Aug 16, 2011

Being Weird


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 was (sigh...) am.  (What choice does she really have when I played Deep Forest into my pregnant belly almost daily?)  But she deserves the freedom to be whoever she wants to be.  Because after all, like my friend said, it is the way that God allows... no, desires us to grow.

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?

7 comments:

  1. I listened to a lot of Fleetwood mac, watched the wizard of Oz multiple times each day, and my favorite game was real-life version of Zelda we played with the neighborhood kids using those little prickly things that fall out of trees as bombs. I never had or cared for Barbies, but I loved my cabbage patch kid, and we would pretend to take our babies to "baby gymnastics" and make them flip and turn and jump. That was because we begged to be in gymnastics and watched it on TV and loved it, but my grandma wouldn't put us in it (I now know how much it would have cost to put 3-4 little girls in gymnastics, and I totally understand why she didn't lol). When I say "we" I refer to my 'sisters' and I.. mostly to the one that is one year older than me. We also were convinced we could talk to animals and fly if we tried hard enough... and man, did we try. We were definitely weird kids. The list could go on for days.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One thing I will say is that as I got older and my sisters got older, they expected me to grow up like them. Mostly the middle one, who is 3 years older than me. She would tell me things I liked were childish and stupid, so I wouldn't like them. Of course now I realize that's because I was a child even when she was a teenager, and I wish I could go back and tell myself that it's okay if other people think what you like is stupid... people don't like the same things, and you don't have to change your likes to match theirs!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My mom asked me what I wanted for Graduation and I told her I wanted a Record Player. I still have it. It was made in the 50s and is a beast. Jacob hates it :) I was obessed with Harriet The Spy when I was little, so that got me in trouble, and I saw more things than I think I wanted to. I didnt play "princess" either, but I did play in my doll house until I was in High School. I had a weird facination with books, I would read everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good surprising twist with allowing her to be normal! Didn't expect that one :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved the idea of business even as a kid, I was always making stuff to sell to easily-guilted relatives. :) The worst has to be the time I made perfume that included Sunny D as an ingredient. Lord almighty, I have no clue who let me do that, but after a few weeks (and after selling bottles and bottles of the stuff), it STUNK so bad. I also had my dad create menus for my restaurant, which I intended to run from my playhouse. He thought it was cute, so he complied, and I was not a happy camper when he told me I couldn't actually serve people in our backyard. I also set up a shop out of my caboodle at recess, selling things from my toy box. Gotta love it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. i always loved dress up and stuffed animals. the idea that toys come to life once you leave for the day is still tempting for me, or even that my pets really can talk. i would take anything that was long and flowy and use it as a cape. the more it would flutter when i twirled, the better. and even when i was in 7th or 8th grade i was still in our front yard and cul-de-sac wearing mis-matched dress up clothes and dancing in the street, that is until nathan dyer and his family would come driving up the street and i would run and hide, i would still get teased about that if i ever saw that lame-o again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here were some of my favorite things:
    Mr. Microphone, the life-sized stuffed animal with straps on his feet so we could dance together, sit and spin, fashion plates, easy-bake oven, and my record player. Remember the song, "How Much is that Doggy in the Window"?
    (Ruff, Ruff) I hated playing outside! I never wanted to eat vegetables! I had a hobby of making people laugh! Dancing around the living room with my cousins and singing to the top of our lungs happened quite often. I loved it when the boys chased me at the skating rink! I think they may have been attracted by the huge orange comb that said, "cool" on it, sticking out of my Jordache jeans. Britney, I love the term you used, "wonderful weirdness" and I am proud to say that I now know that my "weirdness" is wonderful and God is the one we can blame, I mean, thank!

    ReplyDelete

Share your thoughts/heart/words below!