COLUMN: Daring to be different

You can stand out from the crowd and still be okay.

For Molly’s first ballet class I was a little ill-prepared – a fact I didn’t really realize until I took a seat next to the other moms and dads.

While all of the other little girls sported beautiful perky tutus, brand new tights and adorable silk slippers, my little munchkin stuck out like a sore thumb.

Chunky pink boots, loose-fitting purple leggings, tutu from too-too long ago and a rock T-shirt weren’t exactly prima ballerina attire.

In my defence, both my Molly and her sister were sick leading up until the start of her class – wild horses couldn’t drag my butt to the store with two cranky kids. Luckily, Molls couldn’t care less about not being in the proper garb, nor did her new gal pals.

She rocked her outfit loud and proud as she pirouetted, pointed her wee toes and pranced around the room. I had never felt more proud to watch my tiny dancer be so uninhibited, so free.

At that moment I wished for her to always be so content with being different. Had I learned to do so at her age, I’m sure it would have saved a lot of heartache over the years.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m definitely a different duck – a fact my mother discovered when I was just a wee babe.

It was while feeding me a bottle that my mom noticed something wasn’t quite right with her darling daughter. I was only two months old, but I seemed to have mastered the art of winking. Could it be?

The pediatrician shattered any notions my mom might have had about having a baby genius by breaking the news: I had Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Synkinsesis (MGJWS), also known as Jaw Wink – a very rare condition caused by the congenital mis-wiring of nerves.

Every single time I eat or chew a piece of gum, my left eye begins to twitch quite noticeably. Apparently, only a few thousand people have been diagnosed with this eye-opening dilemma (pun not intended) – I am one of the few faulty-gene lottery winners. Now who says I don’t win anything?

Yes, it could be worse. Much worse. However, try telling that to a kid who has to brave the playground.

As a youngster, it was something I was pretty insecure about. There’s nothing like having 20 pairs of eyes glued to your face as you bite into a sandwich.

My little dancing peeper has proved entertaining for many prying eyes over the years. To this day, I still feel awkward eating with people I don’t know very well. Heaven forbid I bite into a big juicy burger – my eye goes mad for burgers.

To correct the problem, I discovered that a surgeon would have to make a small cut in my skull and operate close to the brain stem. It would also fall under the cosmetic category, which meant having to shell out big bucks to correct the problem.

Rather than have my head hacked like an Easter ham, I’ve just decided to live with it and get over myself. Throughout the years, I actually learned to embrace my eye twitch and found it can be a great party trick as well as an ice breaker at job interviews.

Friends and family members tell me they don’t even notice it anymore – that it’s just something they’ve gotten used to over the years.

More than just a cheap trick, I know my eye can be used as a parenting tool – a way of showing my two beautiful baby girls that they can stand out from the crowd and still be A-okay.

Kristyl Clark is a stay-at-home-mom and founder of the family blogazine, She’s a Valley Mom ( She writes monthly for The Leader.


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