Friday, 24 July 2009

The Other Side of the Looking Glass

What we appear to be is likely the face we want reflected. What it hides is a backside that is simply all our virtues turned inside out. Adults reveal that other side occasionally, inadvertently when under stress, when totally relaxed by alcohol or drugs, and also when they are in safe environments where they can trust enough to know that they will be forgiven because they are beloved.

Old people, if they are lucky, sometimes lose their inhibitions too. Jenny Joseph wrote a poem called "When I am Old, I Shall Wear Purple". It is about throwing off the constraints created by the expectations of others, including her children.

Kids are free to reveal that hidden side of themselves to trusted parents.

I met Emma last summer. Emma has absolutely no inhibitions. She is 5 now, and is loved without reserve by her father, mother and teen-aged brother. She interacts with everyone as if there are no dangers in life, as if everyone will love her as they all do.

At the party last night she went swimming wearing her skirt ... and then stripped off and went back in nude to swim and play with two little boys, aged eight and eleven, who were much more self consciously covered. When I went to take photos of their play, she splashed me and I had to move away and remonstrate about cameras and water. She didn't avoid me after that. Instead she was right there in my face hamming it up for the camera and telling me jokes. She knew that I wouldn't hold her exuberance against her.

We could all learn a great deal from Emma. I think I will start today.


Erin Kuhns said...

Yes, Emma does teach me a lot. She's a wonderful kid and really knows how to make me smile. Great pictures, btw!!!

Oma said...

She is special ... maybe all kids are ... and we don't look quite hard enough most of the time. Emma reminds me of Nature Girl in many ways. I think well-loved children have a gift of self confidence coupled with a lack of self absorption that makes them especially attractive.