I have many passions in life. I’m mildly* obsessed with apostrophes, love board games, am fascinated by physics despite knowing next to nothing, am addicted to online Scrabble, and like a goodly dose of sci-fi.
Other people’s interests fascinate me. How do people get into dominoes to the point of making world record domino runs? What leads someone to stand on train platforms and jot down train numbers? Why did that person fall in love with all things Just Bieber?
It’s intriguing. It’s also a stark illustration that we humans are complicated and often confusing wee critters, and that it’s nigh on impossible to work out what makes another person tick.
I think we grown ups might like to ponder on that more often, especially when dealing with our little people.
There’s an implicit sense in many grown ups that we are ‘expert’ over and above the youngsters, but it pays to stop and consider that really what we are dealing with there is two humans with different experiences and different thoughts on things. Whether the other person is 5 or 55 is often quite beside the point… yet so often we grown ups talk down to children and are condescending and disapproving about what they like, believe, feel.
How many of you harrumphed when I mentioned Justin Bieber back there? I admit I gave a smug “pshaw” myself. And yet I distinctly recall adoring the Bay City Rollers and David Cassidy back in the day. Was I wrong to like them? Am I a better person now I like The Wellington Ukulele Orchestra and Moby? I’m older, that’s for sure. Wiser, not so much. Better, absolutely not. (I was fab then, too!)
Here’s an idea: Perhaps we could be more open to other people’s likes and obsessions? Hell, we could even go out on a limb and show an interest ourselves – we might even learn something. And if showing an interest means possibly coming away with a new bit of knowledge and leaving someone happy that they got to share their passion, it can only ever be a win.
So, next time you want to guffaw when someone tells you they adore One Direction or Twilight or rock collections or apostrophes, instead take a deep breath and give them their 5 minutes in the sun.
You don’t have to understand it or like it yourself, you just have to appreciate the other human thinks it’s awesome.
Right, I am back off to Facebook to lose at Scrabble and wage war on apostrophe misuse. If you see me there, be kind.
* very, very, very obsessed