Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum…

          Today a dear friend of mine posted some pics of her boys. She added commentary only a mom comes up with and we all laughed. But it reminded me of a few things I’ve committed to memory. When Mat was younger I often worried about how different he was. Mat was reading at a really early age and he was wasn’t content to stick with Dick and Jane or Dr. Seuss. Neither of my children are academically average, but Mat’s reading level is unique. There have been other beautiful differences about my children. Some I prayed fervently would stay from birth, some we cultivated, and some I instilled accidentally.

      If you have a child (even the non-human kind who are often hairy and occasionally slobbery) you know that worry is part of caring. Some fears are legitimate. Some are projections from our lives to the child. Some are just plain silly, but you worry anyway.

       Children’s singer Joe Scruggs, whom I adore, sang a song that really helped me as a parent.

Different Drum

You like to run in the sun

I like to dance in the shade

I’m marching in my own parade

You say follow but I may not come

I hear the beat of a different drum.

Some say I’m crazy

Some say I’m weird

I’m just marching to the beat I hear

Sometimes it’s hard

But sometimes it’s fun

I hear the beat of a different drum

When I look around

Sometimes I find

I may not be right in time

You have to tilt your head

When you talk to me

I’ve got a different center of gravity

You like to run in the sun

I like to dance in the shade

I’m marching in my own parade

You say follow but I may not come

I hear the beat of a different drum.

(Joe Scruggs from his album Ants

  • Audio CD (February 4, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: April 15, 1997
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label:Lyons / Hit Ent.
  • ASIN: B0000058A2 )
  • My hero, Madeleine L’Engle wrote,

    That night during a wakeful period I thought about all the people in history, liturature, art, who I most admire: Mozart, Shakespeare, Homer, El Greco, St. John, Chekhov, Gregory of Nyssa, Dostoevsky, Emily Bronte: not one of them would qualify for a mental-health certificate. It’s been a small game with me this summer to ask, “Do you know anybody you really admire, who would qualify for a mental health certificate?” So far nobody has come up with one.


    What is mental health, anyhow? If we were all what is generally thought of as mentally healthy, I have a terrible fear that we’d all be alike. Even as we’re rushing towards the end of another thousand years, we are still terrified by non conformity… I can’t think of one great human being in the arts, or in history generally, who conformed, who succeeded, as educational experts tell us children must succeed, with his peer group….


    If we ever, God forbid, manage to make each child succeed with his peer group, we will produce a race of bland and faceless nonentities, and all the poetry and mystery will vanish from the face of the earth….


    I am encouraged as I look at some of those who have listened to their ‘different drums’: Einstein was hopeless at school math and commented wryly on his inadequacy in human relations. Winston Churchill was an abysmal failure in his early school years. Byron, that revolutionary student, had to compensate for a club foot. Demosthenes for a stutter; and Homer was blind. Socrates couldn’t manage his wife, and infuriated his countrymen. And what about Jesus, if we need an ultimate example of failure with one’s own peers?


    Or an ultimate example of love?


    (L’Engle, Madeleine. A Circle of Quiet. HarperOne, 1984. Print.)

    I pray that my kids will alway march to the beat of a different drum.

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    2 Responses to “Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum…”

    1. Me too, my friend; me too. Yours and mine both.

      Love that song, by the way — so glad you shared it with me once upon a time.

    2. i don’t think that you will ever have to worry about mat and abbey becoming faceless non entities. they are already so bright and strong and bold and free to presue thier dreams in many ways. thanks in a large part to your encouragement and eceptance of them and who they are and who they may become.

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