Here’s the most obvious statement of 2023: the value of social media stars is controversial. The idea of becoming famous via social media (famous just for being famous?) is even more of a hot button issue. Every once in a while, though, there’s just something wholesome about the content, and Peet Montzingo’s trombone-accompanied invitation into experiencing his life is one of those. Montzingo’s 2022 collab between @peetmontzingo and @rockwellsands, Little Imperfections: A Tall Tale of Growing Up Different, is a heartwarming look into what it’s like to grow up (and grow and grow) in a family of little people.
A Vulnerable Look at a TikTok Star — and Boybander??
In this month’s book, Little Imperfections: A Tall Tale of Growing Up Different by Peet Montzingo and Rockwell Sands, artist, internet personality, and “ginger with a soul” Montzingo presents his life growing up “normal” in a family of little people with a vulnerable, raw approach that is refreshing and a little disconcerting — especially for a children’s book. Montzingo never veers into territory that feels inappropriate for his audience, but he does speak to kids with an openness that most adults shy away from in favor of pretending every is A-OK.
Side note: I totally didn’t realize Montzingo was 33. Also a boybander. Apparently, I am the one who has been living under a rock.
Montzigo’s narrative leans into his mother’s struggles as a woman with dwarfism caring for an average-size toddler, his feeling abandoned by his father after his parents’ divorce, his acting out in defiance in school and at home (including a vivid image of holding his cell phone over his mother’s head when she tried to punish him with taking it away). Still, the open, breathy narrative of loose rhymes accompanied by richly textured, macroscopically zoomed-in domestic scenes never nosedives into the sentimental.
My almost-five-year-old caught on immediately to the complexity of conflict and emotion, and she asked a lot of questions as we read this book for the first time. I, on the other hand, found myself wrapping up our reading with a silent, “Totally. Life sucks sometimes.” Life sucks, but also it’s beautiful. And here’s the rub — developing a healthy mindset, maintaining emotional wellness, and ultimately achieving happiness don’t come from experiencing tough times, nor do they come from not experiencing tough times. Becoming a well-rounded, balanced person who can be confident and resilient in the face of stressors is the result of a number of complex factors that center around a “combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences.”
How Children Develop Resilience
In today’s world, teaching our kids to appreciate diversity is important not just for the value of treating others well but because of how important it is to develop their own resilience. When kids learn about different cultures, traditions, and points of view, they can grow into more caring and understanding individuals. This exploration helps them see that every person is special and has something important to offer to the world — including themselves. The more children experience a world created through a narrow set of perspectives or experiences, the more they internalize a narrow set of expectations for themselves. This can lead to anxiety over fitting in, perfectionism, and a host of other stressors for young people that often gets carried with them into adulthood.
Think it’s hard to grow up in a family of doctors and not become a doctor? Now, what if you saw the whole world this way? Not only is seeing the vast and beautiful variety of people in the world an important way for children to develop a sense of self-compassion and authenticity, but in fact helping others is a critical tool in developing one’s own resilience. Once you become confident that you know how to take care of “a problem,” you just might start to think you do the same for yourself!
An Honest Look Into the Pain of Being a Kid
Childhood and adolescence are often romanticized as carefree times, but they are filled with their own challenges that can be emotionally and psychologically taxing.
Divorce, which can leave children torn between two households and burdened by conflicting emotions. They may grapple with feelings of abandonment, confusion, and sadness. Another formidable obstacle is bullying, where relentless taunts and harassment can erode a child’s self-esteem and confidence.
The struggle to make friends can be a source of anguish, as feelings of loneliness and isolation creep in. This can be compounded by the ever-present specter of anxiety, a condition that afflicts an increasing number of young minds. The pressure to excel academically, fit into societal norms, and meet the expectations of parents and peers can create a heavy emotional burden.
However, these trials, painful though they may be, are the very tools that serve as opportunities to develop strength and resilience. Children and adolescents can develop invaluable coping skills by seeking support from trusted adults, learning to assert themselves, and discovering their unique strengths. Friendships, while sometimes a source of stress, can also become a source of solace and growth.
Supporting Children’s Emotions
While the journey through childhood and adolescence is fraught with difficulties, it is also a time of incredible growth and self-discovery. Showing support, love, and giving children the opportunity to navigate these challenges while encouraging open communication about feelings and mental health can help address anxiety and foster emotional resilience that lasts a lifetime. If you feel like you are struggling to find a balance between being supportive and allowing your kids the space the struggle — or if your children are expressing signs that they’re struggling with more than they can handle, reach out to book a consultation with one of therapists today.
Find these similar books on the web and on our BookShop!
- My Shadow Is Purple by Scott Stuart
- My Shadow is Pink a book by Scott Stuart
- The Day I Lost My Powers: A Story about Divorce for Kids by Erica Lindsey
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- Broken Crayons Still Color by Toni Collier (Author) Whitney Bak (Author), and Natalie Vasilica (Illustrator)
- The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah Brown