Six-year-old me was a miscellany of adjectives, two of which were the most manifest:
Well-read: I posed as an Animorphs expert. Sure, I could pick out some of the words for colors or animals from the text, but it was the book covers that allowed me to “summarize” the plot for any unfortunate passerby (meaning Mom, Dad, or my crib-confined sister). The idea of turning into a starfish was too tempting to keep me from rattling on about it again… and again.
Imaginative: To become Amelia Earhart, I threw stipulations out the window. The skill of flight was already perfected in my mind– what more was there? Looking the part was what I decided. For me, there was nothing more representative of the bold, conscientious, female trailblazer than the tights my mom slipped into on her way to work every day. She and Ms. Earhart could have been the same person. Seeing as the tights were two feet too long, I wore them as a scarf for “takeoff”.
I like to think that many characteristics of my six-year-old self are ones I can still use today. Since I am not Master of Books, I would rather say that I read well than that I am well-read. I look for variety: Eutropius’ War with Hannibal lacks the poetry that makes Pyramus and Thisbe so stirring, though it abounds with history (who knew Hannibal had a brother?). My literary adventures into Bruno Traven’s world of poverty cross the paths I have already taken to explore Gabriel García Márquez’s lessons on social corruption. The to-be-read pile in my mom’s bedroom grows with each trip into town: we return from an expedition for postage stamps sheepishly carrying another novel. Over chocolate, we compare, contrast, and begin a new written endeavor together. As a bibliophile, Latin enthusiast, and linguist-in-training, to read on my own terms is to read well.
Seeing more in what I have continues to prove fun just as much as advantageous. In my hands, a snapped branch in the snow becomes the paintbrush for a six-foot-by-five-foot smiley face in the driveway, or a cheerful “Hello!” that I leave for my mom to see when I start out for school. The bananagram letters that someone forgot to clean up turn into a riddle on the bedroom floor. My mom and I cut up rarely-worn t-shirts and dig out the old sewing kit to design patchwork pants for each other (although we might pass on wearing them outside the house… ). Instead of tossing them out, the two of us salvage our attempted reindeer cookies: they become “ugly sweaters” complete with sprinkles and sugar art. Creating is my treasure and my peace of mind, and all it requires is what I have.
While these self-descriptors have carried through to who I am now, I know that my six-year-old self was not their sole architect.
My eyes have been skimming words since before my brain registered that they had meaning, but it was my mom who made sure I had any books to look at.
My imagination has always wandered on the line between what’s firmly real and what’s colorfully, multidimensionally unproven, but it was my mom who encouraged my inventiveness.
I have her to thank for writing a customer review of the monster spray I designed for my sister’s bedroom (Five stars!). I have her to thank for helping me form the grip to hold a pencil, then a marker, then a paintbrush. She drove me to the public library when Harry Potter wasn’t at the bookstore. She gave the go-ahead for me to attempt black-bean brownies (I know: she actually did that).
It’s thanks to my mom that it is in my nature to let my passions lead me. She never yanked me out of dreamland or stamped on my impractical ideas. Because she has only ever championed the person I am, I feel no restrictions on who I can become.