At a dinner party recently, Annika got to watch Jurassic Park II with a bunch of grown-ups. We had brought along some of her dinosaur toys and throughout much of the movie she felt the need to grab her plastic version of whatever dino was on the screen. She'd run to her bag and then rush to the television, holding her toy flat up next to the image to show us all that they matched. We all laughed about how much she loves dinosaurs, and then we talked a little about what we were into when we were young.
For me it was the Underground Railroad, for some it was Egypt and Mythology, others, The Wizard of Oz. I casually thought about how even at such young ages, people are already so very different.
Later, in a Facebook convo discussing my last post, a friend connected the love of God with a parent's complete love and acceptance of their child. So, I started really reflecting back on the dinner party, on Annika's unique personality, on my own quirky childhood. And the older I get, the quirkier I realize it was.
I don't think I've spent more than an hour playing "princess" my entire life. I just don't remember ever liking princesses that much. Instead, my idea of make-believe was organizing neighbor kids into secret meetings where I told them that our ancestors would speak to them through the trees and I was the only interpreter. It was like little backyard mini-cults for kids. I would lock my bedroom door and blast the Bodyguard soundtrack and pretend to be Whitney Houston, or shake my flat little booty to Gloria Estefan songs. And looking back, that was probably pretty different for a seven year old white girl, but no one knows they're weird when you're that young. I just thought I liked cool stuff. No one told me it was odd to be obsessed with the Harriet Tubman in elementary school, or to ask my 11th grade history teacher to play my Sounds of Blackness CD during study time. I didn't learn until I was much older that my parents considered getting me counseling in junior high because I was memorizing Edgar Allen Poe. (I remember walking our house and reading "The Bells" aloud.) And I'm not joking... I had a framed painting of Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in the back window of my Honda Civic. I half-cringe and half-laugh at what other kids must have thought.
With oh-so-many more cringe-worthy memories, its exceptional that I coasted through high school and into college with an almost overly-loaded sense of pride and self-worth (I'm sure my roommate can attest to that) rather than a "weirdo" label hanging over my head. I had wonderful girlfriends that had so much fun with our God-given uniqueness and wonderful parents who were always supportive. It was a really great environment for a girl to grow. But of course, a lot of kids aren't so lucky. Not everyone gets to roll their eyes and laugh about the crazy-weird kid they were. Some kids want so bad to be normal that they never have the luxury of fully developing their wonderful weirdness.
That said, I hope Annika gets to be as weird as she wants. But perhaps even more challenging for me, I hope I can let her be as normal as she wants.
I love that she plays mommy as much as she plays monster, that she wants to have five kids with a hippopotamus one day, that she knows more dinosaur names than most adults. I love that she is a crazy mix of fierce and gentle, and that her imagination is wildly weird. But can I love it as much if she wants to wear pink and draw dolphins and play princess? I mean, nature and nurture are both on my side here, she will probably be as weird as I
So, what about you? You know you want to share. What were you like as a kid? What wonderfully weird or nicely normal things were you into?