It all starts in the playgrounds of our merciless society.
This week my inner-child had a wobbly and I almost derailed a process that was going along very well and happily without too much input from me. This of course is bad for the control-freak that I am. How can anything get done properly without me??!! So it starts brewing in there. Then something was organised that I didn't get invited to and I swear, that little pest that never got chosen for games on playgrounds and the school fields, threw a hissy fit. Really! At 62???!!!! When is that @#$%&* child going to go away!


The other day the women of our family gathered to buy wedding finery for the 3 children about to become Bride's Attendants in a wedding in the family. It was a good afternoon, ending at our house with Grandpa cooking a large Chicken-and-Fries dinner, tradition for the little ones. Who aren't that little anymore, but as their parents are still 'the kids', they will stay 'little' forever. As I look back on that afternoon I realise that every last one of us has a label. Adult or child, beloved-from-birth or joined-at-a-later-stage family or already-very-fond-of new family member and her mother. We all have stickers on our heads.

Then we treat one another accordingly.

This one is a reader. She is strong, resilient and has a pleasant disposition, physically lazy. He is difficult. He can be complicated. He is a powerhouse of unguided energy and a scary temper. There is the last one: quiet, malleable, not fast in her thinking. Difficult with food. Doesn't talk much, mostly in whispers via her adoptive mother. Clothes horse. Asian therefore already 'different'. Sweet and able to play with and socialise with almost any child in the world.That's just the children. The adults all have their labels and stcikers: I am rule-driven, hypochondriac, strict, OCD in housekeeping, inclined to get obsessed by new ideas and insights. Also loving, hip-for-a-granny, hospitable to a point and a voracious romance reader. Oupa has his traits, the daughters-in-law all their preconceived attributes and so we perpetuate myths that should have been abandoned years ago or, better still, never started. But we do love one another. Dearly. Truly.

 

But they do get started and follow us for the rest of our lives. And pop up to bite us in the bum with boring, irritating regularity. In my case, the person I shared my feelings with as a sounding board was actually a very unsound-ing board. That person too has huge insecurities and empathised to such a degree that they held my hand on my walk to war. Thankfully, Ram Dass and all the others also walked, dragging me back so, although I made a fool of myself, the only damage was to my ego. And there is one more person out there who doesn't really like me. Bummer.

That Inner Child is a pest and it's here to stay. It's that simple but that complicated. Every time we say: SHE IS; every time we yell: YOU ARE! we carve into a soul. Into the psyche. Theirs and ours. Every time we put a negative on a baby, child or anything whatsoever in the world, we carve it into our psyche. It sticks. Super-glue sticking. And that person will have to spend the rest of their life trying to unstick it. 
I know a woman whose parents used to jokingly say that she was not really a wanted baby because her sister had just been born when her mom got pregnant again. That caused serious problems to the family of 3 kids and 2 adults' budget. And her mom had to stay in the maternity clinic a day longer becaused her dad didn't have the money to pay for the clinic until the next day. Those people really loved this child. But the joke stuck like dog-poo to a shoe sole and this lady, at the age of heading for 70 is still convinced her parents didn't really want her, didn't really love her. In my case I was treated like the useless but decorative (if not fat: fat was not decorative) dumb blonde. Beloved but dumb. At school I was the loner, the reader and one the unchosen.
In the day-care centre for Psychiatric patients where I held a weekly music workshop, an 84-year old man would come in with his clarinet and play for hours loudly  and not too badly, with tears running down his cheeks, and curse the father who told him he would never become a musician. 

It has taken me all my life to lose all my labels. I haven't yet. Some were stuck on me by others, some I stuck on myself (those are just as loathesome, don't forget!) The damage is permanent. Just as yours is. We just have to recognize the sticke
r, rip it off and live with whatever residual pain and glue that is lefft behind. Those Inner children are not so much Inner as on our shoulders, misguiding us time and again. We have to recognize and deal with our own. But also those of the other.
Remember the playgrounds. The stupid but well-meaning parents, uncles and friends. Lose the myths. Best of all: become the you you are and want to be. And see everyone else's Inner Child. The one just like yours.