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I have my own personal pantheon of characters that don’t so much identify me as represent random things I wish I could achieve; or they at least remind me of seasons of life that did mold me quite a bit… James T. Kirk, Tony Soprano, Andy Griffith (naturally), Sarah Connor, and Frasier Crane make up a lot of the pop culture mosaic that is Me, or at least the Me I’d like to be.
From the first episode of “The Big Bang Theory”, I knew Sheldon was going to be a thing, and my reasons continue to evolve as I do.
At first, I admired his ridiculous IQ. I always considered myself to be a dumb smart person. I was in the top ten percent of my high school class, but I was 23 out of 236, so just barely. Our Valedictorian is an actual rocket scientist today. He’s a Sheldon. I got into a great university, but I got the lowest grades of anyone I knew. My little Sister in my sorority is a published Ph.D. and a professor at Yale. She’s a Sheldon.
During season 6 of the show, I became a mom, and during season 8, I found out my son was on the spectrum. There has always been talk that Sheldon has Asperger’s, or something similar, so I started studying him in a whole new way. As my son has grown up, he is quite intelligent, but he has that super annoying way of seeing the world, quite vigorously, in black and white. Like Sheldon, he’s never wrong in his observations, but when I laugh at Leonard and Penny rolling their eyes at Sheldon, I am reminded, it’s not so funny to them and, on some days, I am Leonard and Penny.
As I continue to watch reruns on a daily basis, I am more and more aware of how my son’s quirky observations are not personal attacks on me, or even personal at all. Just the way things look to him in an empirical and truthful way—“Mom, maybe you need a nap.” Funny how life imitates art and gives me a safe place to find those extra bucketfuls of patience required by momhood. I watch The Good Doctor for the same reason.
The most recent Sheldonization focuses on what I believe is my latest phase of life I’ll call extreme adulting. Really… how much better might the world be if we all followed ironclad roommate and relationship agreements to the letter?
Also, last month was Mother’s Day, and while I did call my own mom, the whole day went by without much thought for myself. Sheldon says holidays are just an exchange of money and obligation that make up part of our collective social contract. Well, I love being a mother every day, so I wasn’t really interested in putting an obligation on Son to do something special. Honestly, I can think of a dozen ways to spend money that will help someone who really needs it rather than indulging my already well-provided-for life. I feel the same about Valentine’s Day. I love my Sweetheart every day and have a wondrous marriage that does not require him to freak out over “the perfect card” once a year. Not ragging on any of these things, or others’ appreciation for them… I just don’t see the need any more for myself.
On the flip side, I continue to work on my Frasier Crane skills because I want to have the kind of empathy the world really requires. While I’d love to have Sheldon’s brain and his simple way of understanding and looking at life, I do think it wise to let the compassion bucket overflow often. Elsewhere, I want the fearlessness and quick thinking of Captain Kirk, the wisdom and kindness of Sheriff Taylor, the cleverness and loyalty of Tony Soprano, and plenty of Sarah Connor when those other things just won’t get the job done.