Preemptive disclaimer: you’re not going to believe any of this. You’re 11. You’re highly concerned about what other kids will think of you. Psychologically, you have a hard time realizing that everyone is too worried about themselves to think about you and your imperfections. That’s not your fault, but in 5 years you’ll look back and realize middle school is just a weird time for everybody.
That being said, last time I saw you, you told me you weren’t cool. Here’s why you’re wrong, and why I think you are honestly one of the coolest people I’ve ever known:
1) You have an unbelievable understanding of stereotypes and social justice issues that goes beyond that of many of my classmates at college. I will never forget at Christmas when we were discussing the struggles of having long hair. You admitted you couldn’t empathize, your sister Devon told you it was because you were a boy, and you responded, “It’s not because I’m a boy, it’s because I don’t have long hair.”
Whether or not you realize it, that demonstrates such forward thinking. You are capable of separating people’s actions and traits from their gender. You’ve never particularly adhered to the gender binary (heck, as a three-year-old you used Uncle Bob’s birthday gift of a plastic fishing rod as a vacuum, and I’m pretty sure he wanted to disown you at that moment). I know that is mostly just how you’ve been raised, but I am incredibly proud of how you challenge illogical stereotypes and refuse to let them dictate your perceptions of others.
2) You are wholeheartedly passionate and curious. When you find something you are interested in, you put your entire heart into it. I love that you’ve become fascinated by claymation, and it’s not just because I felt the same way about it at your age. I think it has taught you a lot about what elements make a story, how to develop a plot, and how to target sources of humor. It’s one thing to enjoy reading, but it’s another thing to create your own stories, and I’m so glad claymation has given you an outlet for that.
I think your movie making has also taught you a lot about patience and learning by doing, both of which will seriously benefit you both in interpersonal relationships and in your professional life. Going to Coraline with you at OMSI and seeing how excited you were about learning what goes on behind the scenes and how fearlessly you talked to one of the mold makers for the movie about his start into animation was incredible to me. I love to see ambition, and I’m so glad I see it in you.
3) You are able to teach me about the world, which is no easy feat for someone so young. We had a whole conversation about social media and the different purposes and demographics that each social network has. You asked me, “Do you consider YouTube a social network?” and it sparked observations about how people interact online and offline and the power of community and relationships. You were able to explain to me how my animosity towards Google+ is a function of my generation, and your prediction about how it will be your age group’s Facebook shows your innate ability for analysis.
You are smart, good-hearted, and driven. You inspire me to love the things I enjoy with the same fervor you do. And guess what? You’re cool.
I hope someday soon you’ll see it.