All kinds of kids

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We’ve had to declare the school a Hug-free zone. Yes, you read that right. An actual Hug-free zone. No random hugs, no hugging teachers and no hugging friends when on school premises. Before you get the wrong idea, this is not a rant against my kids’ school. I love that place. In fact, I love it so much that my inner child tried to enrol when I wasn’t looking. Twice. And we haven’t had to enforce it with all three of our kids either. Just one. The one who naturally hugs people whether stranger or friend. The one who sees the world as a love-filled place and simply wants to share it. The one who I guess is a little… different.

Look, I see both sides of the story. I understand that schools need to cater for everyone and that some kids just aren’t that comfortable with an unexpected hug from a classmate. Or they don’t need hugs as often as my kid thinks they should have one. And I also understand the point of view that sees nothing wrong with spreading a little love around on a daily basis. I mean, who doesn’t love a hug? They’re just different perspectives from different kids. Each with needs as unique as themselves. There are all kinds of children.

There are those who are termed ‘normal’ and those who are termed ‘different’. There are those who are placed on spectrums and those who are labelled and those who can’t quite be placed in categories and those who are categorised to the hilt. There are exuberant ones and shy ones and studious ones and chatty ones. There are daydreamers and adventurers and wiser-than-their-years ones. But no matter how the world sees them, all of them without exception have a role to play on this planet we call home. All of them. And one of the (countless) jobs of being a parent is to help them discover what their unique gift is. To nurture that spark without accidentally snuffing it out. Tricky, right?

So how? Where do we start? Do we go out and sign them up for any and all extra-curricular activities that take the slightest of their fancy? Do we get them extra lessons in any subject they seem to enjoy? Do we try to ensure they spend time with high-achievers in the hope that it will somehow rub off on them? No, no and no. We do nothing. Yup. Absolutely nada, nil and zero.

And instead of doing nothing, we work on being their example of someone who knows their own unique gift and shares it with the world.

Ok stop! I can hear you. “But I don’t know what my unique gift is!”

Yes, you do.

Just because we live in a world where we put ‘gifted’ people up on a pedestal doesn’t mean we have to be a world-class singer or an Everest-climbing adventurer or an Oscar-winning actor in order to inspire others. Although if you turn out to be one of those, then great. A gift can be as simple as the way you always smile at a stranger or those green fingers that somehow always manage to produce the most incredible garden year after year. Or the way you can make anyone laugh no matter what their mood. It’s whatever makes you happy and allows you to spread that happiness to others. That’s your uniqueness and that is your gift. Discover your own and your child will be well on the way to discovering theirs. No matter how different they are. 

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Orla Breeze
Orla was born in Dublin, one of several children in a large Irish family. Yes, it was chaotic at times, but there was always someone to play Monopoly with! At 23, she moved to the UK to live a glamorous life in media. (Well, if you call living in Manchester glamorous.) Three years later, she was transferred to Hong Kong, where the glamour really began. (Well, if you call living on Lamma glamorous.) Fast-forward three years and, after a brief stint back in Ireland, she triumphantly returned to Hong Kong, where she wasted no time getting engaged, married and pregnant. After deciding it was time for a career change, she launched an online parenting magazine whilst training in Emotional Freedom Techniques. Two more kids, a move to the UK, and yet another triumphant return to Hong Kong later, Orla now runs a variety of parenting workshops, which you can learn about at www.orlabreeze.com.

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