As part of our cease fire arrangement, Raffy and I have been spending time together with his dad. We all went out for lunch yesterday at a lovely walled garden in Cobham where they have a lovely little kids area with a huge sandpit. There were about 8 kids aged about 3-5 playing in there that all seemed to already know each other. Raffy, being more of an observer, found a little rake and started digging nearby. The other kids were attempting to dig to China so were all huddled together and Raffy was on the outside.
Neal and I were sat on the wall doing the usual parent thing of trying to figure out if your child is normal/unsociable/too shy/absolutely fine when we got chatting to another mum and she introduced her super cute daughter, Nelly. As soon as Raffy had one separated from the herd, he was completely different. He made a new game of running from one end of the sand pit to the other, all the while calling, “come on, Nelly!”. She loved it.
Within a couple of minutes, all of the other kids had abandoned their China mission and they were running with Raffy, from one end to the other shouting, “Ready, steady, go!”. Neal and I sat there, transfixed watching our little boy as he casually slotted into the group doing his own thing. So proud, I thought to myself, don’t ever change.
I know that as children grow older and go through school and friendships, conformity feels far safer than standing alone. The ability to conform is important in life as it’s essential for team work and eases relationships. The whole school system is engineered to churn out little robots that all play by the rules. Raffy’s individuality is something that I feel I need to protect, as it’s the key to a blissful childhood but also as I believe that it is what makes a successful adult. The ability to know what you want, be honest and creative are such important skills. Skills which are lost through excessive conforming. So what if you prefer apples to bananas, are the only one with curly hair or what ever else that makes you stand out. Wouldn’t it be lovely if our children were able to see people’s differences as strengths and inspiration, rather than as a way to knock them down?