Children were not shown mirrors. They may get bad dreams. Or was it something else? And how old did a child have to be before they could look at themselves in the mirror? I cannot remember now. We thought it was ridiculous. But my grandmother used to say, “what you cannot disapprove to 100%, could be true or false. It is better then to live as if it is true, especially if the consequences of not believing it are severe/devastating”
Now, I know that I may not show my child a mirror for a while. Older and maybe wiser? Because we are so self critical. And are so quick to see our own faults & shortcomings. Maybe, we shouldn’t have to be our own critics when we are so small? “Oh such a big nose” “my lips could be bigger” “my eyes are sooo brown. imagine if they were blue!”
The lack of a mirror means that in the 1st months/years of our lives, we are described by people who love us unconditionally. Those of us who are lucky. People who love us unconditionally see the best in us, see their future in us, see their salvation in us. Like parents do. So you hear all this pep-talk and cheering from hands that will hold you up when you fall while learning to walk
- You have eyes like your father. Beautiful!
- You have a mouth like your beautiful aunt Stella
- You have beautiful jet black hair, like your grandmother Leah
- You have long legs, you will be tall. Like your father’s family
- Your face reminds me of your mother, have you seen how pretty your mother is?
- You may get fat, like your aunt Doris. Nice curves
- You will be dark skinned like me. black beauty
- you have such a temper! like your uncle
- Look at me child, I am your mother/father/aunt/sister etc
- Smile at me child “oooh such a nice smile”
- Speak to me child “oooh, you said your first words, you are so clever!”
- Stand child, stand on your feet1 “oooh look how strong you are!”
- walk child! walk!
Confirmed and affirmed in childhood: You are like the people who love you. The people who will raise you. The people who may hurt you if you are unlucky. And the ones who will protect you from the world if you are lucky. This pep-talk stays in our heads, sub-consciously. Waiting for adulthood and the challenges of responsibility.
If we are lucky, the same people who love us will teach us what weaknesses we have, what weaknesses are important to fix, what weaknesses we can ignore and complement with our many strengths. They will give examples, “your uncle who was this and that, his life didn’t go so well”. “your aunt who did this and that, her life, look at her”. “Keep you mouth shut child. talking will not solve this.” “sit still child. you need to respect other people at the table”. If we are lucky, the same people who love us first will help us deal with our worst sides before we meet the world. Or at the very least, they will teach us to accept ourselves by letting us know that we are magnificent as we are, even though imperfect. “yes, child child, you are impatient, but you are also kind and helpful!”
Through proverbs and consistent actions I was taught that what you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn.
- I am born of free ancestors. I will always be free, even when locked up in a room.
- I am kind to others & to myself
- My mistakes are not the definition of me
- I am loved unconditionally
- I am capable of love. Nothing is wrong with my heart/soul/spirit
- I am beautiful. Like many before me, and like many after me.
- I am smart (this was not used only regarding “school smart”, it was also about dealing with daily life in a smart way)
- I don’t give up. I have a purpose and I will get there. Regardless of the obstacles