When I was little, my dad called me Julia-Boolia or JB for short. I loved that nickname, because he said it with such affection and lightheartedness. My siblings sometimes called me JB but it was more of a taunt. They were trying to wreck it. I can still feel the delight in my body when I think of my Dad calling me Julia-Boolia. There was a pure love, a little girl, someone – me – who pleased her daddy. It was worth protecting then and it is worth protecting now.
My JB is still inside me, that delight, that playfulness, that silly girl who inspired her daddy’s affection. But so is the taunt. I’ve internalized not just my father’s kindness, but my siblings’ mocking. When JB peeks out and wants to play, my inner voice is likely to ridicule her, make her feel unimportant, like a baby, stupid. (My inner voice is not always eloquent, just effective.) She’s all business, all work and no play. There is no time for JB.
You probably have that inner child who wants to play. Wants to create. Mine wanted to write! But my inner bitch kept saying there were more important grown-up things I had to do first. Like earn a living, make dinner, pick up the kids, sort those clothes. My inner bitch was wrecking it. So JB moped. She snuck ice cream and drew on the walls. She’s a first class foot dragger when she can’t have fun.
After about a year of sticking to a schedule, marshaling my will to serve the inner bitch, I had very little to show for it. JB had seen to it that the inner bitch’s agenda was adhered to, but once I was sitting at the desk, not a lot got done. Some work, followed by sabotage. Spider Solitaire and TV. The inner drama created uncertainty, lack of focus, and most importantly – lack of joy or engagement.
I’ve decided to let JB call the shots. I’m writing every day for a couple of hours. I’m walking after that. These are the grown-up equivalents of what JB liked to do. JB is still very much with me, and when I give her a chance she can bring me to a beautiful place in my mind, and in my life.
JB liked imagination games – we often played that we were princesses with a very strict King father, who for some reason hated everything modern. When we were alone, we were very cool princesses – rocking out to the hits on our transistor radios, and when the “king” was coming all that had to be hidden away, and we pretended we were very traditional young ladies. We would take turns playing the king – berating the princesses for modern tastes, warning us about the dangers of rock music and short skirts. I’m not sure why this game/theme prevailed with me and my friends, but that was our game, and we played it for hours. It felt deliciously rebellious to boldly be who we were meant to be, despite our powerful and capricious father.
I also loved playing tag and swinging statues on long summer evenings after supper. The kids on our dead end, ran out gleefully aware that this was stolen time, and soon we’d all be called in to go to bed. We ran around the neighborhood, catching fireflies and flopping on someone’s lawn to look up into the stars and talk about how great life was. Often we’d want to know what the other got for supper, or dessert. Simple pleasures maybe, be critically important then.
It is important to remember and revive my JB. When JB is happy, everyone is happy. My day is productive because there is no resistance. No one is trying to wreck it. I wonder who would play swinging statues with me. (smile.)