Deep in my soul, I believe my 10-year-old niece, Amorah, has been here before. She has this confidence and knowing about things waaaaaay beyond her years. Her hunches are solid and she commits in a way that most adults never will. Especially when she is convincingly making up stories or trying on a new idea, waiting for something to land.
For instance, she is currently obsessed with Ruby Bridges, a civil rights activist and the first African-American child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1959.
No one in our family knows how her fascination with Ms. Ruby grew legs, but the timing did fit nicely into the Black History month theme, so we went with it. When asked, Amorah said what she often says about her unique interests. “I don’t know. I just wanted to know about her/him/it.”
At the ripe age of three, she felt the same call to elephants and sea creatures. Books, movies, interviewing zoo and aquarium staff—all of it. So much so, that I have long suspected that she’s either going to be a zookeeper or a marine biologist.
As a multi-passionate person, first, there’s a surface-level spark about a thing and then she dives in with her whole soul. Sewing by hand, learning the clarinet, illustrating a book – it doesn’t matter – she commits.
True to her unicorn-like sensibilities, she also skipped age 8. She just wasn’t feeling the number, and for a whole year, when anyone asked, she was very consistent about declaring her age as such: “I’m seven plus one.”
What is true is that she has an unwavering devotion to things that capture her heart. So, when the school librarian, who knows her well, recently taught her how to remotely log into the school research center, she looked into Ms. Ruby the way I ruthlessly deep dive into ancestors on Ancestry.com.
After her exploration, Amorah decided to write Ms. Ruby a letter. I don’t know many adults who make the time to answer letters from ten year olds, but I hope Ruby is an exception. I hope she reaches out to my sweet and funny niece who is both young and old. Giggly and wise. A lover of playdoh and poetry. An artist and a scientist.
Without her joy and wonder, the earth might be flat and getting to know her is like exploring a whole new universe.