One day I watched Barney for the last time.
I remember watching Barney and I remember when I found out that Barney was not “cool”. It wasn’t expressly said just like that. Kids tend take the piss out of each other so I must have overheard someone getting picked on for still watching Barney. I went four years watching a program that I would be shunned for if anyone found out I watched it. I slowly weened myself off of PBS and all of its programs, occasionally becoming hypnotized when a friend’s younger sibling was tranced by it playing in the living room.
I also remember my sister and I played pretend ALOT. We would begin with “Lets play pretend that…” and the plot would be given. We would choose our names, mine was initials JC (like JC Penny) and I always pretended to be 14. We pretended to be regular kids with SuperPowers like Power Rangers, the characters from Scooby Doo, and Blue’s Clues just to name a few. When I began playing with kids at school, the game was tag or red rover. We no longer performed, we ran as fast as we could away from each other to touch a physical object that would make us “safe”. This physical structure in my playground was an ENORMOUS log pyramid.
Especially for the little boys I played with, playing pretend was lame. Imaginary friends were lame. When the fear is that people won’t like you if you do the wrong thing, being lame ranks really high for ways to lose cool points quickly. I, too, began to understand that believing in Santa was for children at that time in my life. I thought we tell kids stories so that they get to experience magic. But oh no no no, the stories are the magic. Not the characters and their special powers. Its the creation of the story. By solely operating in the physical world, we cut our own wings. We buried the Divinely Feminine teachings of our roots.
It's the underdeveloped masculine that makes the assertion that things aren’t cool. “You like that and it makes you so happy you look like a fool? yeah no thanks”. Well whats wrong with looking like a fool, young masculine? Concerned others won’t find you fit to follow? Perhaps. We have traditionally put a lot of pressure on little boys to be heroes, so maybe in that sense there’s no time to play pretend. “There are real women in this world that need saving!” Whoops, maybe that was the lesson or maybe the unintended consequence. “Women are objects that cannot defend themselves”. Obviously this is not the conscious thought, and I’d have no issue with a man that wanted to protect me or defend me, but it gets to be a challenge when that makes them think that they can own you.
“That’s so lame!”, as if to say, “I would have no association with that, and that includes through those with whom I associate”. Maybe it was never intended to be a statement to change other people, but there’s no way to hear it without thinking you are doing something wrong. That feeling of shame haunts us forever, if we never pinpoint its origin. Is it a big deal that kids in elementary school thought something I did was lame? Ultimately, no, but if I never see it, then I’ll just continue to run the program without ever knowing where I downloaded it.
That aversion you have to people thinking you are crazy may just be the defense mechanism developed to keep us from being isolated from the group. Now that we have the option to choose your group, it may be a worthwhile endeavor to find out which childhood experiences led us to believe we weren’t good enough just as we are. Its like malware when there’s no anti-virus program. “Why is my shit [computer] running so slow?” If you never run a diagnostic, you may never know.
Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa