“So, you’re Oscar’s mom?”
I nod my assent and settle into my spot as the parent in the parent/teacher conference that is about to unfold.
I wait patiently for the next sentence, the next word, the insight I long for, the glimpse of who my son is outside the four walls and comfort of our home.
And then it comes.
“Well, Oscar is a little . . . cue the dramatic pause . . . quirky.”
I took a breath and responded the way I often do when I’m not sure how to respond—with a self-deprecating joke and a quick deflection.
And then we moved on.
The word is loaded with connotation—both positive and less-than-positive.
His teacher could see him as a true original or as simply odd. Both are replete with judgment—but one has the power to lift him up, the other ostensibly to weigh him down.
For me, as a mother, though, I embrace the quirky, cultivate it even, encourage him in word and, I hope, in deed, to stand out without showing off.
But the net result, perhaps even the cost, of this, I suppose, is that there will be those who reduce him to quirky in the worst sense of the word, who have a sense of what “normal” is and note that he doesn’t fit it.
I will never know how Oscar’s teacher defines the word “quirky” or how she truly sees my son. I didn’t ask, and I won’t. I simply said that I saw it as a compliment and proceeded to discuss his classroom performance.
And then I went home to my quirky sons—all of them—and felt like the luckiest mother in the world.