I’m not the kind of parent who makes demands of my kids. I don’t sign my son up for football camp because every other boy in his class is in it. I won’t try to coerce my daughter into a tutu in the hope that she’ll become a pirouetting vision in pink.
However, there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to books and movie/TV viewing. One of these is Anne of Green Gables. As soon as they’re old enough, I fully intend to sit them down and introduce them to the red-haired girl who was such a huge part of my own childhood. I say “them,” because I hope my boy will enjoy it too. But for a young girl (I think 10 to 12 is the perfect age to meet Anne Shirley for the first time), it’s one of those series that can have an enormous impact on the way she views the world — and herself.
Some of what I learned from Anne of Green Gables (and its numerous sequels) I wasn’t actually aware of until I was an adult. Like any life-changing show (or film, or book), what it means to me and how it’s shaped my life has become clearer over time. I hope my daughter, too, learns some of these lessons from Anne with an “e.”
1. Make having fun a priority
Sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, the world is a crappy place. Too often, all the difficult, depressing, painful stuff gets in the way of having fun. So when the opportunity for fun does fall into your lap, scoop it up and hold onto it for as long as you can. Race down sand dunes with your best friend. Run into the sea (with our without clothes on.) Spend time with people you love and make them laugh. Have as much fun as you possibly can, because it’s a luxury.
2. Always stand up for yourself
It might be the kid who teases you in the playground, the people who question your political beliefs or the boss who treats you differently than your male colleagues. Be brave in those moments. Stand tall and assert yourself. (Of course, violence in the classroom doesn’t really have a place in 2016, but go Anne.)
3. Never underestimate the power of daydreaming
Don’t get so bogged down in what you have to do — exams, jobs, bills, taxes, laundry — that you never have time to spend on what you long to do. Anne Shirley was a master daydreamer. Her love of poetry took her to places far from Green Gables. Give yourself permission to go to your places, wherever they may be.
4. Everyone needs at least one kindred spirit in their life
It might be the friend you’ve had since you were too young to remember meeting for the first time. It might be the college roommate you instantly clicked with. It might be someone who doesn’t come into your life until much later — but when he or she does, you can’t imagine them not being there. True kindred spirits, like Anne and her “bosom friend” Diana, don’t come along every day, so when you find one, don’t ever let them go.