Or is there always a child inside
Do you ever catch yourself out telling a tiny tiny fib that you immediately feel bad about even if it’s really nothing?
I just did that, and I felt bad. In fact not exactly bad but naughty, as in naughty child.
I can remember telling my mother the usual fibs that looking back were not major, but felt naughty. That sort of feeling that you know you’re doing something wrong, but you want to giggle!
Doing it just now, brought back all those childhood memories of getting into trouble for things, or for things my sister did and blamed me, or vice versa! And not being able to control the urge to laugh and letting out a giggle, only to get into more trouble for that!
In a way doing it now is worse because it was such a small thing that I could easily told the truth and it really wouldn’t have mattered.
The fact that I fibbed to my husband makes me feel bad. Why? Because it was such a stupid thing to fib about. I don’t think he even heard me!
The reason I’m writing this is the feeling that bubbled up in me, and the secret giggle I had to myself.
Sometimes I think we never actually grow up.
Do we have an inner child?
This led me to think about whether we do truly grow up or whether, no matter what life throws at us, and it’s thrown plenty at me let me tell you, we still retain inside ourselves something of the child we once were.
This actually turns out to be a much more complicated question, once you start to unpack it.
Take me, for example, I had a mainly happy early childhood overall. I had a younger sister and a still younger brother. I didn’t get on with my sister. I was 5 when she was born and I probably resented her. She, in turn, never got on with my brother, she resented him because she felt he was favored by our mother! Typical family stuff.
Now, our mother. A complicated woman who had a nervous breakdown when I was 2. I have no recollection of this, of course, and I don’t know if it changed her. But after I went to school she certainly changed towards me.
I was the child whose mother never turned up to the school concert when I was performing, the child left out side school because my mother was late picking me up.
Worse than that, I was the child who couldn’t do anything right because I was stupid.
I never knew what mood she would be in when I came home from school, from college, from work. I was always apprehensive, a complete nest of butterflies residing in my stomach.
Sometimes, she would be ok, but there were other times when she would fly into a rage with me for no reason that I could discern. The last time she did this was just before I got married. I was 21.
She continued to harangue me after my marriage. My house was dirty, my children were spoilt, I was lazy (even though I was bringing up five children with a husband who worked long hours).
I never understood any of this. I had memories of a loving mother looking after me when I had measles, fun times when we would be out in the wind, laughing because it nearly blew us over.
Over the years my sister and I have had many discussions about what we both had to put up with. We know a lot more now and have worked out her personality.
We think we understand her a bit better which enables us to deal with her better. She is 90 now and looks to each of us to provide her with the support she needs.
The poet Philip Larkin wrote a poem called This Be The Verse. It starts like this:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.Philip Larkin
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
He ends the poem by advising “don’t have any kids yourself’. A bit extreme maybe!
So, do we ever grow up?
I know that my childhood, though it was difficult, is nowhere near the sort of childhoods that others endure, and I’m not trying to make light of those things. I can only write from my own experiences.
There were happy times, and my father was a wonderfully steadying hand on my mother’s rocky ride. He was my sanctuary and my rock and I miss him every day.
I believe strongly that the child we once were remains deep inside. I see it in my grown up children when they play with their own children or collapse in giggles over something when they are together.
I was determined that my children would never feel afraid to come home from school like I was, or lied to me because they were too afraid to tell the truth. And I mean real lying not fibbing.
I wanted them to have a completely open, honest and happy childhood.
Those things are what makes the deeply rooted inner child. The one that still tells the odd fib and has a secret giggle over it!