It is winter break. My kids are enjoying their time off by brawling and screaming a lot. Much of the day, I can barely hear myself think. But in the quieter moments (It’s all relative), when I have the time and presence of mind to listen, these are the conversations that find the space to grow.
Buddy (6yo): Mom, (pause) why do people call kids with glasses “nerds”?
Me (Rehearsing an answer in my head, while recounting all the times he’s refused to wear his glasses recently): Because you’re smarter than they are and it’s intimidating, or more probably, their parents find smart people intimidating and taught their children to do the same.
No, no, no…. Don’t be part of the problem. Try again.
Me (out loud): Because people poke fun at what they don’t understand, and it seems they don’t understand that your eyes are a little different and need glasses to help them see better. Did someone call you a nerd?
Buddy: Yeah… one of my best friends, and a couple other people.
Me (annoyed): “Nerd” is what people sometimes call smart people with or without glasses.
He nods, looking pensive, and there’s a pause… the pause that suggests this momma is stewing… I take a deep breath and begin…
Me (highly animated, picture enthusiastic hand gestures and a slight head waggle): You know who’s a nerd, Buddy? Do you? Your momma is a nerd. And you know what else? Your daddy is a nerd, too.
Buddy: Really? (pause, slow grin starting to form on his face)
Me: It’s true, you come from a nerd family. And I’ll tell you something else… Nerds run the world.
Buddy: I didn’t know that. (more relaxed but still not sure he believes me)
The conversation turns to other random topics. I don’t remember what they were. Then, at the next lull in conversation, Buddy, who is completely obsessed with Minecraft, asks if people can really build islands “in real life.”
I immediately think of the Palm Islands in Dubai, and I answer, “Yes, they sure can.”
Buddy: Really? How do they do that?
Me: Some nerds got together and figured out how to do it. So the next time someone calls you a “nerd”, you look that person straight in the eye and say, “Thank you!”
Buddy: And they won’t know what that really means… But I do!
And that’s when the biggest dimpled grin spread across his beautiful bespectacled face.