I chose this photo of myself as a dough-faced (not to be confused with doe-eyed), serious little two year old, glancing up with annoyance after having been interrupted from some very important scholarly endeavors mainly, I think, because this picture reminded me of the fact that, despite the grownup perspective of a toddler as this silly, adorable, not-to-be-taken-seriously bundle of giggles and baby-blubbering, with the little, helium-laced voice, this was absolutely in no way how I perceived myself at that age. I would have been highly insulted and plagued with shame (the nerve!). Within that fluffy, cute as a wittle button exterior, was a highly delusional, self-confident mind, wholly unaware–or unaccepting–of its “infant status” and of all of the limitations and (perceived) disrespect that that status would entail.
When I was sent to time-out, it felt, to me, like a humiliating banishment; adults didn’t get sent to time-out, weren’t made to leave the social premises like an inferior BEAST–why was I?! Even after I’d served my time, I would refuse to show my face for hours afterwards, due, in part, to my loss of dignity and, in part, as a way to punish my persecutors by depriving them of my rewarding presence. In the photo, I think a certain degree of this defiance and these delusions of maturity shine through in my unamused eyes as I ambitiously pretend to read two books, simultaneously, while enjoying on a fine afternoon feast of Raisin Bran (a rather sophisticated choice for a baby!) and binky bottle milk (not helping the desired image).
To sum it all up, we have…On the inside: my proud, slightly-less-than-accurate self-perception of a fully-functional, strong (I’d even go so far as powerful) and dignified warrior/scholar ready to take on the world.
On the outside: a two foot tall, two year young baby-child, sitting in a high chair, spilling milk/attempting to use a spoon–fully equipped with bottle and children’s books which are being incorrectly and imaginatively narrated by a high-pitched, illiterate little voice.
It’s funny, because when I think about myself now, 23 and technically a grownup, I am regularly baffled by the way people trust me with responsibilities and expect me to “conduct myself” in a way befitting of a “lady” and to pay BILLS and RENT (what is this, some kind of a SICK JOKE?!?)
With all of these inner/outer, baby/woman, surface/exterior, sane/insane-in-the-membrane identity swaps, it makes me wonder whether we ever really accept and identify with our literal ages, or whether the age of the body and the age of the mind are two separate and distinct matters altogether.