I have been thinking a lot about babies and birth and rights and abortion and being a kid.
What happens to the kid in you when you "become" an adult.
Is it as easy as saying, I'm an adult now? Not a kid? No more kid in me! All adult.
When you make such a declaration, what are you often asked to do? Show it! So many of us spend a lot of time showing ourselves and everyone else around us how adult we are. How responsible, how well we manage time, how long we can pay attention. It's an abrupt shift. That happens at different times socially for women than it does for men. We are children and then we are adults. There is no transition period. We are judged and held accountable immediately after this artificial, socially defined boundary between child and adult is drawn. Whether we are ready for it or not. For me, that came early. When I became a mother. At 19.
But really, we never "stop" being kids. Even as parents.
I had a revelation today. I've been an "adult" for quite some time. I have a seven year old child and have been supporting myself since I moved out of my parent's house at 17. The emphasis on adulthood is actually quite comical, given the fact that once we are adults and have settled into it, what do we want most? To be a kid!
As I mentioned, I have a seven year old and God forbid he be called a baby. Yet, he wants to fall asleep next to me and doesn't trust himself to turn the hot water on in the shower on his own because he's afraid it'll get hot too fast. And, at the same time, wants so badly to be big. To be an adult. Not a kid.
Where does he get this idea that it's better to be an adult than a kid. Why does he yearn for it?
Why is being a kid something our kids want to escape?
A kid talks more about this idea here.
How do we look at ourselves? As adults? As once-were kids?
What if we valued the parts of our childhood that helped us be better adults?
Or, better yet, better people?
The funny thing about being an adult, is we think that we lose our kid selves.
But we don't.
If we follow societal norms, we just silence them.
Because, our kid thoughts and ideas don't usually represent what society values.
Yet, "kid perspectives" are also valued as fresh, unadultrated and new.
What do our parents, teachers and society do if not try to instill us with different ways of looking at the world....yet, much of what many of us learn comes from our kid instincts, our own places of deep curiosity. From birth we are trying to figure out the world around us. Are we smart? Fat? Silly? High Strung? Annoying? Cute? Before we realize the structure of society around us, we are just us.
Yes, we cater to our parent's laughter, the criticism of society and approval from our teachers because they feed us! And we love them. But mostly we are just learning, soaking up information.
As adults, many of us squash thoughts that encourage authentic thinking outside the box. Most people feel most comfortable if they know how and where they fit in society. I am smart so I get good grades. I am funny and so I tell jokes. I am the eldest so I need to be a good role model, etc.
Now, that's not to say everyone follows these ideas blindly but how we react to what society places on us thus determines our identity and how we'd like to be seen. So, in this way we choose who we are based on the feedback we get from those around us, by and large.
I'd like to ask more adults to be more childish! To encourage curiosity and silly questions! To not listen to the feedback society gives us on how to be. To value the part of you that first beheld this world and to think, that you as a child, actually had a lot of wisdom. Fresh perspective that's important. Especially now.
Curious about how you can tap into your kid-self? Especially if that's a part of you you thought you'd shut away forever? Treat yourself as you would your child. With as much love, patience and understanding as you can muster. If you don't have a child, how about your best friend's baby?
With respect, with love, without judgement. With encouragement. Too many of us treat ourselves and our impulses with repudiation, judgement and negative criticism. And that's not from us. We learn that. Maybe that's why so many people are unhappy as adults...we are telling ourselves, as adults who used to be kids, that our ideas are stupid, that we aren't enough.
Perhaps if we loved each other first as children, we'd be less judgemental, less insecure and less angry.
Kids are in this moment. That's all they know. And they forgive, easily. They understand that things are always changing and we're all trying to adjust, trying to manage, trying to flow.