I love when you walk into a space and find your people. I do it a lot at punk shows, church basements and a little book store that sells mental health books. My kid did it last night at a restaurant in town. We sat down at our table and our waitress immediately asked her about a shirt she was wearing and then started speaking a language that my therapist/mom brain could not comprehend. It was apparently Japanese because they were talking about 7,000 anime shows and manga graphic novels that they were both familiar with. Every time the waitress came back to our table she stopped and chatted with my daughter for a few minutes.

During the dinner my daughter mentioned what a great waitress she was and when she stopped back my mother-in-law made her stay with us for a few more minutes so my daughter could tell her what a fantastic server she was and how enjoyable she made our dinner. You would have to know my mother-in-law to understand just how common it is for her to strike up a conversation with a server or cashier, but she is a people person and she makes friends everywhere she goes. If there was an extra chair at the table she probably would have asked the waitress to sit down and she would have finished her shift while she chatted with my kiddo. I actually would have found this very entertaining to watch my socially awkward husband try to manage that interaction. As it turns out, the waitress also has social anxiety and she told us this after she received the compliment about her serving skills. She also showed my daughter photos of her in multiple cosplay costumes which about sent my daughter over the edge since my daughter spends much of her time cosplaying and making videos in her bedroom.

When the waitress showed her a photo of herself dressed as Velma from Scooby Doo at a cosplay convention I thought I was going to have to clean out the guest room for this young woman to move in. My daughter dressed like Velma for a full year between the ages of 3 and 4, including the glasses. She wouldn’t answer to anything but her stage name and chose a Christmas ornament with the name Velma that still hangs on our tree 8 years later. I guess I should have seen this whole cosplay thing coming way back then. While other girls dressed as princesses, my child wanted to be the nerdy girls and villains. By the time she was 5, she was wearing her Hogwarts uniform to the grocery store and casting spells on shoppers in the produce department.

When you are the cosplaying, artsy punk rock kid it’s not easy to find your people at school. Especially when you attend a small Catholic girls school. She has a friend in 10th grade that cosplays and the two occasionally go to the local roller rink where they are treated like royalty for being their freaky little selves, but I hear about how this older friend is literally tortured by half of the school for her individuality, including girls much younger than her. A few weeks ago a couple of 8th grade bullies had the poor girl in tears while they ridiculed her and a group of the girls in my daughter’s class chased her down the hall videotaping her for “fun”. These are the same girls who keep walking up to my kid asking her to show them some dance that she did in a cosplay video. I told her she needed to tell them to watch her YouTube video if they wanted to see it again and when she did she got the satisfaction of watching their jaws hit the floor while they questioned how she had 17,000 views on a video. It’s kind of ironic that the same girls are begging people to like their photos and videos and my kid doesn’t want kids from school to even see her photos, but they all follow her. She likes what she likes, and she does what she wants without much thought about what other people think. She blows my mind with her DIY spirit. I think we have a new punk rock queen in the house.

**In honor of my little riottt girl, I listened to Bikini Kill.