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Yes, I do qualify as a “weird little kid.”

As evidence may I present this letter written to the Tooth Fairy after I received money for my lost tooth. I put the miniature missive back under my pillow. I figured that was the fairy return mail system.

I even decorated the front of the little homemade envelope (that must have been sent home from school with my tooth in it). Check out that realistic kleenex with blood on it!

Another favorite story regarding my ‘weirdness’ takes place as an adult. I was sitting around a kitchen table visiting with some other women at a friend’s house. Our hostess’ 4 year-old daughter was playing with a doll nearby. At some point I chimed in with her play without thinking and as I recall threw out something about magical fairy dust. The little girl came to a full stop, turned her whole body towards me, paused while looking me up and down, then asked with complete assurance, “Do you want to come to my room?”

She meant, “This whole imaginative thing you have going on? I want to take advantage of it. Let’s go. Let’s go play right this minute.” Her mom laughed and said something about the adults talking right now. But truly? I was so ready. I would’ve gone with her in a split second.

I’m like that at other gatherings and parties, too. I’d often rather be playing make-believe with the kids.

Writer Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins) says in her collection of essays, Gates of Excellence: On Reading & Writing Books for Children:

“When people ask me what qualifies me to be a writer for children, I say I was once a child. But I was not only a child, I was, better still, a weird little kid,  and though I would never choose to give my own children this particular preparation for life (she talks about being nine years old, recently off a boat from China to North Carolina, wearing missionary barrel clothes and being called “Jap”), there are few things, apparently, more helpful to a writer than having once been a weird little kid.” (Gates of Excellence was re-printed with The Spying Heart as A Sense of Wonder.)

She also says, “…the reading of fiction has helped me not only to come to terms with the weird little kid I was and am but also to realize that almost everyone I meet has a weird little kid tucked away inside.”

 

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