Monday, November 2, 2015


I loved Madeline so much I became her. 

I watched every movie, read every book. 

I dragged my mom to the library every week.

I turned those pages so much they turned to velvet.

I had my hair cut in the same cut cropped bowl as Madeline.

I wore a jumper and bought a yellow jacket and hats just like Madeline.

I had shoes with buckles on them, lace-trimmed socks folded over just so.

I even asked my mom if I could dye my hair the same auburn-red as Madeline (which, childhood Meli, you did in fact grow in to. Just FYI).

Childhood heroes are important.

Because as I pretended to be Madeline, I acted like her, too.

I was always an anxious child - trees turned in to monster hands, mom was never coming home from that grocery trip (and I would truly become Madeline), the world was always ending when it stormed. I come by it honestly - my family has a history of deep-set medical anxiety. My great-grandfather had a bomb shelter under his basement filled with water and supplies for the end of the world.

But as I became Madeline, I became braver. Because she was brave. She’d turn her nose up to lions, say ‘poo-poo’, dive in to the Seine river to save a dog. Madeline was just the kind of generously reckless friend I needed in my life. And as an only child, she was one of the only ones I had. 

Because of Madeline, where I could have fallen to anxiety, loneliness, and listlessness, I was energetic, brave and creative. Madeline helped me in ways nobody - not myself, or an adult, possibly could. Madeline was the shit.  

I’m older now. I don’t have the same urge to get a bowl-cut, shout at lions and wear a jean-jumper, but inside there is still a large part of me that remains a lonely, anxious little child.

And I haven’t been as kind to her as I probably should be.

So I’m starting to channel my inner Madeline again.

I’m doing things I wouldn’t normally do. I’m looking at fear as a hobby, a sport, a challenge. I’m taking risks where generosity and love are concerned. I’m being as loud and as unique as I can be. I’m taking my anxiety and setting it beside me, because Madeline would do the same. Because somewhere, deep down, I need my childhood heroes as much now as I did back then.

We all forget what kinds of people and things we admired as children. The kinds of characters we emulated, the people who inspired and shaped us as we were in the process of developing ourselves. We should all try to bring more of these characters back in to our lives, because as we grow up we forget about them.

I’ve printed off the first page of the Madeline series - the poem that starts it all. I’m going to frame it and put it up, to remind me of the kind of girl I want to be. The kind of girl 8-year old me needs and wanted to be. I’m going to try to be more like her again. I’m going to try to be braver. Bolder. More.

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