Wednesday, June 8, 2016

From One Obsession to the Other

While Alyssa is obsessed with Z Nation and all that goes along with that (including buying a baseball bat at a garage sale last weekend because, duh, it would be an awesome weapon should the zombie apocalypse descend upon us.) Olivia is way more interested in Monster High these days.

Given the fact that I won’t let Olivia watch Z Nation to begin with, this is probably a good thing. Though their two interests do overlap in that there is a character on Monster High named Goulia and she’s the daughter of zombies…and she’s blue, like Murphy, which is just all sorts of awesome.

Anyway, Olivia’s love of Monster High drives Alyssa crazy.

Let that sit with you for a minute.

The child who will sit for six hours (at least) and watch a television show she’s watched more times than she can count and then TALK about it to me and her dad and anyone else she can tie down for ten minutes and then, after all that, will search online for forums and discussions about the show thinks her sister’s fascination with a cartoon is annoying.

I laugh because that’s pretty much how obsessions go. YOUR obsession is awesome, but the other person’s obsession is stupid.

Olivia has a shirt that is on the verge of being too small but it’s got DracuLaura, the daughter of Dracula, on it and she loves that shirt so much that she’s going to wear it until she can’t pull it over her head. She has two Monster High DVDs and searches YouTube for videos of people reviewing the Monster High dolls and for episodes of the show she hasn’t seen (or hasn’t seen at least twelve times.)

She talks about the characters on Monster High and is planning which DracuLaura doll she’s going to get when she has to have blood drawn before her surgery later this month. She shows me the videos she’s found and just wants someone to listen to her as she talks about this thing that’s very important to her.

And when Alyssa rolls her eyes and sighs about how annoying the video that is playing on O’s tablet is, I remind her that not everyone enjoys Z Nation as much as she does, but the people who love her indulge her and listen to her thoughts on it all.

It’s what we do. We take an interest in our kids’ interests. We listen and we learn the characters and their traits.

I mean, come on. If I had my way, I would not know every single member of Pentatonix (Alyssa’s other obsession), from their names to their ages, their vocal ranges and even their siblings’ and dogs' names. But I do know these things because it’s important to Alyssa to talk about it all and for me to understand and REALLY get what she’s talking about.

Just like it’s important to Olivia that I know that DracuLaura is 1600 years old, that Goulia’s boyfriend’s name is Slo-Moe and he’s also a zombie. She wants me to listen as she talks about Peri and Pearl, the daughters of the hydra, who happen to have two heads and one body. She wants to discuss how beautiful they are and how they’re almost exactly alike, except for their makeup and how Peri is actually nicer than Pearl.

Does all this get monotonous/boring? Of course, but these girls of mine are only going to be these ages for a short time. They’re only going to want to talk to me about their interests for a little while. I need to soak it all in, all the Z Nation information and the Monster High trivia that I can because someday, I’ll be the one seeking them out, trying so hard to get them to fit me into their schedules.

And all this listening that I do? I feel like it’s building something in them, a voice maybe, that tells them their thoughts, their opinions, their feelings matter. That voice in my head that tells me I’m gross and stupid and annoying? I don’t want them to have that voice. I want the voices in their head to tell them they’re amazing, they’re smart, their worth listen to. I want their voice to tell them that their interests are valid and awesome and that there is no shame in loving what you love.

So every day I go home and I listen and I discuss and I smile as they share. I watch the videos with them and I laugh at the jokes and I truly enjoy being with them, learning about what interests them. And when Alyssa rolls her eyes at Olivia when O shares stuff with me, I just smile and remind her that Olivia finds Monster High just as fascinating and intellectually stimulating as Alyssa finds Z Nation.

That keeps the eye rolling to a minimum for at least ten seconds before the next episode pops up and annoys Alyssa all over again. Lucky for both of them, Olivia doesn’t care even a little that Alyssa doesn’t like same things she (O) likes. She only really cares that I listen, that I care, and that’s enough for me to keep on doing what I’m doing.

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