She’s just trying to live inside her own body. I need to remember that.
Even I, who has inhabited my own body and mind for 38 long and short years, still have my doubts about how to feel more comfortable in my skin. I stare at mirrors in private, behind the locked doors of a bathroom. I poke and pull at my skin and pluck at hairs that grow in wrong places.
Flashes of brilliant living sometimes occur in suburbia. I eat right for a few weeks and I finally feel good in the body I live in. I read the right books and feel like I’ve swum in the river and I feel sharp in my mind. I can write! Yes. For a few days, hours or so I can write. And the words feel like they were meant to be born.
But most of the minutes of my life I have spent trying to make myself feel more free in the sensitive skin I’ve been given.
And I expect this child, even after only seven years of life, to feel fully formed in who she is.
She’s trying to figure it all out, even more than me.
She’s a whirling dervish behind me as I clean the house. She falls off chairs and knocks over bottles of soda. She steps on toes and walks into traffic. She runs into old people at the mall.
And I get angry.
“Why can’t you just control your body?” I ask her through clenched teeth. And then its times like this I remember she’s seven. Just seven. And even I can’t control my own body. I put food into it that shouldn’t be consumed. I forget the second application of sunscreen. I can’t keep my eyes open on a Wednesday afternoon.
I expect so much of her, it seems. To conform to society. To understand people. To live in ways it has taken me almost four decades to learn. And even as I expect it I know it is too much sometimes.
She’s beautiful when she twirls and when she falls and when she runs, even if she’s looking back at me laughing. She’s a captivating human who has been formed exactly like she’s meant to be.
If I want something from her, it shouldn’t be to stop running. It should be to succeed where I have failed: that she will begin, even now to feel fully comforted in who she is.