March 18, 2009 2 Comments
Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another, they are not cute. They are life-sized. –Margaret Atwood
Last spring, when Nicholas was 3 years 5 months old, I found a picture of myself at 3 years 5 months old. Not only did I see a strong resemblance between us, but I found that gazing at that photo of myself as a child helped me to remember what it was like to be that young and small. I tucked the picture into the frame of my bedroom mirror so I could look at it each day and remind myself to be kind to the two people who look so much like that cute little girl: my cute little boy and my grownup self.
After about ten months, Nicholas outgrew his resemblance to that particular photo–his face is less round and babylike now–so I replaced it with the next one I have. This photo doesn’t have a specific date on the back, but it must have been taken when I was about 4 years old. Although I was still quite cute at that age, the camera captured a look in my eyes that, to quote Daniel, seems capable of setting things on fire! I don’t remember the photo being taken; I don’t know if I was angry or thinking hard or looking at something outside the sliding glass door next to which I was sitting, but I do remember that when I was 4 I felt many intense feelings, thought about many difficult things, and was seeing things in new ways all the time. I see that same intensity in my son’s eyes sometimes.
One of my parents’ greatest strengths as parents has been their ability to remember what it’s like to be various ages and to relate to me on the level where I was at the time. I strive to have this strength myself. Certainly I have lots of memories, beginning very early in life, but sometimes I get caught up in being who I am now. Sometimes I catch myself looking at my child from my outside, adult, high-up perspective and thinking, “Ohh, how cuuute!” and forgetting that to himself, he is life-sized.
The picture helps. One glance reminds me: That was me. I wore that dress. I was only as tall as the door handle. But at the time, I was life-sized.
It works for me!