk. He reversed some numbers that he was inputting and had to redo it but then he suddenly stopped.
He asked C if he knew what dyslexia was. C shook his head. I stepped in to tell him that it is a learning disability like he has but a different type. The service guy stopped in his tracks, told him that learning disabilities can be overcome by accepting yourself and being open about it, by finding ways to accommodate the disability and by finding your super power.
It was one of those moments where you feel you are truly put in a spot to hear a particular message. It ended up being an hour and a half visit and as the service guy sent us off with a new cell phone he said to C …“Go Find Your Superpower!”
This has been sitting with me as I’ve been wondering if I should go back to tell him what this meant to me and maybe, one day, to C as well. Though, somehow that seems strangely awkward. Instead, I’ll put my words here.
Can it be as simple as that – to FIND YOUR SUPERPOWER! ? Can kids or, rather, we, as people, really flourish by simply being accepted, working around our limitations, not being ashamed of our limitations and finding our own superpower?
Don’t we all want and need to be accepted for who we are? Well it is no different for kids, whether they are what we call “neurotypical” (no known needs) or “challenging”. We can’t change what other people accept but we can control our own acceptances. If a child needs to move while learning or needs to wear a certain color shirt all the time or needs to chill out over video games after school or is ok with whatever – it needs to all be accepted! Does it matter the reason for this? Does it matter if it is because the child has a learning disability or if the child has parents who are not authoritarian or if the child is just going through a rough time at home? NOPE! Children can’t be expected to accept themselves in a world that doesn’t accept them. We need to do our part to be accepting of everyone including ourselves.
Work around our limitations!
I own a car but I am not a mechanic. I can do a lot of things but fixing cars is not one of them. I have accepted this limitation and have accepted that I need to ask for help from my auto mechanic and even pay that mechanic to give me that help. Yet, we find it soooo hard to accept our limitations with our own traits. If our memory is not great (an issue that I have), we tend to think that there is something wrong with us instead of just accepting that we need to seek help. I accept help in the form of to-do lists for this limitation but somehow I feel like this is different than if I accept help to fix my car. Really this is just a work around for my limitation. We need to raise our kids to seek and be ok with their own work arounds.
Subsequently, when we don’t accept our limitations, we feel shame for having them. I’m not sure there is a fix for this issue BUT I do believe that if we accept ourselves, and our limitations, then the shame will automatically go away. Children need to be and feel acceptance before they can accept themselves and before the shame can be set free.
Find your superpower!
Simply having acceptance, working around limitations, and not being ashamed will open us up to find our superpower. I know it! What is my super power? I’m organized, I’m a great mom, I’m a great communicator, those are my superpowers. And C – has he found his superpower despite and because of his learning disability? He has a style (long hair and a certain style of clothes) and he has an incredibly mature sense of humour which he is building by attending comedy classes. He is different and likes his differentness. I believe he has found his super power. The question is – when will he believe he has found his super power?