As a young child, I was what people might call precocious: I loved talking to strangers about how my hair was “naturally curly,” I would run around my parents’ parties and dance to the “Macarena” for everybody, and I was just generally outgoing. But I was also frustrating: It was difficult to get me to calm down when excited, nearly impossible to change my diaper and even harder to get me to sleep — a problem I still have today. And I absolutely hated being told what to do, which made everything incredibly hard for my parents. In fact, it was hard for well over a decade.
Sometime around age 4 or 5, my brother and I were being babysat by a woman in her 40s who was an occasional substitute teacher at my school. As the daughter of a librarian who values books higher than just about anybody I know, I learned to read pretty early on and absolutely loved doing so. I would try to read anything I could get my hands on, even attempting Jane Eyre in the third grade (I gave up after three pages during which I referenced the dictionary for every sentence).
On this particular day, I attempted to read some small yellow book that my mom had left out. My babysitter told me that it was higher than my reading level and put it in a drawer I couldn’t reach. I didn’t know the word “patronizing” back then, but I already understood that I hated it when people did not seem to take me seriously. So, as a result, I tricked her into going outside (I insisted to her that our cat had escaped), yelled something unkind, shut the door and locked it. Three hours later (this was before the age of cell phones), my parents returned home and saw what I had done. Naturally, they were displeased, but I explained that I was simply angry about not getting what I wanted, which I assumed justified the act completely.
So, fast forward to my teenage years: after an unfortunate experience in middle school, I became angry. Really angry. And I didn’t want anybody to come between myself and that anger. Normally, I hate discussing these years because I find them both embarrassing and incredibly regrettable, but with all the talk of what Adam Lanza’s mother could have done and how terrifying it is to be close with an angry teenager (or any other age, for that matter), I have decided that it’s important for me to discuss the topic and share my own perspective.