What happens to us between babydom and adulthood?
When R is happy, he is completely entirely happy. He will laugh with no inhibitions, flash a huge grin at strangers and family alike, and spread joy to everyone around with the sheer simplicity of his own. Similarly, when he is miserable, regardless of the source of his sadness, (generally food being removed from his vicinity) it is the worst calamity to befall any person ever in the history of the world. His entire face will scrunch up with the force of his misery, and his cries can be truly pitiful to hear.
So why do we hide our emotions behind a ‘brave face?’ I dont mean pretending to be fine. That’s a different story, and there are many occasions where full throttle screaming or uncontrollable giggling are socially unacceptable, and rightly squashed. I mean the people (and we all know a few) who are desperate for you to know how irritated/angry or conversely how happy/excited they are. But they cant tell you. Oh no, they have to sit in a corner with a face on. And it’s just as annoying whether it is a badly suppressed scowl or a barely hidden smirk. Just say what you want to say!
It makes life so much more complicated when people feel the need to hint towards their hidden emotions, or to give you a sliver of what they’re thinking, but hold the rest back and make you dig for it. In this respect, I think babies have it right. I am left with no doubt that R is slightly displeased that I’m putting him down for a nap. I dont question for a minute that he is enjoying his chumus sandwiches, and the look on his face when I walk into his room in the morning,.. well lets just say I think he may be pleased to see me. 🙂
Additionally, once a situation is over, it’s over. While a person can hold a grudge for weeks or months, a baby forgets in the time it takes to hand them a breadstick. Really? You took away my scrunched up piece of foil? I dont remember that at all.. and equally, You have always been mean to me and never let me do anything fun, thats why you wont let me climb that bookshelf…
A grin can turn into a wail, and a scream can turn into a smile, all in seconds. While adults are left wondering how to awkwardly break the silence, or what words to use for an apology, or even how to show someone that they are not okay, a baby has either got over it or made it obvious in the blink of an eye.
At this time of year, when we are all trying to find ways to build bridges and speak from our hearts, I think we could take a leaf out of these mini people’s book, and just say what we’re feeling, both good and bad, and try to start this new year with a clean and honest slate.