Monday, November 9, 2015

don't be cool

Dear Adelaide and Greer,

If you don’t know already, I think the two of you are the most fantastic human beings on the planet. Really. Your dad and I agree that there’s no one we’d rather hang out with than the two of you, and that’s a fact. Every day you get a little bigger, and we get to see a little bit more of who you are, and you know what? We like what we see. You are both so cute and funny and sweet that it makes me worry that my heart will explode like a confetti cannon and you’ll just have a messy confetti living room instead of a mother.

But here’s the thing to remember as you grow up: Don’t be cool. Just don’t. Coolness sounds like a good thing, but that’s a lie. The truth is that coolness is kind of a soul killer.
I remember a friend I had in elementary school. We always had a blast. But middle school happened and then coolness happened. (To her, not to me. I looked like this:

Yeah yeah yeah that's me, the crazy one in the middle holding hydrangeas for no apparent reason. As a side note, babies, people with frizzy triangle heads are not traditionally cool. Genetically, this may be your fate as well. We triangles have to learn how to be funny and then sneak in the back door of cool.  Which takes longer.)

My friend’s new tribe of people didn’t smile much, but when they did, it was a scary smile. The kind that makes your face turn red and wonder if you have something in your teeth or if your shirt is stupid or if you laughed too loud. The kind that makes you feel small and reminds you that you have fuzzy triangle hair.

I wanted to be in her tribe. Like REALLY bad. That’s the funny thing about cool. It pushes you down but you still want to cuddle up to it. Remember that, babies. You’ve got to always be careful around things that don’t hug back.

Cool shows up in different ways as we age, so you’ve got to always keep watch. Here are my theories:

In middle school it’s wearing the exact same thing as everybody else. In high school it’s appearing simultaneously low maintenance and hot. (Both are necessary. If you’re hot but not low maintenance, you’ll be mocked, but being low maintenance and not hot means you are irrelevant.) In college it’s being casual but carefully branded. (Specifically for us it was Polo v-neck t-shirt + J. Crew short khaki skirt + rainbow flip flops + Coach crossbody purse. Man oh man.) Post-college I think it’s just pretending to have your life together and never break a sweat because hey we are ADULTS now and we really need to appear to know what we are doing. A good job and the ability to take good Instagram photos doesn’t hurt either.

So in each stage we try to be cool, and when we pull it off, we feel vaguely superior and awesome, and that’s nice. But here’s the thing, babies: Cool takes more than it gives.

Cool takes away from who we are. It makes us forget ourselves, forget the things we like, forget the things that are important to us, even the silly stuff. Like how I kept forcing myself to listen to the right music to avoid the dreaded, “I can’t believe you’ve never heard this song,” but then one day, I realized that all I really wanted to do was listen to the soundtracks of like five Broadway musicals. So sorry babies, that’s why our car rides are not particularly cool, especially since more often than not I’m listening to an audio book and that’s even worse. Or how at some point it struck me that I had been trying really hard to not like pink too much because it seemed uncool to be so girly. Then I realized OH MY GOSH SHUT UP I LOVE PINK and my college friends gave me a pink KitchenAid blender and I named her Ms. Nancy Bobo, and we are best friends.

The other thing about cool is that it takes more than it gives. That’s one of my main takeaways from being a teacher and a student pastor’s wife—kids who want to be a certain kind of person find it nearly impossible in the face of coolness. And when they have to choose between who they want to be and coolness, they almost always choose coolness. Sweet girl and sweet boy, I hope you choose differently. The way you date, what you do on the weekends, who you hang out with – don’t let coolness decide. Coolness is bad for your soul. Be careful.

You know what’s better than cool? Weird. Weird is better. And Real—Real is definitely better. And Happy. Happy is better.

Be weird, be real, be happy, my sweet babies! Right now you laugh hard and smile big and dance silly. Don’t let coolness take that away from you. From us. You bring so much joy just by being you.


YOUR COOL MOM!! (JK sorry)

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