I rev up the time machine, and we coast about twelve to fifteen years into the past.
The kids at school saw me as brilliant but a bit of a show-off. I learned about negative numbers, complex numbers, and things that my seven-year-old mind thought crazy. My classmates thought these things were equally crazy when I tried to explain my new learnings to them. They wondered who on earth would come up with something like this when they were perfectly comfortable in their world of natural numbers, but I'm pretty sure they figured out that this was coming from the same person who could finish two sides of the timed addition test in the same time it took most of them to finish one.
The next year we played Around The World while we learned our multiplication tables. Two people stood next to each other while Mrs. Perkins read "Seven times eight" or some other times table. The first one to give the right answer continued to move around the room. When I finally completed an entire round around the room, Mrs. Perkins let me teach myself long division on the computer. This attempt was not entirely fruitless on the whole once I figured out that division was simply the inverse of multiplication. The idea just got refined the next year when an eight-year-old girl wasn't teaching herself the basics.
Then I began to write. Oh, did I begin to write. When the teacher asked for a one-page story, I would hand in a six-page story because I just couldn't find a good place to shut up. Characters ran into bogs, the shadows in the forest were really bears, and bogeymen who didn't like jazz tunes were the monsters in the closet. If someone told me to write a story, I could weave it into what I thought was a thrilling tale of love and suspense--and occasionally both at once.
I didn't limit my creativity to stories, though. My younger brother, next-door neighbors, and I played together almost all the time. While we did pretend to be Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and the like, I grew extremely tired of this after awhile, and I grew to wonder. What if we played Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers--at the same time? What if Rita Repulsa and Shredder got into a fight? What if the Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers met? How would it go over? I must have been getting into fandom at a very young age.
And then I made up my own games. We played Orphans in the ditch near my grandparents' house, where it made perfect sense that the orphans would live. When Danielle insisted that we orphans could get a dollar per week for 'allowance', I said, "No! We're orphans! We're supposed to be flat-out broke--" (here I lifted the green gunk floating above the water with a stick, which I had dubbed 'gopher guts') "--while scavenging off the dirt of the earth for our living!" Clearly I had read too much into the first Boxcar Children book.
We coast back to the present, landing smoothly on the Asylum. If you've managed to injure yourself on this journey, congratulations on creating a time-space paradox. I swear it wasn't my fault.
Now that I look back on my admittedly selective tour of my childhood, I see that my most precious childhood memory is that of my inner child. All children are innately curious beings, I believe, and my inner child is no exception. She never worries about whether she was going to be right or wrong when she asks a question--she just wants to know whether there is an answer, and how she can get there. She wants to explore these ideas, to learn anything she can, to push the boundaries--all while discovering these ideas herself.
My inner child is creative. Again, I believe this is a characteristic of all children. If you've ever looked at artwork of a child through the years, you've probably noticed that the art is less uninhibited as the child grows older. There aren't as many worries of making this piece of work perfect. Right now my inner child is blooming over NaNoWriMo. Even though I have a plot, I'm letting anything that wanders into my novel in, whether it be dead musicians or a database code. The result is much better than I expected.
My inner child lives life without worries. When you're in kindergarten, your biggest worry is that the boy you don't like is going to kiss you on the playground. (I never had that worry, but that's another story.) I've tended to replace the outlandish with the more down-to-earth over time because the down-to-earth is more acceptable. This aspect of my inner child has taken the longest to regain. After all, there are a lot of worries--finals, next semester, next year, the whole future. Many, many people have had to wander in and out of my life to make regaining this part of my inner child happen. I'm almost there.
This entry was written for therealljidol. If you liked it, vote for it! (And go indulge your inner child while you're at it.)