My children see life in a very simple way. People who enter their spheres of influence have functions, their identity is centred around what they do and how they facilitate the kid’s lives. Their teachers are great if they tell good stories, smile and are kind. Their parents ferry them around, chat to them, play board games with them, love and care for them. Their best friends are the ones who want to play the same games as them at lunch time.
Clothes are given the same treatment, can I move in this? does it scratch? does it feel nice? Hobbies are pursued with joy, chores with resignation. Life is either fair or unfair and the balance must always be kept.
There is self reflection but also a total unselfconsciousness in their approach to life and their appearance. If you need to dress for warmth and comfort while also celebrating your favourite football team or colour there is a risk that you may leave the house looking a little strange. If your tummy is round at the end of the day that means that it is full and will be flat again by the morning. If it stays round for a few weeks that means that very soon you will grow taller and so there is close monitoring of growth against the kitchen door.
Just as Roald Dahl wrote in ‘The Twits’ a person can be very ‘beautiful’ but a child won’t notice this if they are mean. A child notices first if someone smiles and speaks to them with kindness -"their good thoughts.. shine out of their faces"
When does the change happen? When does the self criticism and the judgment of others kick in? Can I protect my children from it? Is it environmental?
We have a neighbour who is eight, who really upset me when she told me that she won’t eat crisps because they are fattening. I told her that our brains need fat to grow and snacking on crisps occasionally is totally fine. She still chose not to eat them. I never want my children to be afraid of food. I always want them to see people’s inner beauty first. I want them to dress with confidence in
whatever clothes they want. I want to do all of those things too.