Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why do I care so much?

My children have no fear. OK so that's not entirely true. Actually there is a rather long list of things that frighten them: dogs, monsters, mean guys, bad guys, the boogey man, Mom and Dad fighting, etc. But with the exception of the friendly neighborhood dog all of those "evils" which frighten them have some reasonable basis. I suppose what I mean more than fear is the idea that differences, insecurities, self-esteem, and or ego don't cloud them.

Life has not changed them. Yet. Sigh.

When we hit a playground or public space of any kind (pool, restaurant, grocery store, pathway, retail store, etc.) they are completely undetterd by others. They don't worry about age, race, dress, appearance or even language. Nothing stops them from approaching a person and questioning them or giving a statement of opinion or fact

Why do you have purple hair. I've never seen purple hair before? Mom, can I have purple hair?

Nothing deters them from making an introduction.

Hi my name is Conor. I'm five. Do you want to play hide and seek with me?

Or even sharing random comments with a complete stranger.

I'm hoping to get a transformer at Target with my piggy bank money.

I see their fearlessness and I love it. While, at other times it's completely awkward and unsettling. Yet, invariably upon my return to the car I secretly revel in whatever true statement has been uttered---oftentimes I find that I was thinking much the same thing---but my social sensor stops me from uttering these "truths". Yet my adult-ness often clouds or even ruins these otherwise innocent and wonderful observations---rather than seeing things for simply what they are, they invariably become about me and my failings, misplaced judgment, insecurities, or hang-ups.

Perfect example: Last summer this astute observation was made about a woman in the bathroom at a local pool.

Mom, her breasts are much, much bigger than the ones on your body.

This woman did have enormous breasts, that were rather perky for a woman who appeared to be in her mid-fifties which gave me serious pause. But again, I was thinking the EXACT same thing BUT I did not make this observation known to the world.

And I suspect at age 3 and 5 the observation for my children ended with the recognition of the size difference. And that's it. Not so for me. The trail of thoughts in my head became more jumbled and ridiculous:

Man, those are huge boobs.

Gosh I look like a 12 year old girl.

But they are clearly FAKE.

What's the big deal with her FAKE boobs?

Do I really care if she bought them?

Would I buy boobs?

If I am jealous of her fake boobs, what does that say about me?

God I'm pathetic.

Let's get out of here.

Let's make sure we don't come to this pool tomorrow.

God I'm pathetic.

Man, my boobs are tiny.

All of this in the span of a few moments. When all my children see is the black and white nature of the clear and obvious size difference.I suppose what they are missing is the analysis piece. When exactly do we become bogged down by these ideas? 9, 10, 14, 21, 30?

He just sees what he sees. Period. And they seem much happier for it.

I think my children have done more to help me find peace within myself than years of therapy and prozac. I guess I just need a few more decades of "child therapy." That's probably the best prescription.


  1. Loved your inner monologue! I guess most of us can relate to this kind of jumbled response, although I'm not sure I'd call it analysis. It's more like a Rorschach response, which tells us something about ourselves, but exactly what that is is up to interpretation. As the Queen of Negative Self-Talk (a lifelong condition I continue to fight), I urge you to stop thinking of yourself as pathetic. I experienced a similar epiphany about childlike straightforwardness when my young daughter noted how many times a day I called myself an "incredible idiot." So, I stopped. It actually helped.

  2. Just yesterday as I was driving through the neighborhood I saw this little kid running down the street in a Batman costume. I thought, "Now that's cool. Who DOESN'T wish they could freely do that... just do whatever makes you happy and enjoy life?" Only a kid actually does though.