“We’re just children walking around, surprised that we’re tall.” (Noel Fielding).
What age are you? And what age do you feel, really? For so long, I have blamed it on being ‘the baby of the family’ – my inability to hold my own in an argument, my infuriating indecision, my propensity to burst into tears the moment things get tough.
Standing above myself, trying to be grown up, I see a whole heap of childishness in my behaviour. A few days ago I caught myself shouting at my five year old, “stop shouting!”. As soon as I did it, I had to grow up again and say sorry. But that’s also the thing – often my children are quicker to apologise and forgive than I am.
I am frequently intimidated by other adults, and never remember I am their equal. I forget I have two degrees, two children and lived in two places away from where I am now. I am a ten year old again. Or 16 at a push. My only comfort has been that if you’d asked that question of my 92 year old granny on her death bed, she would have said she still feels like a teenager.
As I reflect, I wonder if maybe most of us feel like that, if we’re not too proud to admit it. Even the most pompous of people are just toddlers spitting out their dummies to yell blue murder until they get their own way. Of course, to link unsavoury types to children is unjust. But to see everyone as needy and dependent also helps with loving them. And not feeling inferior to them. Before my ‘first female surgeon in Northern Ireland’ mum went with great trepidation to an interview after 20 years of being a house-wife, my dad told her to remember that everyone on the panel takes their trousers down to go to the toilet. Maybe if she’d seen them all as tall children playing at being grown-ups that would have helped too.
We do need to ‘be the bigger person’ and show strength, leadership and decisiveness as we stride about our daily lives. But mostly it’ll just be a temporary game of ‘let’s pretend’ before we step back down into our little selves. And I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that, is there?