Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby Talk

You are a big baby.

No, don't take it as an insult. I'm a big baby too. Proudly.

It's like Sandra Cisneros says in her wonderful book of vignettes called the House on Mango Street. "What they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two and one... Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree truck or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other."

So I for one want people to remember that sometimes I'm a baby, a teenager, a bride, a middle-aged mama, all at once; I am determined to remain more mindful that those around me are needy preschoolers, gawky tweens, ambitious college kids, even when their years outnumber mine, because it helps me remember our humanity. I am tired of my own intolerance toward people, and I am exhausted of the intolerance I witness. We tend to talk about children like they are sacred members of society but only until they become adults. What then? Yes, I see children as sacred. And the children you and I once were did not die, we simple grew our onion skins around them, some layers thicker than other; we too should respect the sacredness of one another.

I write this on election night, as I watch malicious slander turn democracy into a competition of who you most want to vote against, a contest of the lesser evils. For once I found myself almost able to imagine not using my rights and exercising my responsibility to go to the polls. Almost. (But my inner adolescent caved to the peer pressure on Facebook, the little girl in me listened to my grandma's voice inside my head, and my six-year-old self needed to wear that "I Voted" sticker to school today.)

I write this after overhearing one educator completely out of patience with a peer, disparaging their colleague in a way they would never treat a child in their classroom. If they heard their students speak in a like manner, they'd pull out some social stories and teach some important lessons!

Don't get me wrong, I espouse the idea, "You ought to be old enough to know better." Adults should act like adults - responsible, knowledgeable, reliable - and adults should face consequences for childishness. But by that same token, self-centered name calling IS childishness. Petty bickering, tug-of-war selfishness IS childishness.

All I'm saying is that, as adults, we can talk until infinity about the importance of inclusion in schools, anti-bullying measures in high schools and colleges, and friendship circles for kids, but we err when we think the cutoff for those needs comes at age 13 or 18 or 21. We (and I mean me, too) need to respect the feelings and the value of each and every person, big babies or small.

I am a big baby, and I endorse this message.


5 comments:

kim mccafferty said...

AMEN!!

adiaryofamom said...

as adults, we can talk until infinity about the importance of inclusion in schools, anti-bullying measures in high schools and colleges, and friendship circles for kids, but we err when we think the cutoff for those needs comes at age 13 or 18 or 21. We (and I mean me, too) need to respect the feelings and the value of each and every person, big babies or small.

a-friggin-men

Pie Maker said...

You RULE. I love your onion analogy, it works well. Great insight here.

Niksmom said...

Yep, I agree with Pie Maker. TOTALLY! xo

CSM said...

Thank you so very much for the light and humor, and thoughtfulness and wisdom you have brought into my life since the day I stumbled onto your blog. Thank you for taking the time to share a bit of yourself with the world around you.