“Other people just love you for who you are and how you are, no matter what you look like.”

We’re reading the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. Wonder had its moment in the sun a few years ago ‘cause it was a hit young teen book that was turned into a movie that I just found out tonight has maybe Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson in it. I don’t know, we’re gonna try to watch it tomorrow. But, you know, it’s about a student born with a disfigured face and his struggle through fifth grade in New York City, ultimately leading to his acceptance for who he is. And, you know, there’s a point in the book where his dad reveals that – the main character’s name is August, A K A Auggie, the dad reveals that he threw away Auggie’s space helmet that he used to wear to obscure his face. He used to go to the playground and rock a literal space helmet ‘cause he was so embarrassed about how he looked. And the dad reveals that that space helmet was not lost. He had thrown it away, which crushed Auggie ’cause he loved that helmet, and the dad went on this short monologue, saying like “I hated it because I couldn’t see you man, and like I wouldn’t change a thing and I love everything about you. I love how you look, I wouldn’t change anything. You don’t understand how much I just want to see you.” And it was a moment or an opportunity for me to discuss with my classroom, how like that’s just as true for me as I saw my class, sincerely. But I talked about the complication there because it was so easy for me to look in the mirror and and notice my own imperfections, and I can be logical about them. “Well, we’ve all got them, whatever.” But I still have those feelings of self-consciousness nonetheless. You know, I’ve got a good sized Adam’s apple. I have a mole over my lip that – not over my lip but kind of above my mustache area that no one even notice or care about, but every now and again I look at it, I’m like, “Is that a little too big? Is that mole just a little too noticeable? I don’t know. Do the other people notice it?” But real quickly, I think of, like, how I perceive others that I know, and that I love, or that I care for, or all of the above. And I wouldn’t change a single thing, and I told my kids that too. I said maybe you guys are all about how you look and good for you if you are. But you know, I know the feeling of looking in the mirror sometimes and and wondering about yourself. You know, “Why do I look like this, and why don’t I look more like something else? Why do I have this thing? Why are my ears like this?” And I said, “I just want you to know and I mean this sincerely, like I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of you. Like when I see you, that’s you. And without that stuff, it wouldn’t be you, and I like you, you know?” And I’m not going to front like everybody clapped, but like you try to pick up on these subtle signs when you talk to kids and talk to classes, as to whether they’re picking up what you’re throwing down. And I do feel like I had a number of students who were keyed in on that particular point of discussion and seemed to understand it and take it in. I feel like I saw some, like, light nods from kids who maybe needed to hear it. I like to think, I like to think maybe they needed to hear it. Maybe they don’t. Maybe I accidentally made them self-conscious by saying we all have things that we’re not pleased with, and maybe they went home and like “Oh, I didn’t realize I had weird stuff.” But I have no regrets. I think sometimes it just has to be said to everyone, you know? Everyone needs to know because it’s true probably 99 times of a hundred, if not a hundred times out of a hundred, that other people just love you for who you are and how you are, no matter what what you look like.

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