Children are not for the fainthearted and always ensure that your fragile ego is well in check. In a world of Instagram filters, endless ‘likes’ and various ego boosting mechanisms (that probably lead to a bit of narcissism in us all) the candid honesty of children should be celebrated and admired. It’s something we all probably had growing up and something – perhaps out of fear that we would not be very well liked if we said what we really felt – that we might have lost somewhere along the way.
Yesterday Zahra, the eleven year old I aupair, insisted on doing my make-up. Make-up is the latest craze after years of her concocting scientific experiments in the kitchen. Borax powder, odourless gelatine and pots and pots of messy goo have been replaced with lip gloss sticks and contour kits. I have to admit, at her eleven years of age, she knows so much more than I do and is actually very good at it. (Look at me being all adulty and surprised that a child knows more than I do. Hell, I think most of the time they know so much more than we do.)
Zahra knows all about contouring and primers and how to make your eyebrow game strong. She also knows intricate factual things like how you should put BLUE concealer on blemishes. (I have never heard of this and it really does work!)
As she was doing my make up I had to laugh and love her brutally honest insights. These were some of her gems (and great self esteem boosters naaaaaaaat!) and made me realise that there is no point in taking myself too seriously, or in being too precious about my image. My favourites included :
“Chaaar, do you want me to put blue concealer on all of your spots? or just the big ones? Because it’s gonna take me soooooo long *arms in a flap* to do all of them.
“Right, I’m just gonna use this concealer under these really dark rings under your eyes.”
“Chaaar, you look so pretty. Your friends won’t recognise you. I think you should always wear your makeup like this.”
Despite the comments, I have asked her to do my make-up again for a theatre night on Thursday and she has already asked me to pay her! So, in some or other way, I must be a sucker for punishment. Or maybe I just find the honesty refreshing.
Children – when allowed the freedom to be entirely themselves – say it how it is. They do not pretend to like things if they don’t, they will not tell you that you look lovely if you do not and when you annoy them, they will say it.
On the other hand, when they love something they will revel in its joys for days. Children have this effortless ability to be able to truly enjoy things. To live purely in the moment and to find magic and intrigue in the every day. This ability to find enchantment in the ordinary reminds me of William Martin’s work, ‘Make the Ordinary Come Alive.’ In this, is a lesson for all of us, maybe ‘adults’ more so than children.
I think we can all learn many lessons from kids and the one I want to reflect on today is the fierce openness and candour innate to so many children. I think we can all cherish these nuggets of truth and encourage our children to hold onto this sense of innate surety in a world that is forever telling them (and especially young women) to not make their opinions too loud. To not convey dissatisfaction too fiercely. To not be too vocal and to simply accept things as they are. Perhaps, from the children in our own lives, we can learn a thing or two and attempt to undo some of the damage that occurs when we “become adults.” Growing up we seem to think that adulthood is something to strive for. I know, during my school days I always used to think that adulthood was my answer to everything.
“When I am an adult I’ll have it all figured out.”
When I am an adult I won’t feel sad anymore.”
“When I am an adult I will travel the world and buy a nice house and get lots of dogs.” (This is still very much on the to-do list despite financial constraints 😉
And then I became an adult and I didn’t have any of the answers and felt less sure of myself than I did was I was ten. Of course naivety does allow for one to dream a little bigger and believe in yourself a little stronger, but there is some beauty in the magic of believing. Something that adulthood can often erode due to financial pressures and life stresses and I am sure the realisation that life is tough, people are suffering and in many cases, things can be just a little bit shit. But at some point, we also have to “un-f*ck” ourselves from the stuff that made us stop believing and loving and dreaming and embrace the integrity and sometimes hilarious and brutal honesty that children so freely offer the world.
Kids have integrity alright and however much they might drive you a little nuts, or push your buttons, they generally do not bullshit. I found some of these letters and answers that children have written online and I cannot help but smile when I read them. This is the kind of integrity and honesty we need in our world.
So, the small lesson I have gleaned from Zahra’s makeup tutorial and these lovely letters, is to stand up for what is in your heart and say what you feel. When you are having a shit day, do not tell people you are simply “fine”, tell them that things are tough. If you want to laugh hysterically or cry your eyes out or dance till you cannot dance anymore or wear that ridiculous fuchsia pink dress, then do it! Adulthood has taught us to be a censored version of ourselves and it’s time we learn a lesson from the children in our lives and royally unfudge ourselves.
What lessons have you learnt from children?