In this series, “Strength in Numbers” I interview humans at different ages and stages of life. The other day I sat down with my 12-year-old cousin Lilla to ask how it feels to be in her shoes. The internet was out, I did not have my list of questions with me, so this is a shortened version of my ongoing series.
Lilla has just finished sixth grade and is looking forward to going on to seventh. She hears rumors that her language arts teacher will be pretty great. That’s good news for this smart kid because as an accomplished storyteller and artist she loves to explore new ideas and concepts. Lilla has long brown hair and pale skin with freckles. She dons a girl scout cookie T-shirt and plain black pants. She sits across from me in the MacTom living room surrounded by the remnants of games she and her younger brother played on this rainy day. It is our grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary party but the passing bouts of pouring rain make it difficult to be outside.
Lilla speaks confidently. Here is what she has to say.
What is making you happy right now?
That I’m alive.
What is bothering you?
This couch is too soft. It makes for an uncomfortable seating arrangement.
Tell me a happy memory.
At the tail end of the school year three years ago [when Lilla was nine], the teacher let us do whatever we wanted for a day. I played tag, then drew, then read a book and then I wrote a little because me and my friend were playing a game where one of us drew a picture and the other person had to write a caption explaining what the picture was.
What is something small you regret?
I regret not helping a kid in my class who dropped their papers. I didn’t help pick them up.
What is something big you regret?
Not trying to sign up to go on a trip to Tanzania hosted through my school.
What is something you’re looking forward to in the near future?
Next year I’ve been told we have the best language arts teacher in the whole school. I like school because you get to learn something new every day. Science is fun. Ideas are always changing. I want to go to college. I might like to study law, but in a perfect world, I would be an author. I write something at least six days a week. There’s an ongoing story I’m writing, so far it’s sixty pages. It’s about three friends in high school and how they have dreamed of being sports stars and being on their school’s sports teams, but they’ve never gotten there. All of a sudden they get what they want, but it tears their friendships apart. It’s sounding crappy and corny as I’m describing it but it’s a pretty okay story in my opinion.
When you imagine yourself in your head, how old are you?
[You imagine yourself as 27?]
[I’ve never received that answer before. It’s tripping me out. Where are you when you imagine yourself?]
I imagine myself in white space. I look like a silhouette.
What’s the best thing about being you?
I’m so early off in life, there are so many things I am yet to be. There are so many choices I can make. There’s nothing set in stone.
[Thank you so much for answering my questions. Keep up with your writing.]
Check out the other interviews in my Strength in Numbers series!