A misfit among misfits


The kid looked out of place in the waiting room.

His glasses were smudged and he couldn’t stop fidgeting in his chair. He kept bouncing his feet up and down on the chair and accidentally kicking his mother. She had it with him. She kept telling him to stop and he kept telling her that he was bored.

When I looked at him, I couldn’t help but think of myself at the same age. Like him, I had thick glasses; my hair curled this way and that, never seeming to flow in one direction; my clothes usually were rumpled or grass-stained from playing outside; and, when I moved, I moved in herky jerky, skittish movements, constantly hitting the kid next to me on the bus or one of my brothers at the dinner table.

I liked playing sports — any sport for that matter — but I wasn’t an athlete. I liked to read, but I wasn’t an academic. I liked talking with friends, but was far from being gregarious.

I was a misfit.

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Know one to see one

He seemed to fit the same general description. He scooted off his chair and picked up a ball that was sitting in a corner and played with it for a few minutes before throwing it aside. He picked up a kids book with a golden retriever on the cover, looked at it for a few seconds and closed it shut loudly with both hands.

I remember acting out like he did. Nothing seemed to keep my interest. I remember feeling that way for the longest time until I started to get older. I started to read bigger and bigger books. I started to grow into my own body. A teacher I had took an interest in me and believed in me. I stopped worrying about how I would sometimes stammer and become tongue-tied.

In short, I worried less about being a misfit and more about being true to myself.

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Good luck little dude

When he started running back-and-forth in the waiting room, I asked his mother how old he was. She had an exhausted look on her face and said he was a few months short of turning four. I told her that he reminded me of myself at that age. She smiled and told him to stop. I told her that he was fine and that he wasn’t bothering me. I asked: “What else are you supposed to do in a silly waiting room?”

I watched him a few minutes more until my name was called. Before turning to leave, I turned back and told her, “hang in there, you’ll both be just fine.”

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