Child’s Play

I am officially a woman of a certain age.

I consider myself young still. I still love a lot of the things I dug when I was younger: Tool and the Cure; having espresso drink-off’s to see who could be the most Beavis in the shortest amount of time; the sheer pleasure of eye rolling at the only Candlebox song that ever got rotation.

Arguing, eye-rolling, and smartassedness.  I wish I could have majored in those.

As both a pre-teen and a teenager, I loved Saturdays: ThunderCats, Gargoyles, and X-Men. The PeeWee Herman Show, even.

I can almost trace my childhood through kids shows: The Letter People (that song, 30-some odd years later, still rings in my head) led to Smurfs led to Thundercats and G.I.Joe led to Gargoyles led to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ultimately, Batman, Spiderman, and the X-Men.

I had secondhand knowledge of Transformers through my younger brother, but the X-Men and the various DC Hero shows were mine, all mine.

I figured I had shopping for a five year old who is into some of the same stuff I was into as a kid nailed.

This is so not the case.

For his birthday, I thought I had found the ultimate gift: a super-duper Transformers gift. A little beyond the recommended age for him, but the kid’s mechanically brilliant, and I say that in a completely non-biased way. And, as a bonus for me, totally affordable.  He unwrapped it, such as it was–I lack the ability to wrap gifts, so he merely opened its shipping box–and his face fell.

He already had two of them. Of the same exact toy.

The tension I felt awaiting the approval of a five year old was tantamount to the moments before I saw the first question on the GRE and discovered I was the most stupid person on earth. It was a kite string in a hurricane.

For someone who has well-developed sense of I-don’t-give-a-shit-itis, I really wanted this kid to like me.

I absolutely adore my nephew, for whom I had been birthday shopping, and my 2-going-on-16 year old niece. I don’t see them as often as I’d like, and I have to admit, still a bit uncomfortable around kids, but I really, really do love these kids. I want to hang the stars for these kids. I want to teach them all the things I didn’t learn growing up, all the things that I’m just now discovering now that I’ve hit my 40’s.

I want to buy them stock, and, when they’re a bit older, teach them about finances. Hopefully I’ll have learned a bit more by then.  I want to get them something practical. Something that will serve them beyond the 10 minutes it takes for their attention to go to something else.

But I still want them to like me.  Not just to be liked, but to be a part of their world.  When I was a kid, I had an aunt who taught me how to braid clover flowers and wind them in my hair to make a crown. It’s one of my few memories of her. But I loved her, and I still remember how exciting it was.

I watched the episode of Castle called “Child’s Play,” last night, and (spoiler: I’m a huge Nathan Fillion fan) I loved, loved, loved the scene where Castle is having the tea party with Emily.  The Princess look doesn’t just look good on him; because he’s able to connect with Emily, she is comfortable telling him what she is afraid to tell her teacher, Ms. Ruiz.

Rachel Eggleston and Nathan Fillion in the Castle episode "Child's Play." Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/ABC.

(Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/ABC. Found on http://emertainmentmonthly.com/2014/10/24/castle-reviewrecap-childs-play/)

They are truly connected.

As an aside, I found it refreshing that, when Emily tells Castle that she was being bullied, Castle doesn’t reply with the trite, “He pulls your hair because he likes you,” nonsense. He tells her about inner strength which predictably leads to humorous consequences. But the “He’s mean because he likes you,” didn’t show up. Kudos to the writers.

It can be a beautiful place, the world of a child.

I just hope I can be in it a while before they grow up.

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