Steph just turned 16 two days ago, but she's always been 2-3 years behind other kids emotionally/socially. She was held back a year - in preschool, fer christ sakes - and, until her first year of high school she was in "Special Ed" with occasional forays into "mainstreaming." She's not going through the normal teen anxieties ... yet, if ever. She's like I was...kind of a loner, always acting more like a nice little kid than a teen, and NEVER doing what the others do. The other kids used to hurt her feelings because she's different, but she's a happier kid now than she's ever been because she's developed (in self-defense) a much more mature attitude toward her peers. She's ahead of the other kids, I feel, because her self-esteem is based in her pure individuality and not at all in what other kids think of her. Her clothes are totally different from all the other kids and she has none of their interests. She's beginning to see that if she doesn't follow any other kids' leads, and shines on her own, the others will give her a lot of shit, but eventually she'll have HER OWN followers. IT'S BEGINNING TO HAPPEN. Some kids are shyly coming up to her when they see her art, they're starting to say her speech or presentation things in classes are awesome (they're VERY DIFFERENT). So, her grades are mostly A's and B's now because she's come to realize that she's more talented in many ways than the other kids are.
I've always let her know that life after high school is a totally different world, and the "populars" in school become disoriented and frequently fail after they graduate, because high school dynamics do not work when you're set free in the real world. I've showed her examples. Missy Homecoming Queen becomes Downtown Hooker. Mr. Football Stud Star ends up shoveling asphalt on the roads. Dead-end jobs, slutty behaviour and pre-marital babies, dead-end marriages -- just like her father's kids by his previous marriage. The geeks and grunts and put-down artistic kids can end up on top because they haven't pre-programmed themselves to think that you can live life like high school.
She's my bud and I'm really tickled with her, although her father is dismayed because he feels she's becoming a "clone" of me. Huh? This insults me but does not upset me, because he's no success himself, yuck. And all three of his other kids are dismal failures. So what does he know.
I suppose most "adults" would think that the career she's dreamed of since babyhood is stupid or impossible, but whatever she wants to be, I'm behind her 100 percent. In other words, if she were Brian Epstein and wanted to become a dress designer, I wouldn't block that ambition like his parents did because it was "unmanly." Steph can own a videogame company if she wants to. So take that, everybody.