I’m an avid watcher of the show SpongeBob Square pants – not by choice though. My kids love it. My 3 year old was basically passed the SpongeBob torch from her older brother, so I’m on my second go-round of seeing every single episode of SpongeBob ever recorded. After seeing them all a dozen or so times, my favorite one, hands down, is the one titled ‘Not Normal’, and is an episode where Squidward asks SpongeBob why he’s not normal, or something to that effect, and after much soul searching SpongeBob reluctantly succumbs to the peer pressure, and slowly starts transforming himself into what he thinks is normal. What SpongeBob finds out in the end is that he doesn’t want to be what society thinks is ‘normal’ and he would much rather be himself and live his life the way he wants to, no matter what others think of him.
I recently started thinking about this recently and realized that from this SpongeBob episode I had learned a very important lesson. It seemed weird that a show that many parents will not let their children watch, reinforced a very important message, and one I think more kids should learn. Society in itself, regardless of what you see on the reality TV shows, can be very judgmental if you are anything other than what they think is considered ‘normal’. However I do think it is slowly getting better in some areas, and in certain social groups, and in the more progressive parts of the world. When I was a kid things were so black and white that if you even thought about crossing the line of ‘normal’ you were immediately ridiculed. Now, it’s common to see more people who live in their alternative lifestyles, and as a side note here: why do we have to call someone’s own personal life style ‘alternative’? That just doesn’t seem right to me. Sadly, there will always be those who are quick to judge and turn their backs on others that aren’t identical to them and their views and that they don’t understand.
I’m raising my kids in a way where I want their individuality to come alive and I want each of my 3 kids to develop into their own personalities, and to become what they truly want to be. I won’t prohibit them from exploring whatever they chose to, as long of course it’s not something that is illegal, unethical or harmful to themselves or others. If you take a step back and look at all of the people in history that have molded and shaped our world into what it is today, how many of them were considered in their day and time ‘not normal’? Off the top of my head: Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Mozart, Mark Twain and a slew of others.
In my opinion we should let our kids be themselves, let them explore, invent, shape, mold, discover, and let them know, that it is okay for them to be ‘not normal’ , and just hope that one day we will all be considered normal regardless of color, gender, lifestyle or religious preferences.
But now that I sit back and think about it – who wants to be normal anyway?