Self_Consciousness_by_ayleAs long as I can remember, your growing up has been a melancholy delight. Challenges have always popped up, but nothing we can’t handle. I may miss the baby I once knew, but I always enjoy the older, more complex girl I’m still getting to know.

This month has felt different. If you ever wonder to yourself: When did my childlike innocence begin to fade? When did I start worrying about the opinions of others? When did my emotions become complex things that don’t always leave, that take different shapes at night, that persist, grow, return unwanted?

The answer, in my opinion, was sometime during the month of March, 2015.

This isn’t a dark or sad time, and is still wonderful in so many ways, but things have changed–and changed between us, it seems. But neither of us has adapted. Not yet.

There’s a sadness behind your eyes when we play that’s hard to describe. You’re not enjoying making animals talk as much these days, but won’t really entertain the possibility that you’ve outgrown it.  You blamed me for this, gently suggesting I wasn’t being as fun as usual. While I think it’s possible my efforts on an artistic level have jumped the shark and the material has simply gotten old, I know it’s not my enthusiasm that’s to blame. So I suspect it’s yours, but you just don’t know it yet.

In a weird parallel twist, your friend James had been avoiding you at school, which was hurting your feelings. According to him: he didn’t want to play the “baby game” anymore. You told him “fine,” but confessed it was “hard to hang out with him and not talk like a baby” since that was all you’ve done together. Even your friendships are changing.

You become sad often. You get angry with us and we don’t know why. When we try to work on it with you, you get angrier, sometimes yelling things like “oh my GOD,” while we’re in the middle of a sentence…

You got a haircut a couple weeks ago, much like the last one, and just like last time, you were happy and then cried later. Through tears you asked “what if my friends don’t like it?” Those words cut the air like a question about sex. That’s new. And that hurts. You’re at the doorstep of a long, tortured phase of your life that, if you’re lucky, you will someday outgrow completely. You have now begun to dwell in and react to what you think are the thoughts of others. (And maybe that’s why you’re getting angry with us so much?)

It’s a developmental stage that I’m sure is critical to our own awakening…but the Dad in me wishes you could skip it and get on with being a Buddha, because this is a whole new kind of pain in your life that is as unnecessary and imaginary as a monster in your closet.

We’ll see. Maybe it’s just a tough month. But right now you and I are in a weird place, and we need something to help us connect again.


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