Odd Sock Day in school today really got me thinking about getting children intentionally imperfect and creating safe spaces in which to practice being imperfect...
My daughter, along with many other children this morning, put on odd socks for school. This was in recognition of ‘Ani-bullying week 2022’.
She reminded me that it was ‘Odd Sock Day’, which I was grateful for because it is the kind of thing that she might have otherwise found challenging. The idea of putting on odd socks intentionally is something that could potentially cause some difficulty for many children who like the natural order to remain stable. Turning things on their head for the day can be fun for some whilst for others it takes some thinking about to be OK with it. It puts them right out of their comfort zone. I think because ‘everybody was doing it’, my daughter was OK with it. She saw it as being 'allowed' and not everyone is doing it.
That feeling of things not being ‘perfect’, ‘a bit odd’ and not as we might normally be expecting is hard for many people. It can make you feel vulnerable. You are susceptible to that worry of what you perceive everybody else thinks of you when you are not being, what you perceive to be, ‘perfect’. Our feelings of vulnerability often seem to arise from our own conjured up notions of perfection and that can start young. It seems so 'odd' to me that we can so easily feel fraught from this 'idea' of perfectionism when we are measuring ourselves from a scale we have created by ourselves.
For my daughter, the feeling of vulnerability on ‘Odd Sock Day’ was removed because everybody was doing it. She told me that the teacher reminded them all at the end of assembly on Friday not to forget it was ‘Odd Socks Day’ on Monday – I was impressed that a 5-year-old remembered that at the right moment to tell Mummy and after an entire weekend! At the same time, she was giving me the cue that being 'imperfect' (at least for today) was OK!
Wearing odd socks today to school is a way that children are learning that being ‘imperfect’ and at odds with the natural order of things is OK – in fact it’s quite fun because we're all joining in! The real test to how vulnerable my daughter will make herself would be to see if she’d wear odd socks tomorrow when this 'imperfect' is not seen to be expected or 'allowed'.
Kids need to experience feelings of ‘imperfection’ and feeling vulnerable and little things like ‘Odd Socks Day’, whilst raising awareness of Anti-bullying week, help to practise doing something that might make you feel a bit ‘out of your comfort zone’ and vulnerable.
It’s good to notice opportunities that present themselves to support our children in coming out of their comfort zones and confronting vulnerability in a safe space. Vulnerability is a space we all need to get comfortable in entering and the earlier we can start to do this in a safe way whilst we build that muscle, the more willing we might be later to get vulnerable. That is often where the biggest growth is hiding.