One of the most interesting people I know is six years old. I don’t mean interesting in the “oh she’s a fun kid” sense. I know plenty of kids (my friends and family were kind enough to have them so I didn’t have to) and they are all fun and interesting in their own ways, but my six-year-old friend Lauren is interesting to me in the way adults are interesting to me.
Six years does not seem like a lot of time to become an interesting person, does it? Especially considering that almost half of those years are spent learning how to walk, talk, eat with cutlery, and not poop in one’s pants. Even so, in that very short time, Lauren has become a person I could watch and listen to all day.
This does not mean the other kids I know are chopped liver. As mentioned, lots of my friends and family have kids I like and enjoy spending time with. Lauren’s sister, Ally, for example, is a ball of raw energy—a considerate, friendly, and entertaining ball of energy. On my latest visit she told me that I was one of her very good friends and I was also a funny friend. She’s the kind of kid you just want to hug.
But Lauren is different.
I might even say “weird” but only in the very best sense of the word.
Everyone has to die some time. ~ Lauren on the subject of death.
For starters, Lauren is smart beyond her mere six years. She has a thought process that often seems baffling but, when examined, is deeply rooted in logic. And yet, in contrast, she is also off-the-wall creative. She invents words. In fact, she does this so often that her family has coined a phrase for her language: “Ren words”.
The best part of this Ren language is that even though words are made up, they feel right. Describing an unpleasant individual to me, Lauren said they were “ratzy”.
Ratzy. I am going to steal that word. It’s beautiful.
My dad’s a scientist and you’re an imaginer. ~ Lauren explaining my job title.
To spend a day with Lauren is to be bombarded with the unexpected. She may decide to explain plate tectonics to you, she may choose not to talk to you at all (no matter how many questions you ask), she may demand you play “horse” with her, or she may happily disappear into her own world for hours at a time, jabbering away in a thick southern drawl for no apparent reason. But no matter what she does, she’s doing it because she wants to do it, not because it’s cool and not because it makes the grown-ups or the other kids happy.
Lauren is that rare soul who knows her own mind and does not care what anyone else thinks about the things she likes.
This makes me jealous.
Lauren defies stereotypes. Yes, she has Barbies, dolls, and other typical “girl” stuff but she shows equal affection for her train set, stuffed scorpion, and rock collection. About rocks, bugs, and the natural world, she is passionate. She can identify the coat patterns of the big cats and knows the scientific name for a rock that I would call a “pretty crystal-type thingie”.
What else? Her innate sense of justice, tell-it-like-it-is bluntness, complete disregard for flattery or other obvious tactics of persuasion—there are so many traits this mini-human possesses that most of us spend a lifetime trying to cultivate, often with little or no success.
I just didn’t like the way he was behaving. ~ Lauren explaining why she “roared” at a boy known for chasing girls on the school playground.
I want the world to have more Laurens. I want more people to believe in themselves and care less about popularity. I want more people to stand up to bullies, even if they aren’t the ones being bullied. I want more girls to love bugs and rocks and plate tectonics and to not be ashamed of that. I want curiosity to trump social niceness. I want scorpions and spiders to be appreciated as much as kittens and puppies. I want to let creative people get lost in their own worlds whenever possible. I want people to have fun with language.
Speaking of which, here’s how Lauren describes plate tectonics…
Lava bumps. Yeah, I’m gonna steal that, too.
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, and lovin’ life!