This happened the other day while we were visiting my SIL's place for Diwali. I was enjoying an afternoon siesta whereas my hubby was babysitting our 10 month old since she refused to sleep. His sister too gave them company. I was awoken to my baby crying loudly. When I rushed out to see what was ailing her, she started smiling on seeing me and clapped her hands. As I picked her up in my arms, she slobbered my face with wet kisses - so overwhelmed was she to see me! I cannot even begin to express how that made me feel.
Its fun watching the play of various expressions on my daughter's face - her joy on beholding something she loves, her fear on encountering strangers or loud noise, her inquisitive look when she finds something new and interesting, her disgust when she tastes something she doesn't like, her anger when she is in the middle of a tantrum and her hurt when I scold her.... The expressions of a child are so refreshingly transparent. They leave nothing to read between the lines.
Why can't we, as adults, express ourselves this openly? When do we lose the capacity to mirror our thoughts while growing up? With the disappearing transparency of our expressions, we consciously lose transparency in our speech and actions too. Somewhere down the line subtlety, tact and cunning replace the innocence of our childhood. We are afraid to show our hurt, we bolster our fear with bravado, we mask our love, restrain our anger and abhor public displays of affection. We do all this under the guise of etiquette and social norms. Unfortunately not only does this increase our stress, it also leads to a lot of miscommunication. And yet, we are touched by the simple manners of village folk or those urban folks who have managed to salvage their innocence.
It is true that society demands all this so that people do not hurt each other through thoughtless speech. And its true also that most negative emotions are hidden due to fear of rejection by society. But perhaps when we teach our young ones to become less transparent, we should also tell them why it is being taught. This may help them to discern when to mask which feelings and when to express others.
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