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C09P31 – Timu Shadow

C09P31 – Timu Shadow published on 13 Comments on C09P31 – Timu Shadow

Oh Tama. In some ways, you’ve come so far. And in other ways, you’re still just a child. It’s funny how working with kids has changed my perspectives on adults. More and more, it seems to me that none of us are really much different than children. We’ve just become less emotionally transparent to others and ourselves.

Take a situation on the playground (or, as I like to call it, Purgatory) that I encountered last week. There were two girls, we’ll call them Jenny and Kim. Jenny runs up to me, all upset, and says, “Kim’s being really mean, because she asked if I wanted to play a game with her and I said ‘No’ and now she’s avoiding me and gossiping about me.”

“That sounds really frustrating,” I said, “You do have a right to say ‘No’ to things, and people need to learn to respect that. Do you want me to talk to her?” She nodded, and we walked over to where Kim was. I talked to Kim about being respectful of the decisions of others. As I was speaking, her eyes teared up, her lips started quivering, and all of a sudden she started bawling.

“But Jenny says she has a secret and she’s my best friend and I don’t understand why she won’t tell me what it is because I thought she trusted me!”

At which point Jenny burst into tears over hurting her best friend, and I found myself surrounded by two miniature melt-downs. Once everything had calmed down and been sorted out, I found the event stuck in my thoughts. All I could think about was how so many adult interactions boiled down to something just like the situation I’d witnessed People who feel hurt because a friend can’t share something private, who then assume the worst and start to gossip, which then makes the secret-keeper feel like their boundaries aren’t being respected. The only difference is that adults often pretend they don’t feel hurt and deflect, target non-related problems, blame other stresses, etc. Even if they can identify the actual source of their pain, instead of addressing it, they’ll often nurture a grudge about it. Sometimes for years. Heck, I’ve done that myself. And I’ll say this for kids: As frustrating as it was to try and work those two girls through their friendship kerfuffle, at least it was clear what was wrong.

It makes me wonder what being an adult is really about. When you’re young, you think grown-ups have all the answers. They you get older and you realize nobody has any answers at all, they’re just muddling through and hoping the skills developed in prior experiences are enough to get them through their current problems. So if getting older doesn’t have anything to do with getting answers, what does it mean to be a grown up?

13 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

Whhyyyy am I not surprised their relationship functioned like this?

Okay, so here is what I have learned in all my vast experience of adult-ness (so, like, two years). Being an adult means learning that you don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay, and also that you will never have all the answers, and that’s also okay. It means learning to trust your own judgment enough to make your own choices, but not so much that you stop listening when other people say you’re in the wrong. It means doing your best to fix things if you screw them up, but also realizing that you will never completely fix things and that all you can really do is just keep working toward being a better person.

So… yeah.

I think I realized earlier than most that adults don’t have all the answers, that they have personal flaws and limited knowledge and everything. It took me longer to work out all the implications of that, but the seed was planted very early. I was eighteen when I finally formally picked over the ideology I’d been fed as a child and dismantled it piece by piece, keeping some bits I thought valuable and chucking a great deal of the rest. It took me a while to regrow a robust worldview, and I’m not done (do not intend to be done) but I’ve got enough of a foundation to work with.

Adulthood means different things to different people. I’ll say I sure appreciate the self-determination afforded by adulthood and a decent job. Things as simple as choosing where you eat, when, and what can make a big difference in how your day plays out. I never truly went hungry as a child, but I sometimes did get told to wait for dinner, it was coming soon… and an hour later I’d finally pick up food with hands that’d started to shake a little. Being able to satisfy a craving for meat, or citrus, or some particular flavor is a wonderful thing. It only gets more important when you start to figure out how to tune your own biorhythms, to be awake and alert when you need it, to sleep well when you must. And then you apply the same skills to shaping your social environment, not just avoiding or seeking out individuals but supporting those who make the group better and undermining those who make things worse. That’s a big part of what I’m learning in adulthood so far: How much I can shape my environment for the better, and the methods to do it.

And I remember being a child. I know I wasn’t stupid back then, but I sure was less effective, less experienced, less robust to certain kinds of disruptions. My social skills in particular lagged far behind, and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since, and finally have gotten close to the norm.

But… anyhow. Being an adult is being your own person, making your own choices, no longer completely unable to escape the power of others, often able to avoid falling into the hands of people who don’t deserve the privilege of shaping your fate.

If you take this view of things, the next question you ask yourself is this: How will I treat my children, how will I shape them, how will I let them chose their own path, so that when they’ve grown up they won’t look back with the same regrets and resentments I have felt?

That’s definitely a question I’ve thought a lot about since I started teaching kids. I particularly want to teach them the importance of self-respect, and validate how they feel in a given moment. At the same time, I also want to pass on the importance of respecting others in addition to yourself, and why empathy for the way other people feel is also as important as how they feel. It’s such a tight rope to walk!

I wonder if this event has something to do with Warren’s scar? I seem to remember Tama and Zhiro had something to do with that 😛

I don’t actually feel like an adult. I want to, but I think for me, being an adult is to be effective and competent, of which I’m neither. When I’m brave enough to face the world properly, I’ll be happy enough to call myself a proper adult!

Most of the time I don’t feel much like an adult either. Although, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably far more effective and competent than you give yourself credit for. Besides, there is no “proper” way to face the world. Just the way that works best for you.

Now that’s interesting, as somewhat earlier she was still in la-la land about their being a happy little family and Tama had to remind her how mean he had been to Zhiro.

I like your way of letting us know she is progressively leaving the dominion of the Goddess of Illusions for the real world.

Ah, that’s interesting. I had thought she had a relationship with that goddess similar to Zhiro’s with DreamEater’s; except with far less control over it. What with Kali’s powers, it would have made Tama the most normal of the lot… or should I said mundane.

To me, becoming an adult has meant the long process of learning that it’s okay to admit you don’t have all the answers. To learn to ask for help, to lean on other people. To accept the things that I like, enjoy, and do that society doesn’t approve of, and stop hiding them. To accept and love myself.

I’m still struggling with that. But it’s getting slowly better.

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